THE entrance to the Academy, once a hospital for the sick, is by a long vestibule with a waggon roof, which adds to its unusual height. At the farther end is the statue of David, by Michael Angelo.
Though it is to be regretted that this statue has been removed from the Palazzo Vecchio, where it was placed by the artist himself, and where it has stood sentinel through the winter’s cold and summer’s heat for more than three hundred years, its present place, within the walls of a museum, enables the public better to judge of its merits.
The light from above shows thé statue to the best` advantage. The stern, resolute young face under the shadow of thick curling locks ; the slender figure, beautifully modelled ; the firm, dignified, yet easy attitude, resting on one leg and leaning slightly backwards that he may gaze on the fallen giant, tell the story well. The head is large, but Michael Angelo had probably calculated that the statue would be placed at such a height as to give it its due proportion; the hands also are coarse and of great size ; but so grand a work must be measured by a different standard from that of the perfect works of Greek sculptors. The genius which has given such life to marble converts criticism into wonder and admiration. Our distinguished sculptor, the late John Gibson, whose intense reverence for the highest Greek art is proved by his own works, exclaimed, when beholding this figure, ` What a fine statue is the David !
How grand the spirit; and how free the whole from the mannerism into which Michael Angelo afterwards degenerated !’
The block of marble out of which Michael Angelo formed his statue had been blocked out at Carrara, and spoilt by one Agostino di Guccio, who had been commissioned to make a statue of a Prophet for the Guild of Merchants, and for forty years it encumbered the court of the Opera del Duomo at Florence. Jacopo Sansovino at length consented to make use of it for a statue, if allowed to piece it out with other bits of marble ; but Michael Angelo, struck with the excellence of the marble itself, offered to make the statue of David, without any addition, and finished his great work in 1504.1
To the right of the entrance of this room is a Coronation of the Virgin, attributed to Ugolino of Sienna (1260?-1339). Nothing is positively known of this artist, except that, although a native of Sienna, he painted principally in Florence. The only other painting which can, with any degree of certainty, be assigned to Ugolino, is a fragment of an altar-piece for Santa Croce, which was sold to England. The picture said to be by him in the farther room of the Academy is of doubtful authenticity.
The upper row of pictures at this side of the room are chiefly by unknown artists, but include works of Lorenzo and Neri de Bicci, who lived in the latter half of the fourteenth century. The last picture but one on the lower line is an altar-piece, composed of six small pictures by an artist of the school of Fra Angelico ; the subjects are, the Life of the Virgin and the Childhood of the Saviour. In the upper part the Virgin is seated in the Vesica Piscis, attired in white with a crown on her head ; the Donor, in a brown habit bordered with red, kneels to the left. In the representation of Christ Disputing with the Doctors, the Virgin is especially lovely.
Beside this altar-piece there is a much damaged picture by Fra Angelico (1387-1455), of the Virgin and Child enthroned with Saints ; trees are in the background.
Returning to the entrance, on the wall to the left is a large altar-piece, attributed to Pietro Cavallini, a Roman artist, the contemporary of Giotto, who painted the supposed miraculous picture in the SS. Annunziata, and died about 1364. In the centre is an Annunciation ; saints on either side. Incidents in the life of our Saviour are introduced in the frame ; in the predella is an Entombment. Farther on this wall is San Bernardino of Sienna, who founded the Reformed Order of Franciscans, and died in the Abruzzi. He was canonised by Pope Nicholas V., 1450. When preaching he always held a tablet before him, within which was the name of Jesus encircled by golden rays.
The Holy Trinity, St. Andrew, and St. Anthony is attributed to Nicolo, Gerini, of the school of Taddeo Gaddi. In the predella are represented scenes from the life of St. Anthony.
Next to this picture is an altar-piece of the Virgin and Child with a Goldfinch, St. Louis of France, the Baptist, and two other Saints by Spinello Aretino, who died in 1410. A large damaged picture of Christ on the Cross, supported by the Eternal and surrounded by Angels, is by Alessio Baldovinetti (1427-1499).
A door to the right opens on a suite of four small rooms, containing some of the greatest treasures of the Gallery. Near the entrance is the predella to an altar-piece by Luca Signorelli (1441-1523). The subjects are : the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Flagellation. It is a late work of the master, but the subjects are treated with great freedom and power.
Above the Luca Signorelli is a large picture of the Virgin and Child, by Fra Angelico (13871455) ; to the right are St. Matthew, St. Francis, and St. Lawrence, whose garment is adorned with peacock’s feathers, emblematical of immortality ; to the left, St. Dominic with St. Cosimo and St. Damian.
The most interesting pictures here are those by Fra Angelico, facing the window; and, divided by the projection of the chimney, are small panel pictures which once adorned the doors of the cupboards containing the sacred plate in the monastery of the SS. Annunziata. The subjects are all taken from the life of the Saviour, except one mystical representation of the Wheel in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel. They were executed by order of Piero de’ Medici, the son of Cosimo, Pater Patriæ, about 1433. The animation and dramatic power, as well as traditional type, of these compositions, recall the Giottesque school, whilst there is a superior refinement, beauty, and tenderness, with greater vigour than usually characterises Fra Angelico.
Among those to the right of the chimney are : the Adoration of the Child ; the Visit of the Magi ; the Presentation in the Temple ; the Flight into Egypt ; and the Last Supper ; this last, though not supposed to be by the hand of Angelico, is represented in an original and beautiful manner. The Virgin in the Visit to the Magi is one of the most lovely conceptions of the Mother of our Lord. Above these works of Fra Angelico are two pictures of Angels, attributed to Francesco Granacci (14771543)-
On the projecting wall is a predella, also by Angelico, with six scenes from the lives of St. Cosimo and St. Damian ; the subject was selected in compliment to the artist’s patrons, the Medici, painted for the SS. Annunziata.
On the highest line is a Madonna with the Child standing on her knee, by Angelico.
On the second line are two splendid heads of Vallombrosian monks seen in profile. They are attributed to Perugino, but are more probably by Raffaelle. That to the right is a portrait of Don Blasio, General of the Order ; the other is Don Balthasar, Abbot of Vallombrosa. Raffaelle may have painted these pictures when visiting Vallombrosa on his way from Urbino to Florence. The heads are sharply defined on a dark background, and modelled with the utmost care in good relief; every feature, including the ears, is drawn with individuality ; and yet this close attention to exact form is kept duly subordinate, or made to assist the higher aim of the artist in truth of expression. Light, shade, and colour have here each their relative importance. The lovely Madonna del Cardellino, now in the Tribune of the Uffizi Gallery, is said to have been painted for this Abbot of Vallombrosa.
Beyond these, at the side of the projecting wall, is Christ Rising from the Tomb, the Adoration of the Magi, and two exquisitely painted circular pictures of the Coronation of the Virgin and the Crucifixion, by Fra Angelico.
Facing the window are the remaining pictures of the series for the SS. Annunziata, already described, by Fra Angelico. The Raising of Lazarus, and Christ Bearing His Cross to Calvary, are the finest ; in this last the Mother of our Lord is pushed back by the Roman soldiers, who have the Gentile sign of the scorpion on their mantles.
Above these small pictures is a finely-coloured Deposition from the Cross. Near the door are two other miniatures by Angelico ; the Miracle of St. Cosimo and St. Damian healing the man’s Leg ; also, five martyrs beheaded.
Beside these is a powerful head of Girolamo Savonarola, represented as Piero Martire, by his disciple Fra Bartolommeo. Though the features are plain, the sweet, patient, and devout expression of the eye and mouth is singularly beautiful.
To the left of the door are two very lovely female and two male Saints, by Fra Filippo Lippi (1406-1469). Over the door, in a lunette, are the Annunciation and the Ascension of the Saviour, in small figures, attributed to Giotto.
A damaged altar-piece of a Virgin enthroned with two Angels and Saints, by Fra Angelico, hangs high on the wall ; and below it is the gem of this collection, the Last Judgment, by Fra Angelico.’ Every figure in this wonderful picture is in itself a perfectly beautiful miniature, and the whole is a most harmonious and lovely composition. A deep-blue sky gradually fading to a pure white horizon, composes the background, and a double line of tombs divides the lower part of the picture. The Saviour above is feebly imagined and coldly executed ; He is seated in glory, and turns the back of His left hand to the condemned, whilst extending towards the blest the open palm of His right, in which the wound is still perceptible. Around the Vesica Piscis in which he is seated are fiery seraphim ; lovely infant heads with wings. Beyond them is a garland of still more angelic beings, some of whom wear the `helmet of righteousness’ and the `whole armour of God.’ Near these the Virgin is seated in a robe of silver, embroidered in gold ; and, with her arms crossed on her bosom; she bends meekly towards her Son. Opposite her is St. John the Baptist, his hands clasped reverentially. On either side are patriarchs, prophets, and saints, seated in a half circle ; St. Dominic at the end to the left ; St. Francis to the right. In the centre St. Michael bears the cross on his shoulder, whilst attendant angels arouse the dead by the sound of the trumpet.
The condemned below are hurried to torments by demons ; some stop their ears, others gnaw their own hands, and this part of the picture, as well as further to the right, represents every degree of physical torture, ending with that inflicted by Lucifer himself, and is in accordance with the traditions of an ignorant and barbarous age, which, though immortalised by Dante, would be simply disgusting, if it were not also ludicrous. But no genius save that of Fra Angelico could have painted the happiness of the blessed with such truth of expression, nor have depicted every variety of emotion which we may suppose possible at such a moment. Some look up with grateful love to the Saviour; others embrace one another, or are embraced by their guardian angels ; one, overcome with joy and wonder at the glorious vision opening before him, can advance no farther, but kneels, with eyes entranced, fixed on the gates of Paradise, to which the celestial being at his side points the way. Angels crowned with roses and with glittering wings, move in a mystic dance amidst flowers, whilst others float onwards in a stream of golden light, and enter the heavenly Jerusalem.
In one of the windows are pictures by Francesco Granacci, the pupil of Domenico Ghirlandaio, and the friend and admirer of Michael Angelo and Raffaelle. They represent the life and martyrdom of St. Apollonia. The figures are too tall and slender, but nevertheless they have grace, movement, and dramatic appropriateness ; the saint herself is very lovely.
The adjoining room contains a collection of drawings and cartoons by some of the best masters. Facing the entrance are three by Raffaelle ; the cartoon for the famous picture of the Pearl, which is at Madrid, omitting the figure of Joseph ; a chalk drawing of the Madonna with the Sleeping Child : she raises a veil and shows him to the little St. John; the original picture is lost, and, according to Passavant, all so considered are copies, and differ in the background from this cartoon ; a picture in the Corsini Gallery is a copy, by Mariotto Albertinelli, of the lost picture of Raffaelle. A third drawing is a Madonna, the Child standing on His mother’s knee ; his foot resting on her hand.
Facing the window are three large cartoons of apostles, by Fra Bartolommeo (1475-1517). Above them a colossal head of the Virgin, by Correggio, and the cartoons for the Holy Family of Andrea del Sarto in the Pitti ; as well as another Holy Family by Fra Bartolommeo.
To the left of the window are two female and one male saint, also by Fra Bartolommeo, and a very lovely Madonna and Child, by Lorenzo Credi (1459-1537).
Entering the third room, opposite the spectator, is an allegory of Spring, one of Sandro Botticelli’s most celebrated works (1447-1510). It was painted for Cosimo de’ Medici’s Villa of Castello, near Florence, at the same time with the Venus, now in the Sala di Lorenzo Monaco in the Uffizi Gallery. Both the subjects and their treatment are in accordance with the taste of the period, when Greek classics were in fashion, although Greek art was imperfectly understood. The influence of Fra Filippo Lippi may be traced in Botticelli’s figures, and the influence of the Pollaioli in his love of ornament : in the midst of a grove, Spring is seen attired in a white garment, sprinkled over with bunches of flowers. She gathers up her dress to receive the flowers poured into it from the lips of a nymph, who flies from a genius of the wood. In the midst of the grove, Venus is standing clothed in white, with a red mantle lined with blue and gold. Botticelli has been more successful in producing his idea of beauty in the Goddess than in the figure of Spring. Her attitude is graceful, her head slightly bent ; Cupid hovers above, and aims his arrow at the Graces, who dance in a circle, their hands entwined, whilst Mercury with his caduceus shakes down roses. The Graces are draped in white, and their movements appear slow and languid. The colour of this picture has been much injured.
Tobias, led by the angel Gabriel, is an interesting though damaged picture, also by Sandro Botticelli ; though the forms are angular, the movements are free, and the composition has much grandeur. Beyond, there are two saints, by Pollaiolo, and a Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, by Giacomo Pachiarotti of Sienna, born in 1474. He was, according to Vasari, much esteemed in his native city, though almost all the numerous pictures he executed have long since disappeared. He joined in revolutionary disturbances within Sienna, and was consequently banished. This picture is one of three, which are all that remain to show his powers as an artist. ‘ Though light and feeble in colour,’ and somewhat insipid, there is a pleasing simplicity in the composition: a triumphal arch, and long paved way form the background, and the Holy Spirit as a dove is hovering in the clear blue sky above the principal group.
At the farther end of this room is a Crucifixion, by Luca Signorelli of Cortona. The attitude of the Magdalene is fine though somewhat theatrical. The picture is painted in distemper.
Over the door is a very interesting Pietà, also in distemper on a tile, attributed, though without any certainty, to Andrea Castagno. The artist has made a pentimento, or a change in his original intention, in the attitude of the Saviour’s arms.
Facing the window is a very fine picture by Francia of Bologna ; the Madonna and Child, St. Francis with a Crucifix, and St. Anthony bearing the lily.
A Madonna and Child enthroned with Saints, by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494), is powerful in drawing and expression, and is painted in full bright colours. The head of the Virgin is very lovely. The four splendid figures of saints areSt. Thomas Aquinas; St. Denis the Areopagite; St. Clement, who was the third Bishop of Rome, and therefore represented as Pope ; and St. Dominic. St. Thomas, one of the greatest theologians of the Roman Catholic Church, has a countenance expressive of conscious power ; acute, yet dignified : he was descended from the sister of Frederick Barbarossa, who married a Count of Aquino : their grandson was educated in the school of the Benedictine friars of Monte Cassino, but he took the Dominican habit in Naples. He was remarkable for self-command, for his calm deportment, and for his humility as well as learning ; he refused all Church preferment, and died in 1274, in a Cistercian abbey at Fossa Nova, near Rome, on his way to Lyons, to complain against Charles of Anjou.’ St, Denis is here represented on the other side of the Virgin, with a red collar round his neck, to signify his death by decapitation. St. Denis was sent to France, by Pope Clement, to preach the Gospel, and was beheaded during the persecution under Trajan. He is said to have risen after his execution, and, carrying his own head in his arms, to have walked two miles, accompanied by angels singing, until he reached a hill outside Paris, since known as Mont-Martre, where he and his fellow-martyrs were buried. The body of the saint was afterwards transferred to the Abbey which bears his name. St. Dominic, who is next to St. Thomas Aquinas, has an earnest, noble countenance ; he looks back at the spectator.
In the predella below are scenes from the lives of these holy personages. One of the loveliest to the right represents the Legend of St. Clement. Condemned to banishment during the persecution by Trajan, he was obliged, with other Christian prisoners, to break stones : they were all suffering from thirst, when St Clement knelt down and prayed, upon which a lamb appeared to him, standing on a rising ground ; the vision was unseen by the saint’s companions in misfortune, but on their digging where he directed them, a stream of water gushed forth. The contrast between the calm yet fervent expression of St. Clement, and the indifference of the other captives, who are busily at work, is admirably given. Next the Legend of St. Clement is a subject from the life of St. Thomas Aquinas : he was reading aloud to the brethren in the Refectory of the Convent, when the Superior corrected his pronunciation ; St. Thomas meekly acquiesced, although he knew himself to have been in the right ; only observing afterwards, `the pronunciation of a word is of small importance, but humility and obedience are of the greatest.’ The saint is represented seated, with a beautiful expression of mingled dignity and resignation. The centre compartment of this predella has the Entombment of the Saviour ; beyond is a scene from the Legend of St. Dominic. On Ash Wednesday, in the year 1218, Dominic, with Cardinal Stefano di Fossa Nova, was in the Chapter-house of the Convent of St. Sixtus, in Rome, when news was brought that the Cardinal’s nephew had been thrown from his horse and killed. The body was carried into the Chapter-house, where the prayers of St. Dominic restored the youth to life. The last scene in the predella represents the execution of St. Denis, who is walking off with his own head in his hand.
A Holy Family, by Lorenzo Credi (1459-1537), was executed for the Church of the SS. Annunziata ; it is painted in the clear hard colour peculiar to the artist. The child is puffy and heavy, as are also the forms of that still more original artist, Fra Filippo Lippi, to whom is attributed the other Holy Family, next that of Lorenzo Credi ; this defect does not, however, exist in the picture beyond, also by Filippo Lippi (14061469) in his early style. He was at that time under the influence of Fra Angelico. The Virgin kneels in adoration of the Infant Saviour ; the Holy Spirit descends, and two hands above are typical of the Creator, from whom the Dove has flown. St. John the Baptist, as a boy, is seen to the right, pointing to the Christ, and looking back as if calling others to follow ; below is a Camaldolese monk. The wilderness, represented by rocks, trees, and rivers, cover the whole background, leaving no space for the sky. The Madonna has the high forehead, the pale, delicate complexion, and serious yet girlish expression usual with these early Florentine representations of the mother of the Saviour ; two angels kneel in the upper part of the picture. Beyond this are four small Botticellis. A curious painting by an unknown artist represents the marriage of Boccaccio Adimari and Lisa Ricasoli, in 1420. The family of the Adimari, whose palaces occupied a considerable part of the present Via Calzaioli, towards the Piazza del Battisterio, were then at the height of their power, and one Alemanno, probably the uncle of the bridegroom, was Cardinal and Archbishop of Pisa : he died in 1422. The lady was of no less illustrious parentage ; her family settled in Florence about 1306 ; several of them had served under the Emperors Frederick Barbarossa, Henry VI.
And Otho IV. The costumes of the period are here exhibited ; the procession is moving from the Loggia degli Adimari towards the Cathedral, which is represented as a red brick building, with a belfry seen above the awning. Santa Maria del Fiore was not finished earlier than 1419, and we may therefore suppose it possible that this marriage may have taken place a few years sooner than the date assigned, for the artist appears to have given a faithful representation of the surrounding buildingsviz., the Baptistery, before which ladies are seated to witness the show, and a gate beyond, probably the postern of the Spadai, or sword-makers. A carpet is spread over the old pavement of Florence ; beneath the Loggia, servants are carrying golden dishes for the banquet, and musicians are seated near ; one plays the trombone, the rest are the trumpeters of the Republic, and have banners with the red lily of Florence attached to their trumpets.
In a dark corner near the window is another small picture, by Botticelli, of a saint kneeling before a cross to which he is to be nailed.
Returning to the Vestibule, the visitor passes between the two fine casts of Michael Angelo’s monuments to the Medici in San Lorenzo. Within the wings of the building on either side of the statue of David, are other fine casts from his works, and on the walls excellent photographs by Braun, the French photographer from Alsace, who has selected from the drawings of the great master in Paris, Weimar, &c.
To the left of David are those taken from Michael Angelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel at Rome.
The room parallel to the first Vestibule was at one time the female ward of the hospital, and is now the principal picture gallery. Beginning at the farther end, where are the earliest paintings, to the right is a curious example of very early Italian art, the life of Mary Magdalene ; it retains the conventional type of Byzantium, the ancient Constantinople, whose school of art was imported into Italy, through Venice. Near this picture is Santa Umiltà, by an unknown author, possibly Buffalmacco, who was living in 1351. Santa Umiltà was the foundress of a convent which stood on the site, since occupied by the Fortezza del Basso ; the picture includes various incidents in the life of the saint, and tells the story well.
Above these paintings is the Madonna enthroned by Giovanni Cimabue (1240-C. 1302). In many respects this picture resembles his more celebrated and better preserved painting of the same subject in the Rucellai Chapel of Santa Maria Novella. There is little variety of expression or action ; the heads lean towards the right or left shoulder, but there is a certain majesty in the tranquil form of the Virgin, here represented as the Queen of Heaven, and Cimabue has given her more animation than in pictures of the Byzantine school ; in the heads of the prophets below, the spectator is reminded that Cimabue was the master of Giotto. The unaffected earnestness with which the sacred subject is treated gives this work a higher interest than it deserves for mere technical skill ; Cavalcaselle observes, that it may rank higher than that of the Rucellai as regards composition and the study of nature ; but the old types are more obstinately maintained ; and, above all, the colour has been so altered by time and restoring that the excellent qualities of Cimabue in this respect can hardly be traced any longer. Cimabue here gave the Virgin a more natural attitude and a less rotund head, but a weightier frame, stronger outlines, and a less careful execution than before».’ The prophets below are painted with energy of expression.
To the left of the door is another large altar-piece, painted by Cimabue’s pupil, Giotto (1266-1336). Though not a favourable specimen of this great Florentine artist, it exhibits the progress made in a few years ; there is a nearer approach to nature, and less of the old conventional type. The drawing is carefully studied ; a feeling for beauty is shown in the head of the Virgin, as well as in some of the surrounding angels, and the Child is fuller and rounder in form ; but the type throughout has less -dignity, and is heavier than in earlier paintings ; the Virgin’s mantle is arranged in large massive forms, following the outline of the figure beneath. Giotto painted this picture for the Frati Umiliati of the Church of Ogni Santi.
Beneath this, on the lowest line, are small panel pictures attributed to Giotto, representing the Life of St. Francis, which once adorned the presses of the sacristy of Santa Croce : they are, however, supposed more probably to have been painted by Taddeo Gaddi ; the reasons for this opinion are thus stated by Cavalcaselle : `It is evident that the compositions are Giotto’s, and executed according to his maximsthat the attitudes, the actions, are likewise his–that the subjects are, in fact, more or less repetitions of the frescoes of the upper Church of Assisi, but that the execution is sketchy, conventional, and decorative –that the feeling of the great master is absent, whilst the heads, features, and extremities are of the false and ever-recurring forms peculiar to Taddeo in the Madonnas of 1334 and 1335, and the frescoes of the Baroncelli family.’ The series includes the whole history of St. Francis, but it is not arranged in chronological order. The subjects are as follows :He abandons his father to consecrate himself to a religious life, under the protection of the Bishop of Assisi ; the dream of Pope Innocent III., in which St. Peter points to St. Francis supporting the falling church ; St. Francis asking for the confirmation of his Order from the Pope ; he ascends to Heaven in a car of fire; he appears to his martyred disciples ; he receives the confirmation of his Order from Pope Honorius IV. ; he holds the Infant Christ in his* arms on Christmas Eve ; he appears to his disciples in church, and shows them the stigmata, or marks of the nails on his own hands and feet ; he receives the stigmataa composition identical with Giotto’s fresco of the same subject, lately discovered on the walls of the interior of Santa Croce. Lastly, the Death of St. Francis, surrounded by his disciples. Every variety of natural and appropriate movement and attitude is displayed in these little pictures.
Above these, the Virgin appearing to St. Bernard, by any early unknown artist, is clear in colour, and sweet and true in expression. The two heads behind St. Bernard, looking over him, are full of character and in excellent contrast.
The predella has four subjects : a Knight, with a Whites Horse, kneeling in prayer before the cross-handle of his sword, which is placed on a rock ; the Beheadal of a Saint, whose-soul, as a dove, flies out of his mouth ; St. Bernard preaching,. and St. Bernard with his Disciples.
A damaged picture in the corner of the adjoining wall of a dead Christ in the arms of the Virgin and Magdalene, is by Giovanni da Milano ; in this may be observed a closer attention to natural forms and expression, with further abandonment of conventional types.
Below is the Life of our Saviour, another series of panel pictures belonging to the sacristy of Santa Croce, and likewise attributed to Giotto, more probably the work of Taddeo Gaddi: these are in some respects inferior to the Life of St. Francis;. they are harder in outline and less beautiful, if we except the Adoration of the Kings and the Presentation in the Temple, which in treatment resembles the same subject by Andrea Pisano on the bronze gates of the Baptistery. The Presentation in the Temple is by Ambrogio Lorenzetti of Sienna ; above this is a feeble picture much repainted ; but the architectural drawing and the perspective of the Temple are executed with great care and finish ; restorations and varnish have, however, nearly obliterated all traces of the master’s hand.
To the left is an Annunciation, by Lorenzo Monaco (c. 1370-1425). The Virgin timidly shrinks back at the approach of the angel. Vasari describes this new and original treatment of the subject by Giotto in the Badia. The picture he alludes to, however, has long disappeared, with all Giotto’s paintings in that church ; but this Annunciation, which was removed from the Badia in 1812, so exactly corresponds with Vasari’s description, that it is probably the same, although he has mistaken the author. The attitude of the Virgin is repeated in the picture by Lippo Memmi of Sienna, in the corridor of the Uffizi Gallery. On each side of the Annunciation are St. Catharine and St. Anthony, St. Proculus and St. Francis. The angel of the Annunciation with his wings of many colours, his hands folded on his breast, and a flame on his head, is very graceful.
Above this picture is a Deposition, a large composition of many figures, attributed to Taddeo Gaddi ; but it is more probably the work of Nicolo di Pietro Gerini, one of his scholars, who occasionally painted with Taddeo, but was greatly his inferior, as the date of this picture is 1401, after the death of Taddeo Gaddi.
An interesting picture of the Adoration of the Kings is by Gentile da Fabriano (1370?-145o?), an Umbrian painter, who exercised considerable influence on the school of early Venetian Art. His works have been compared with those of Fra Angelico, but Gentile used gold only to add ornament to his pictures, and not, as Fra Angelico, to suggest an idea of heavenly glory ; he imitated embroidery and rich stuffs, thus destroying the poetry or illusion of his picture. Gentile was first employed in Bergamo and Venice, from whence he came to Florence in 1422. This picture was painted in 1423. The attempts at foreshortening and the portrait-like character of the heads, as well as the multitude of figures, men, horses, dogs,’ birds, and apes, recall Paolo Uccello and the Pesellini ; whilst the Umbrian tenderness of treatment and Venetian rich colouring and love of ornament indicate the various schools in which the artist had studied. The Holy Family is insipid, but the three kings are in natural attitudes, and have much beauty of expression.
In the predella are two lovely miniatures of the Virgin Worshipping the Child and the Flight into Egypt.
The Madonna and Child above, surrounded by angels and saints in adoration, is by Agnolo Gaddi (1330-1396), the son of `Taddeo, and the pupil of Giovanni da Milano, from whom he derived a certain realistic tendency, or the endeavour to imitate nature closely, without selection ; he sometimes even descended to caricature in his attempt to pourtray violent emotion ; as, Agnolo advanced in the knowledge and practice of his art, he. ceased to follow his master in this respect, and even developed. greater powers in composition than his father Taddeo. This, picture was painted for the Church of San Pancrazio, in Florence.
A Deposition, by Fra Angelico, is executed with the utmost care and finish. The brilliancy of the colour, without shade or chiaroscuro, becomes flat and gaudy in a picture of these. dimensions, and is not as well adapted for the representation of an earthly scene as when meant to symbolise celestial purity.. The worshipping angels in the sky are here not devoid of grimace. The body of the Saviour is covered with dark lines, to denote the strokes of the rod with which He had been scourged, and is feeble in drawing and colour ; the group of females on the left is the most interesting part of this picture,, especially the woman without a glory, dressed in black and with a white veil, who holds one end of the sheet in which the body of the Saviour is to lie. The best male heads are, a man in a black cap in the centre, evidently a portrait ; Nicodemus, standing below, and the two who are detaching the body from the cross. St. John is a very graceful figure, and is full of feeling. The hands are all delicately executed. The miniatures, of saints, set in the frame of this picture, are admirable both in expression and colour. Those above are by Lorenzo Monaco,. but not equal to the rest by Fra Angelico. It is with some hesitation we venture to differ in our estimation of this picture from so high an authority as Cavalcaselle, who writes :
Nothing can be better than the nude in its fleshy, flexible forms, which show the scars of the previous flagellation, nothing truer than the movement. The group to the right is remarkable ; the heads revealing a point of contact between Angelico and the works of Masolino di Castiglione, as regards character and drawing ; and the landscape betraying the usual defects of perspective. Yet composition, design, and colour combine to create the harmony, which was the great gift of Fra Giovanni.’
An altar-piece of a Coronation of the Virgin, painted for the Church of Santa Felice in Florence, is by Spinello Aretino (1333 ?-141o), assisted by Nicolo, Gerini, and by his son, Lorenzo di Nicolo Gerini. The compartment to the right is by Nicolô Gerini, and represents St. Peter, St. John the Evangelist, St. James, and St. Benedict. That to the left is by Spinello ; St. John the Baptist, St. Matthew, Santa Felicità, and St. Andrew ; they are grand and dignified figures, especially that of Santa Felicità. Below are half-length figures of St. Jerome and St. Peter ; St. Luke and St. Thaddeus ; St. James the Less and St. Philip; St. Simon and St. Bartholomew; St. Thomas and St. Paul ; St. Gregory and St. Lawrence. At the base of the central panel are words to this effect’ This picture was painted for the chapter of the Convent of Santa Felicità, and (paid for) by money of the said convent in the time of the Abbess Lorenza de Mossi (Mozzi), in the year of our Lord, 1401.
A Madonna and Child, St. Anna and Angels, by Masaccio (1401-1428), is probably an early picture by the master, painted for the Church of San Ambrogio. Masaccio was apt to neglect minute details, and to aim principally at life and movement his figures were sketched in rapidly. This picture is an imperfect specimen of the master. St. Jerome, attributed to Andrea Castagno, and the two accompanying pictures, Mary Magdalene and St. John the Baptist, have all the defects, and none of the merits, of Castagno, and are evidently by an inferior hand. Above these a Madonna and Child, by Fra Filippo Lippi, has little to recommend it, except the infantine grace of the child. The Coronation of the Virgin below is an important picture by the same master. Fra Filippo’s own portrait, as a friar of the Car-mine, is on the right ; he wears a red scarf, and his hands are joined in prayer as he ascends the steps of the celestial temple, in which are assembled angelic beings who witness the coronation of the Virgin, represented as a young and modest girl, not daring to raise her eyes to the Eternal, who is crowning her, but looking towards one of the slender angels who support the band or scroll that descends from the Saviour. Groups of angels crowned with roses, among whom are several aged saints, sing hymns on either side of the throne ; below them, and nearer the spectator, are groups of lovely women and small children. The type is the same throughout ; heavy-featured, round faces, with light hair, but they have the charm of a sweet simplicity united with grave earnestness of demeanour, and their attitudes are graceful. The draperies are drawn and composed with care and judgment. An aged monk in white, in the foreground to the left of St. Anthony, has a fine portrait-like head. The picture has been much damaged, and has been repaired in most parts. The predella below belonged to the Barbadori altar-piece, which was executed for the Church of Santo Spirito, and is now in the Louvre at Paris ; the colour of this predella has been . injured by time, but it has far greater claim to admiration than the altar-piece above. It was also painted by Fra Filippo when he was only twenty-six years of age ; and as the Barbadori picture is said to be one of the greatest efforts of his genius, so this predella has a refinement of feeling and grandeur of composition which we miss in the large picture. The Annunciation is treated in a novel manner. The angel kneels gracefully, the curve of his wings follows the inclination of his body, and forms an arch over his head : he presents a lighted candle to the Virgin, whose dignified and noble presence is unlike the simple peasant girl the painter usually represents her.
To the left is the Baptism of Christ, by Andrea Verocchio (1435-1488). The aerial distance, the sky, and landscape, are very beautiful. The outline of the figures is extremely fine, though hard, and the anatomy in that of the Baptist is too much defined ; this, probably, is occasioned by the unfinished state in which Verocchio left the picture. The features of the Baptist, as well as of the Saviour, are rather coarse and vulgar, but the expression noble ; the soft and delicate beauty of the kneeling angels is due to Leonardo da Vinci, the pupil of Verocchio, and the master was so disgusted at his own inferiority to his scholar that he is said from that time forth to have renounced painting.
St. Jerome Kneeling in Prayer is attributed to Fra Filippo, but is more probably by his son Filippino Lippi, in his decline. A Virgin and Child enthroned, with Saints, is a very fine picture, by Sandro Botticelli, painted at the period when his works display the influence of the Pollajoli. The hands of the Virgin, especially the left, are executed with truth and finish ; the Child is most lovely and graceful, though both Mother and Child have the angularity characteristic of Botticelli. St. Cosimo and St. Damian kneel in the foreground ; the first turns to the spectator, the last looks up at the Virgin ; both are noble heads. St. Francis, who is behind St. Catharine, is extremely fine ; the other saints are more remarkable for the beauty of their draperies than their persons. The colour is full and powerful ; the predella below is by the younger Pesellino, and represents the Birth of the Saviour, the Martyrdom of St. Cosimo arid St. Damian, and St. Anthony of Padua discovering the heart of a dead usurer in his money chest ; this last is the finest of the three compartments. According to Cavalcaselle’ a gentle and natural animation pervades all the figures. The females in the foreground are in good pro-portions, and the whole is drawn and executed with neatness, precision, and freshness, and without vulgarity.’
A large picture above is the Coronation of the Virgin, one of Botticelli’s finest works. Angels, hand in hand, dance in a circle round the glory which surrounds her ; they are light and graceful, with floating hair, and draperies which quiver in many folds in the breezy air ; other angels scatter roses. Flame-coloured and blue cherubim form an arch under which are seated the Eternal and the Virgin. Of the four saints below,, St. John the Evangelist, holding his Gospel in one hand and raising the other in ecstasy, is in an awkward attitude ; St. Augustine, who writes in a book, is very grand ; the two others are St. Jerome and St. Eloy or St. Lo. The extremities are admirably drawn. The predella to this picture on the lowest line is also by Sandro Botticelli. Beginning at the left hand, St. John the Evangelist is seated on the island of Patmos ; St. Augustine in his study ; the Annunciation ; St. Jerome at his devotions in the Wilderness ; and last, and finest, St. Lo as a blacksmith, shoeing the leg he has cut off from a white horse beside him, whilst Satan, disguised as a lovely female, stands by, watching the operation.
The Visit of the Shepherds and the adoration of the Magi, by Domenico Ghirlandaio, is a highly finished picture. The Virgin is especially beautiful ; she kneels with a sweet smile her hands joined as in prayer, and her whole soul absorbed in the contemplation of her Child, who lies on the hem of His Mother’s garment, with His finger to His lips; the traditional gold-finch, the scarlet of whose head is the symbol of sacrifice, stands perched on a stone near. A group of peasants, the shepherds of sacred story, one of whom carries a lamb, converse together ; Joseph shades his eyes from the light above the shed ; an angel is descending with the good tidings to another group of shepherds, who are seen on a distant hill tending their flocks. A gay procession of riders, every horseman attended by his fante, or footman, winds along the road below, and pass through a triumphal arch dedicated to Pompey the Great ; these are the Magi, or Kings from the East. Near the Holy Family, the ox and ass drink from a sarcophagus, on which is an inscription to another Pompey, an augur. The landscape is very beautiful ; the background is composed of a river, town, and church with a spire ; and the pale, quiet colour throughout resembles that in Ghirlandaio’s equally fine picture of the same subject in the Church of the Innocenti.
To the left is an Adoration of the Shepherds, by Lorenzo Credi (14591537) ; though the glazes have been injured, which occasions some crudeness, the warm under-tint of brown pre-vents any real harshness in the clear, pure colour, and gives a. delicious harmony to the whole ; the devotional and animated expression of the angels and shepherds, the graceful attitudes, delicately drawn hands and refined type of the heads, as well as of the figures, betray the influence of Leonardo da Vinci. The shepherd carrying the lamb on his arm is especially beautiful ; he stands in a natural and easy attitude of repose, and the tender expression of his countenance corresponds with the action symbolical of Him ‘ who gathers the lambs with His arm, and carries them in His bosom.’
Above this is a large picture of a Madonna enthroned, surrounded by Saints, by Sandro Botticelli ; the upper part of this picture, according to Cavalcaselle, is a modern addition by Veracini.
Christ in Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is here attributed to Pietro Perugino (14461523), though the original design exhibited in the drawings of the Uffizi Gallery would lead to the supposition that the picture is by the hand of Raffaelle. It is one of the loveliest compositions of the Umbrian school, and was painted for the Gesuati of this city, who had their monastery beyond the Porta Pinti, where they were celebrated for the manufacture of coloured glass. Perugino worked for these friars during his residence in Florence from 1492 to 1499 ; Raffaelle succeeded him in 1504.
Above is a Madonna and Child with the archangels Gabriel and Michael and the Holy Trinity, by Luca Signorelli, in his grand style. The Virgin’s head and throat are beautifully modelled ; the archangel Michael, who weighs human souls in a balance, is noble in composition and drawing ; the figure of Gabriel is, however, inferior to the rest of the composition. St. Augustine seated beneath and St. Anastasius have splendid heads, and their hands are in natural and easy gestures. The picture is painted in simple full colour.
An Assumption of the Virgin is by Perugino : a choir of angels play on different musical instruments. Below are the Cardinal Bernardo degli Uberti, San Giovanni Gualberto, St.
Benedict, and the archangel Michael. The artist has inscribed his name below, with the date, A.D. MCCCCC. The gorgeous and spotty colouring is disagreeable at first sight, but the picture grows on the spectator as the wonderful beauty and life in the countenances reveal themselves, especially those of St. Benedict and San Giovanni Gualberto ; the hands are executed with the utmost finish, and the landscape is very lovely, fading away in the light horizon. The Virgin, gazing upwards, is one of Perugino’s finest conceptions of the subject. The picture was painted for the monks of Vallombrosa, when Perugino executed the frescoes in the Sala del Cambio, at Perugia ; and a few years later than the picture of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. Jerome on either side of the cross, is likewise by Perugino. The sun has set, and to enhance the solemnity of the hour a low tone of colour pervades the picture. The figures are executed somewhat carelessly. The Madonna is the same which Perugino painted in his masterpiece, the Crucifixion of Santa Maddalena de’ Pazzi, only inferior in expression.
Beneath is an entombment, by Perugino ; St. John, Mary Magdalene, and the Saviour, are the most beautiful parts of the picture, which was executed for the Gesuati, beyond the Porta Pinti, and transferred to the convent of the Calza during the siege of Florence.
A Descent from the Cross, by Perugino and Filippino Lippi, was painted for the SS. Annunziata. Filippino had only finished the upper half of the picture when he died in 1504, and Perugino was requested to finish it. The earnest upward gaze of the kneeling Magdalene is very beautiful, as well as Filippino’s work, the head of Christ, and the Nicodemus above, disengaging the body from the cross.
Below are four saints, life-size : St. Michael; San Giovanni Gualberto, the founder of the Vallombrosian Monastery ; St. John the Baptist, and Cardinal Bernardo degli Uberti ; this picture formed part of an altar-piece on panel painted by Andrea del Sarto for the Church of the Hermitage, at Vallombrosa, in 1528. The head and attitude of St. John, with his arm raised in the act of preaching, is very grand ; the lines of composition are severe, and there is great breadth of chiaroscuro, and a deep rich colour, low in tone, and in harmony with the solemn and majestic figures of the picture.
The predella belonging to this altar-piece is to the left, on the lowest line. The subjects are St. Michael weighing souls, whilst an expectant demon is endeavouring to wrest his sword from his side : San Giovanni Gualberto, passing unscathed through the fire, a miraculous event which is said to have taken place in front of the Badia at Settimo, two miles from Florence the Decapitation of John the Baptistboth very fine compositions ; and Cardinal Bernardo degli Uberti seized when at the altar.
Above this predella are two charming little boy angels full of vivacity, also by Andrea del Sarto, which once formed part of the picture of the four saints above mentioned to which this predella belonged. Four circular panels, with heads painted in tempera, by Fra Bartolommeo, are finely sketched.
Above is a grand fresco by Andrea del Sarto, Christ seated on His tomb, life size ; a noble figure, fine in drawing and in position ; the relaxation of all the limbs, and the prostration of extreme debility is given ; the colour is soft and transparent.
A large picture to the left, the Virgin enthroned, is attributed to Fra Bartolommeo (1475-1517). The Infant Christ exchanges his heart with that of St. Catharine ; He stands beside His mother, and is singularly graceful and beautiful in form and action. This is, however, the repetition of a picture sent to France, and is probably the work of Bartolommeo’s pupil, Fra Paolino.
The Virgin and Child appearing to St. Bernard below is also by Fra Bartolommeo. St. Bernard, on his knees, is finely composed and executed ; the head is full of deep feeling, the drapery falling in majestic folds, and ‘drawn with care and precision. The rest of the picture is soft and feeble, from the _absence of the last glazes or transparent colours, but its merits in composition, grace, and elegance are worthy of high estimation.
The Resurrection is by Raffaellino del Garbo, the pupil of Filippino Lippi, who, as described by Cavalcaselle, has ` affectation in forms, mannerism in drawing, and flatness,’ but who has also the merit, especially in some of his Madonnas and Saints, of grace, correctness, and clear, brilliant colour. This picture is not a good specimen of the master, either in composition or colour. Behind it is a small fresco in terra verde, by Andrea del Sarto, painted when this room was a hospital for women.
An altar-piece, painted by Mariotto Albertinelli (1474-1515), for the Monastery of St. Julian, represents the Madonna en-throned with St. Dominic, St. Nicholas, St. Julian, and St. Jerome.
Between these two pictures is an Entombment, designed by Fra Bartolommeo, and coloured by Fra Paolino ; the body of the Saviour is supported on the knees of his mother ; Mary Magdalene, St. John, St. Dominic, and another friar are beside her.
To the left is a feeble representation of the Trinity, by Mariotto Albertinelli. The outline and effect of the figures have been injured by fresh gilding on the background. Over the door is an Annunciation by the same master, painted for the company of St. Zenobius in 1510.
The Virgin in Glory, with Saints, is by Francesco Granacci – ‘(14771543) and was painted at the same period with his picture of the Virgin and St. Thomas in the Uffizi Gallery. The Madonna is very dignified, and is surrounded by four beautiful angels. The saints below are St. Catharine, St. Bernard, San Giovanni Gualberto, and St. George ; they are earnest and noble in expression, but the picture has been damaged, and is gaudy in colour.
Ten heads in fresco, by Fra Bartolommeo and his scholars, :are at the end of the room on either side of the window, the finest is that of Piero Martire and another monk. The remaining pictures in this room are not of great value. There are two good paintings by Ludovico Cardi, or Cigoli, of St. Francis in prayer, and pictures by Santo di Titi, Matteo Rosselli, Lorenzo Lippi, Francesco Curradi, Agnolo Bronzino, Jacopo Ligozzi, Alessandro Allori, and Giovanni Sogliani, all of the sixteenth .and seventeenth centuries, but none of these paintings are good -examples of the artists, and most are placed in so dark a .situation that their merits are not easily discovered.
A custode from the Academy or from the Museum of San Marco will accompany the visitor who may desire to see the celebrated works of Andrea del Sarto, at the Scalzo in the Via Cavour. On an upper floor of this house, the Scalzi or Bare-footed Friars held their meetings. They were so-called, because when they carried the crucifix in public processions they always walked barefoot. – The house has a cortile or court, with cloisters, resting on columns ; and when Andrea del Sarto was beginning life as an artist, and inhabiting the same house as his friend Franciabigio, near the Mercato del Grano, they were both employed by this confraternity to adorn the walls with frescoes in chiaroscuro. The subject chosen was the Life of St. John the Baptist, to which saint the Scalzi were dedicated The only joint-work of the artists was the Baptism of Christ, which, though full of feeling, and a wonderful production for two young men, is the least well-executed of the series. The rest of the frescoes were painted with a certain rivalry, which gave a stimulus to the work. Andrea was often called away by other engagements, and therefore these paintings are spread over a space of eleven years.
In 1517 he executed the borders round the fresco of the Baptism of Christ, but all the rest of the friezes were the work of Franciabigio, who also painted St. John taking leave of his father Zacharias when departing for the Desert, and the Meeting of the Saviour and St. John. In r517 Andrea finished the compartment of St. John Baptising in the Desert. In 1520 he painted the figures of Faith and Charity ; and soon after-wards Herodias Dancing before Herod, the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, and Salome presenting his head to her mother Herodias ; the Angel appearing to Zacharias ; and the figure of Hope. He finished the fresco of Zacharias in 1523, when he was painting the panel picture of the History of Joseph for the Borgherini, now in the Pitti. In 1524 Andrea resumed his work at the Scalzo, and painted the Visit of Mary to Elizabeth; and in 1526 he executed his latest fresco, the Birth of St. John.
We have here an opportunity of tracing Andrea del Sarto’s progress in his art during the eleven years that he painted in this cloister. In the Preaching of St. John we see the influence of Ghirlandaio ; in the Baptism of St. John, and St. John before Herod, that of Albert Dürer. The Angel appearing to Zacharias was painted just before the Madonna del Sacco, in the SS. Annunziata ; and the two latest and largest frescoes preceded Andrea’s Last Supper, in the Monastery of the Salvi.
These frescoes were all much injured by damp and exposure to weather, before the cloister was protected by glass. In 1735 the confraternity of the Scalzi was suppressed by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, who sold all the building except the cloister, which, from that time, was attached to the Academy of Fine Arts.