PMANY DOMED Padua, as I like to remember Shelley called it, stands like a curious great casket away from the Brenta to the south of it, still largely surrounded by it; old walls, a place still only half awakened by the hurry of the modern world. All sorts of things are to be found in Padua frescoes, for instance, such as exist nowhere else in all the Veneto, the shrine of a great saint such as in this country only Venice herself can match, more than one cool and beautiful church beside, a ruined amphitheatre now a garden two noble Piazze, a great and fine Palazzo Pubblico, and s university among the oldest in Europe : what more car anyone ask of any city in the world ?
But Padua is something better than a mere subject foi sightseeing : she is a treasure house which contains something more than pictures, frescoes, churches, and curiosities ; she has still something of the strangely bright and sunlit delight of Pisa. Here as there the great church is set apart in the quietest corner of the town, though we miss the meadow that the Tuscan city has spread about her Duomo. We miss, of course, any such glory as the matchless group of building: there, and we miss the hills. Yet not altogether, after all For if Pisa boasts the Monti Pisani which form so noble background to that white city in the marsh, Padua boasts the Monti Euganei, not less lovely though somewhat farther away and in this has little, if anything, to envy Pisa. But it is the air, the spirit of quietness and of wellbeing common to both, the suggestion of something withdrawn, that brings the two cities together in my mind. Each is on a main line of railway, each is at the door of one of the two greater pleasure cities in Italy, each is but an anteroom to the best of all, and is too often passed by with scarce a disdainful glance ; yet rightly understood there can be but few things in the world more lovely than Pisa, there can be few places in the world more delightful than Padua. It is true they have both seen better days, but then what Italian city has not ? But they remain cities of quiet joy; and since Padua will be the first to be spoilt, it is well that we should all see and enjoy her while we may. This also the two cities possess in common, that both have had a various and eventful history ; and though the fate of Padua was not so tragic as that of Pisa it was like it in this, that it entailed the loss of her independence and brought her into the power of the great city at whose doors she stood. Florence consumed Pisa, Venice consumed Padua; and if Padua was, as is not to be denied, the happier in her fate, she owed it to the greatness of the republic into whose hands she fell.
But Padua had an already ancient story when Venice at last drew her within her dominion. Indeed, her history was hoary before Venice was. As the legends will have it, Padua was founded by Antenor after the Fall of Troy in B.C. I199 or r 184. The city may well have an Euganean origin, but we certainly know that in B.C. 302 she was fighting against Cleomenes of Sparta, that the rostri of his galleys adorned her Temple of Juno, and that she fought among the allies of Rome at the battle of Cannae. In B.C. 45 she was declared a Roman colony. With the Empire she came to great splendour, and is said to have been the richest of all the Italian cities and the most populous after Rome itself. In the time of Augustus she numbered five hundred citizens of the Equestrian order and boasted splendid theatres and magnificent baths. She fell, as all this part of the Empire fell, under the invasions of Alaric and Attila, which almost destroyed her, and she had a part, and that no small one, in the foundation of Venice, that raft which was constructed in the terror of shipwreck to save what could be saved. Her fate, however, was happier than that of Aquileia more fortunate than that of Altinum. She rose again from her ashes, and in the time of Charlemagne was already of some importance. During the whole of the disastrous ninth century she continued to endure, though filled again and again with ruins. Her true renaissance begins with the twelfth century, when she got her own magistrates, and in 1164 before any other Italian city she threw off the iron yoke of Barbarossa and proclaimed herself a republic. In 1175 she got her first Podestà, Alberto Osa da Milano. This period of liberty was quite spoiled by the continual wars Padua was compelled to wage on its behalf with neighbouring cities. Her most bitter, terrible, and relentless enemy was, as we might expect, that “grey, wizened, dwarfish devil Ecelin,” of whom we have heard in Bassano. By 1236 he was master of Treviso, Vicenza, and Padua. After twenty years of carnage the oppressed rose against this appalling criminal, and in June, 1259, he was slain. Then Padua for a time had peace; learning, the arts, manufacture flourished, and the finest things still left in Padua were built and painted. The peace ended with the advent into Italy of Henry of Luxembourg in 1311. He wished to impose an imperial vicar upon the Paduans, who would have none of him. Therefore Henry stirred up Cane della Scala of Verona to attack them and the city of Vicenza, with whom they were allied. The war thus begun lasted long with varying fortune, nor did the death of the Emperor end it, for the cupidity of the Scala being aroused and in a sense legitimized, it was not to be put off or easily assuaged. Moreover, unhappy Padua in this crisis found herself involved in the Guelf and Ghibelline quarrel. There were many who for their own ends sided with the Emperor and the Scaligers. Among these was the Ghibelline family of the Carraresi, who, at once seeing or hoping that something might be gained, waged suddenly private war against the Alticlini and the Ronchi, their enemies, within the city. In the midst of this affair Cane descended and led away Marsilio and Jacopo da Carrara as prisoners to Verona. It seems that there Jacopo came to some understanding with Cane, for in 1318 he was sent back to the city as Lord of Padua.
It was just then that Venice came upon the scene. With Padua in the hands of Jacopo da Carrara, a mere nominee of the Scala, she saw her trade route of the Brenta in an enemy’s hands. Moreover, as we have seen, the Scala were now supreme not merely in Verona and Padua, but in Vicenza, Feltre, Belluno, and Treviso. Their lordships hemmed in the lagoons and cut Venice off from her great markets. Nor did Scala hold his hand; he saw how the wealth of Venice might be made to pay an ever increasing tribute, and at once imposed duties on the transport of Venetian food in the districts of Treviso and Padua, and actually built a fort and a tollhouse on the Po. The reply of Venice was to cut off his supply of salt; but it was not enough. War followed, and as a result of that war Scala was beaten, and as soon as he was beaten his protégé, the House of Carrara, proved false to him. Marsilio da Carrara, lately his prisoner in Verona, whose brother Jacopo he had made Lord of Padua, when sent as his ambassador to the Venetians betrayed him, came to secret terms with the Doge, undertook to place Padua in the hands of Venice on condition that he was established as Lord. As we have seen, Scala was beaten and Padua taken. By the treaty of 1339 Treviso and Bassano fell to Venice, the Carraresi were established in Padua, and the Scaligers ceased to be a danger to Venice.
The Brenta and the Padovano were now held by a tributary of Venice, the House of Carrara, which depended for its existence on the protection of Venice; for if the Scala star was setting, the Visconti star, a far greater luminary, was rising, and without Venice Padua must inevitably have become a part of the new constellation of Milan. There followed a perfect example of what, though it was continually happening and we have hundreds of examples of it, remains an insoluble mystery in the political history of the Communes of Italy.
From the thirteenth to the seventeenth century the history of diplomacy in Italy is merely a long story of the most bare-faced and childish lying, treason, and disloyalty that is to be found in the history of man. Diplomacy as then understood seems to have consisted merely in telling falsehoods that no one, it might seem, could possibly have believed if he had not himself been so incorrigible a liar as to have deprived him-self of any sense of difference between falsehood and truth. Here were these Carraresi, Jacopo and Marsilio. They had, to begin with, made the most barefaced attempt to establish a tyranny in Padua. They had failed. Carried off as prisoners to Verona, one of them, Jacopo, had so far imposed upon Cane della Scala as to obtain from him the Lordship of Padua under his suzerainty. At the first opportunity he proved false to his trust ; yet the Scala chose his brother Marsilio as their ambassador to Venice, and as might have been expected, with the inevitable result that he proved a traitor. With this history in their hands the Venetians must have been convinced, one might suppose, that there was nothing but falsehood and treason to be got from the House of Carrara. Yet they established them in Padua. It is incredible and inexplicable; but similar things occur everywhere on every page of the history of the time.
In the year 1339, then, we have Marsilio da Carrara established in Padua as tributary Lord by Venice. The result was certain, nor have we long to wait for it. Wherever and whenever possible the Carraresi sided against the Republic. For instance, the disasters of the Genoese sea war at Sapienza and the conspiracy of Marino Faliero weakened the Republic, so that the Hungarians revived their claims to Dalmatia ; the Carrara refused to ally themselves with Venice, they preferred to remain neutral in a campaign which did not directly concern them ; but as a fact they did all they could to help the Hungarians in their siege of Treviso. Venice seems to have been surprised at this. It is incredible. The peace of Zara contained a provision that the Carrara were not to be interfered with by Venice. This, if nothing else could, seems finally to have aroused the disgust, anger, and suspicion of the Republic. It was time. Before long Carrara was known to be building forts along the Brenta as far as Oriago. The times were unfavourable, but Venice could not stomach this. She threatened war and made it, when the true relations of things at once became clear. Carrara was supported by the King of Hungary. Here, however, Venice had a stroke of luck. The king’s nephew fell into her hands, and as the price of his freedomperhaps of his life the king withdrew and left Carrara to make what peace he could. This he accomplished in 1373; and though it was entirely favourable to Venice, it was too nice to Carrara, for it left him more than his life, it left him his Lordship ; yet he was condemned to pay a large indemnity and to destroy his forts on the Brenta and to cede Feltre to Venice as security for good conduct. In all this Venice acted too leniently. She should have extirpated the Carraresi breed and taken Padua into her own hands. The final struggle with Genoa proved this. No sooner was the war of Chioggia seen to be going against Venice than Carrara joined the Genoese. He blockaded the lagoons from the mainland, tried to starve Venice out, urged Pietro Doria to the great attack he refused which would have carried the city, fed the Genoese and supported them in Chioggia in the final stage of the war, and all through the campaign besieged Treviso.
At last the eyes of Venice were open. When Genoa was broken and she was alone upon the sea she remembered Carrara and bethought her how she might crush him. Carrara also saw that he must win now or never. In order to save Treviso and Feltre from him Venice had given them to the Duke of Austria. Carrara bought them from him. Bassano came into his hands. What Scala had failed to do he now thought to attempt. But he had reckoned without Visconti. Carrara tried first to deal with him, but he had met a greater rascal than himself. They divided the Scala dominion between them. To Visconti went Verona, to Carrara Vicenza. Visconti took them both by force. Immediately both Carrara and Visconti turned to Venice for aid to extirpate each the other. Carrara pointed to the obvious danger of so powerful a neighbour, Visconti pointed to the equally obvious record of Carrara. He offered Treviso, Feltre, and Ceneda to the Republic. Venice heard him and agreed. Those cities passed into her hands, Visconti took and held Verona, Vicenza, and Padua.
But Visconti was altogether too dangerous and strong for Venice to contemplate his dominion in the Veneto as permanent. She at once seized the opportunity of his attack on Bologna to join Florence against him, and in this crisis restored the Carraresi to Padua. What would have been the issue of such a vast conflict one cannot tell, for just as it was really to be decided in 1402 Visconti died, and his great dominion fell swiftly to pieces.
In this breathing space it began to dawn on Venice that now Visconti was removed she had no longer any possible need for Carrara. And this was impressed upon her by his insolent claim to Vicenza, which Visconti’s widow held stoutly, appealing to Venice for aid. The Republic demanded Bassano, Vicenza, and Verona from her. She gave them : what else could she do ?
Venice then ordered the Carraresi to hold their attack. There were two of them as usual in the affair, most truly their fathers’ sons, Francesco and Jacopo. They refused, knowing their hour was struck. Francesco the Republic besieged in Padua, Jacopo in Verona. After fierce fighting both cities fell. The two Carraresi were brought to Venice, where the mob, with a true instinct, howled for their blood. The Government, it is said, inclined to spare them. A vast plot, however, was early and conveniently discovered, in which both were said to be involved, and the Council of Ten had them both strangled in prison in January, 1405.
Thus was the dominion of Venice established, not in Padua alone, nor only in Treviso and Bassano, but through the whole of that great province which bore her name from the Adige to the Alps, the Tagliamento and the sea. And this dominion she was to hold, to govern wisely and well till her fall. She had become not merely mistress of the seas, but one of the greatest land powers in the peninsula, and by far the most successful State that even till our day has ever existed there since the fall of the Empire.
Such is the history of Padua in its relation to the Veneto. Under Venetian rule it quickly grew and flourished. Its University, already founded, became famous throughout Europe, and the fame of the city in Christendom had long since been established by the shrine of S. Anthony. It is always as the University town or as the city of S. Anthony we come upon Padua in the memoirs of our fathers. There is Evelyn, for instance : “On the . . . June,” he writes, ” we went to Padua to the Faire of their S. Anthony, in company of divers passengers. The first terra firma we landed at [he came from Venice] was Fusina, being only an inn, where we changed our barge and were drawne up by horses thro’ the river Brenta, a straight chanell as even as a line for 20 miles, the country on both sides deliciously adorned with country villas and gentlemen’s retirements, gardens planted with oranges, figs, and other fruit belonging to ye Venetians.”
That is still a fine way to come to Padua from Venice, only now the villas are deserted and ruinous and the way as melancholy though as beautiful as any in the world.
Evelyn also speaks of the University: “Ye scholes of this flourishing and ancient university,” where especially ” ye studie of physic and anatomie” was undertaken. “They are fairly built in quadrangle with cloysters beneath and above with columns. Over the greate gate are the armes of ye Venetian State and under ye lion of S. Marc. . . About ye court walls are carv’d in stone and painted the blazons of the Consuls of all the nations that from time to time have had that charge and honour in the universitie, which at my being there was my worthy friend Dr. Rogers, who here took his degree.”
That was in 1645. Thirty years before, another Englishman, more famous in his day than Mr. Evelyn, had been educated at Padua. This was Mr. Nicholas Ferrar, who afterwards founded a ” Protestant Nunnery” at Little Gidding and who is so great a figure in Shorthouse’s ” John Inglesant.” There he studied medicine, geometry, philosophy, and rhetoric. There was an anatomical theatre and a ” garden of simples rarely furnished with plants,” to which was attached a school of pharmacy, which had been in existence in 1615 for more than sixty years. There were also two hospitals for the study of clinical medicine, furnished with the ” greatest helps and most skilful physicians,” as well as subjects to exercise upon. All of which Evelyn saw and described.
Such was Padua of old, the city of S. Anthony and of a great University, where, by the way, Tasso was a student. But though for what is left of Catholic Europe,and that is little enough, alas ! Padua remains the city of S. Anthony, who comes to her to-day to be taught “medicine, geometry, philosophy, and rhetoric “?
It is to no University, but to a tiny chapel in a garden of mulberries that we make our way from the station or from the Inn. It stands in the old Roman Arena, whose shape can still be traced in the oval garden ; and Giotto has painted there, it is said while Dante was in Padua,’ the story of Madonna and the story of Our Lord, It seems that in 1301 a certain Enrico Scrovegno, a rich citizen of Padua, had been raised to the rank of a noble by the Republic of Venice. He devoted a part of the wealth he had inherited from his father, Rinaldo Scrovegno, whom Dante places in the Inferno on account of his usury and avarice, to the building of a chapel, completed in 1303 and dedicated to S. Maria Annunziata,did he stop here, for he employed the first painter in Italy to cover the chapel with frescoes, if Benvenuto da Imola is to be believed, in the year 1306. Indeed, it has been suggested, and Crowe and Cavalcaselle seem inclined to accept the statement, that Giotto not only decorated but built the chapel. More modern opinion, however, is more doubtful, and is even confused as to the position of Giotto’s undoubted frescoes here in the story of his art. Thus it is not absolutely certain whether Giotto painted at Assisi in the Lower Church before or after working at Padua. Mr. Berenson, indeed, with whom more and more I find myself in agreement, denies to Giotto all the work usually given him in the Lower Church at Assisi, and assigns to him in part three frescoes in the Chapel of S. Mary Magdalen there, adding that they were painted ” before 1323,” but presumably after the work here in Padua. Messrs. Douglas and Strong, on the other hand, accept the frescoes usually given to Giotto in the Lower Church at Assisi and think that they are later than these in the Arena Chapel. Crowe and Cavalcaselle hold that Giotto’s work in Padua is later than his work in the Lower Church at Assisi. For my own part I think that Giotto first worked in Rome, then in the Florence Bargello, then in the Upper Church at Assisi, then in Padua, and then in the S. Mary Magdalen Chapel in the Lower Church at Assisi. I should be inclined to accept Benvenuto da Imola’s statement, and to find Giotto in Padua about 1306, when Dante was lodging in the Contrada di S. Lorenzo.
But whatever the date of these frescoes, this at least is certain, that the frescoes of the Arena Chapel, with the exception, perhaps, of those in the Chapel of S.. Mary Magdalen in the Lower Church at Assisi, are the best preserved of all the work Giotto has left us.
Before considering them in any detail, let us glance at the chapel they glorify. Built in the form of a single-vaulted aisle, with the choir merely separated from the nave by an arch, the chapel is lighted by six windows in the south wall.
There is thus a very large space in a building really small, for the fresco painter, and Giotto took every advantage of this. He arranged his subjects according to the tradition of his time, already some centuries old, but with an artistic sense of their value in relation to each other that was all his own. Over the entrance he placed the Last Judgment. Opposite this, on the choir arch, he painted Our Lord in Glory guarded by angels, and beneath, the Annunciation. On the side walls between this arch and the entrance wall he painted in a triple course thirty-eight scenes of the life of the Blessed Virgin and of Our Lord. ” These subjects,” say Crowe and Cavalcaselle, “were enclosed in a painted ornament of a beautiful kind, interrupted at intervals by little fnames of varied forms containing subjects from the Old and New Testaments. All rested on a painted marble cornice, supported on brackets and pilasters, in the intervals of which were fourteen figures in dead colour representing the Virtues and the Vices. As in the Chapel of the Podestà, so at the Arena, the wagon roof was spanned by two feigned arches. The field of the vault was blue and starred, adorned in the centre with medallions of the Saviour and the Virgin and on the sides with eight medallions of prophets. By this division of subject and of ornamentation, an admirable harmony was created. The feigned cornice, with its feigned basreliefs, illustrates completely the ability with which Giotto combined architecture with sculpture and painting; whilst in the style of the ornaments themselves the most exquisite taste and a due subordination of parts were combined.”
On entering the Arena Chapel the traveller sees first, as Giotto intended, the Saviour of the world in glory among His angels. He finds this great and majestic splendour, and, bowing his head, dropping his eyes, he sees beneath the Annunciation, the message from Heaven to earth, which brought God down into the world in our likeness. There follow, as I have said, in three courses on either side, the preparation for that message in the life of the Virgin, the result of it in the life of Christ. But what has not been so generally noticed is the subtle and beautiful manner in which Giotto has mystically caused the one to correspond as it were with the other. Is it here we may see Dante’s hand ? For instance, the first fresco on one side of the Annunciation is the Salutation, in which Elizabeth greets Our Lady; opposite to it the first fresco on the other side is the Salutation of Judas in which he betrayed Our Lord. Such is the wonderful method that underlies the decoration of the chapel, an arrangement emphasized by the virtues and vices which face one another on the marble skirting. Now the practice of the virtues leads us towards Paradise. Therefore the first of the virtues, which is Hope, is turned towards that part of the great fresco of the Last Judgment in which we may see Paradise. The pursuit of vice leads to Damnation, therefore the last of the vices, Despair, is drawn by a devil towards the Inferno.
It might seem superfluous to name the thirty-eight frescoes with which Giotto has illuminated this chapel, for there can be no one so ignorant of the Christian Legend as not to recognize them at a glance. It will be enough to say that they begin on the topmost course at the right hand of the Christ in glory, and continue on this course quite round the chapel, and so with the second and third courses. Nowhere in Christendom is there a series of frescoes comparable with this for beauty and freshness of colour, for vitality of form and gesture, combined with a superb decorative loveliness. We may prefer the Raising of Lazarus in S. Mary Magdalen’s Chapel in the Lower Church at Assisi to that we see here ; we may prefer the Noli me Tangere there to this in Padua; we may even say with Crowe and Cavalcaselle that ” though purely and dramatically conceived and executed the Crucifixion at Padua is less successfully presented than that of the Lower Church of Assisi,” but where in Assisi even, where in Florence, whene anywhere in Italy are we to look for a work so complete, so majestic, and so lovely as this frescoed chapel in Padua ? The only thing left to us that may be compared to it is the Upper Church at Assisi, which, so far as it is not a ruin, we owe to the same painter, Giotto,but Giotto in his earlier years.
Yet the splendour of Giotto’s work here must not blind us to the other treasures of the church. The frescoes in the choir of the Death, Assumption, and Coronation of the Virgin are indeed of no account, but here is a fine monument to the founder of the church, and in the little sacristy close by is a splendid half-figure of the Madonna and Child by Giovanni Pisano, one of his best works. To the same sculptor may be assigned the statue of Scrovegno. Here, too, is a fine Crucifix, perhaps from Giotto’s hand, full of the majesty and dignity we seem to miss in the fresco in the chapel.
It is always with regret one leaves the Chapel of the Arena, for nothing to compare with it is to be found in Padua, or, indeed, in all Northern Italy. Yet for our consolation we may discover, and that close by, a very interesting if not unique convent of Augustinians, now spoiled and ruined, but, in spite of the Government, containing still many precious and beautiful things. It is true that today the convent is given up to the use of the Italian army , that is not as surprising as it is shameful. Italy has accustomed us to this sort of outrage, and some have grown so used to it as to consider it almost virtuous. So that if you or I exclaim at it and make accusation we are to be blamed as rude and vulgar persons unused to the ways of the world ! Yet we will make our accusation all the same, and one day be sure it will have to be answered.
The Augustinians, or Austin Friars, to whom the church and convent belonged, although now called Mendicants, are really an Order of hermits, as their true Italian name, degli Eremitani, proves. They derive their origin from S. Augustine, in Tagaste, in the year 388, when that great Doctor brought some persons into his own house and gave them a Rule, which he kept with them. In 1256, about the time that we first hear of them in Padua, Pope Alexander IV collected together under this Rule all the hermits in Europe, and in 1567 Pius V congregated them with the Mendicant Friars. Their three great saints are S. Augustine, S. Nicholas of Tolentino, and S. Thomas of Villanova. Among their illustri is Pope Eugenius IV.
The Church of the Eremitani in Padua dates from the thirteenth century, but it has been much restored, notably so late as 1880. It is a long and spacious building with a painted roof of wood, and it contains several precious works of art.
To begin with, over the main door is a fine Giottesque Crucifix, attributed, however, to Guariento, an early painter of this city, who was of so gneat importance in his day that he was chosen first to adorn the Hall of Great Council in Venice in 1365 with a Paradise. He seems to have executed several works in this church, some allegories of the planets, and in the choir small scenes in monochrome of such subjects as Christ Crowned with Thorns, the Via Crucis, the Ecce Homo, and the Resurrection. A large Crucifixion is to be found above these, also from his hand. He seems to have been very little if at all influenced by Giotto.
Close by the entrance of the church are two painted altars of terra-cotta by Giovanni Minello, that to the right with a sixteenth-century fresco. Near to these are the fine late Gothic tombs of Ubertino da Carrara (13381345) and Jacopo da Carrara (13451350), by Andreolo dei Santi, of Venice, from the church, now demolished, of S. Agostino.
But when all is said, the great treasure of the church remains the frescoes of Mantegna, in the Cappella di SS. Jacopo and Cristoforo. Andrea Mantegna, the greatest of the Paduan painters, whose genius influenced almost every school of art in Italy, was the son of a certain Biagio “a respectable citizen of Padua,” and was born at Vicenza in 1431. He was adopted as son by Squarcione, the founder of the later Paduan school, in 1441, and married Nicolosa, the daughter of Jacopo Bellini, of Venice. This great man may have been influenced to some extent by his father-in-law, as he certainly was by the work of Donatello and of Paolo Uccello, but he is among the most original masters who ever lived, combining a strong realism with a love of antiquity, and a profound feeling for decoration with an extraordinary power over the expression of life. He is said to have painted a Madonna and Child for the High Altar of some church in Padua at the age of seventeen, but the earliest work of his that remains to us is a lunette dated 1452 in the Santo here. The most important and beautiful works of his youth, however, are the frescoes he painted in the chapel of SS. Jacopo and Cristoforo in the Eremitani.
This chapel is painted in fresco by more than one hand. The Four Evangelists on the ceiling are doubtless the earliest as they are the feeblest part of the work ; like the four upper sections of the right wall, they are the work of some unknown and feeble scholars of Squarcione’s school. The work on the walls and vaultings of the recesses of the choir are also by an inferior hand to Mantegna’s, though they are able enough, probably by Niccolo Pizzolo, a Paduan painter who died when still young. The lower pictures on the right wall and all the work on the left are by Mantegna, and it is to these frescoes we shall now confine ourselves.
The frescoes on the left wall are concerned with the life of S. James from his call by Our Lord to his martyrdom. They were painted between 1453 and 1459, and the upper scenes are the earlier. The execution and burial of S. Christopher, the lowest pictures on the right wall, are somewhat later work, but their sad condition does not allow us fully to enjoy them. It is in the pictures relating to S. James that we may best see the range and quality of Mantegna’s art, his realistic simplicity, his mastery of action, his dignity of composition, and the monumental character of his figures, which might, indeed, all be portraits. Nor is it only in his figures his children are deliciousthat he shows himself to be the great master he is. In his treatment of architecture and ornament he shows him-self to have the finest knowledge of antiquity, and as a whole these works, so full of life, of learning, and of the mastery of expression, are equally splendid as decoration. They fill the chapel with the spaciousness of the sky, with the fine proportions of great palaces, the splendour of great arches, and yet not for a moment do we wish a single figure, a single building, away or different. And the finish of these works remains as splendid as their conception. Yet we do not see them in anything of their freshness, but removed from the walls and transferred to canvas.
Leaving the Eremitani by the Via Cittadella, which brings us into the Via Garibaldi, we turn back to the right, and, following the tram lines across the Ponte Molino, come into the Piazza Petrarca. Here is the church and convent of the Carmine.
Petrarch, who, as we shall see, died among the Euganean hills at Arquà, spent much time in Padua. It was here Boccaccio found him in 1349 when he came on behalf of the Florentine Republic to offer the poet a chair in the new University. It was to this visit that Boccaccio alluded in a letter written to Petrarch from Ravenna in July, 1353. He there reminds his best master” of his visit. ” I think,” he writes, ” that you have not forgotten how, when less than three years ago I came to you in Padua, the ambassador of our Senate, my commission fulfilled, I remained with you for some days, and how that those days were all passed in the same way : you gave yourself to sacred studies, and I, desiring your compositions, copied them. When the day waned to sunset we left work and went into your garden, already filled by spring with flowers and leaves. . . . Now sitting, now talking, we passed what remained of the day in placid and delightful idleness, even till night.” It is pleasant to think of these two poets passing up and down the Padua streets, talking of Dante, as one may feel sure Boccaccio did not fail to do, perhaps insisting on visiting his lodging in the Contrada S. Lorenzo, while Petrarch wondered why.
The great chunch of the Carmine, which faces this piazza, was first built with its monastery in 1202. In 1300 it was rebuilt, and after earthquakes in 1470, 1503, and 1695 was very considerably restored. It contains nothing of much interest. In the Scuola attached to it, entered from the cloister, however, there are several damaged frescoes of the sixteenth century from the hands of Titian, Girolamo da S. Croce, Domenico Campagnola, and Palma Vecchio. The fresco by Titian is a genuine work by the master, painted in 1511, representing the meeting of Joachim and Anna at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. The landscape is still very fine, and the whole work is thoroughly Giorgionesque.
Returning into the city by the Ponte Molino, we notice a tower which Ecelino is said to have built in 1250, and which commemorates his tyranny in the city. Passing thence straight on by the Via Dante, we presently come to the Loggia del Consiglio, a fine Early Renaissance building, and turning there to the left into the Piazza Unita d’ Italia, come a little further on into the Piazze dei Frutti and delle Erbe, where stand the sixteenth-century Palazzo del Municipio and the great Salone or Juris Basilica, built in 1172-1219, the logge being added in 1306.
This great hall is well worth a visit, for it is 273 feet long, 90 feet broad, and 95 feet high. Among other things, it contains the wooden model of Donatello’s horse for the Gattamelata statue by S. Antonio. At the end of the Piazza behind the Municipio is the University.
Returning to the Via Dante, we follow it into the Piazza del Duomo, built by Andrea della Valle in 1551. It is an unfinished Late Renaissance building, and contains nothing of interest. In the Baptistery hard by, a fine building of the twelfth century, are some fourteenth-century frescoes attributed to Giusto Padovano.
From the Duomo we return again through the Piazza delle Erbe till we come to the Via S. Francesco, out of which we turn almost at once on the right into the Via del Santo, which brings us straight into the Piazza del Santo before the great many domed temple that has risen over the shrine of S. Antonio.
Before the church stands one of the greatest equestrian statues in the world, Donatello’s Gattamelata. It is a strange position to have selected for the monument of a great captain, this on the threshold of the shrine of a great saint. For Erasmo da Narni General Gattamelata was till his death in 1443 a man of war, a condottiere in the service of the Venetians, who granted his family this site in Padua for the monument they wished to erect. And this equestrian statue which Donatello made was what they chose. Nothing more noble could be conceived, and Donatello’s task was the more honourable on account of its difficulty. No equestrian statue had been made in bronze in Italy since the Empire. He had no model save the Marcus Aurelius at Rome and Nero’s bronze horses in Venice. For about twenty years he laboured at it, with the result we see a result which is beyond criticism, which we can only love and admire. The tombs of the great soldier and his son we shall find in the church.
But what is this church, named, it might seem, so arrogantly II Santo? To answer that question we must first ask who Il Santo was. He was S. Antony of Padua. But that takes us little further, for the barest inquiry shows us that S. Antony was born at Lisbon in 1195, and, moreover, received at his christening the name of Ferdinand. This, however, he changed when he became a son of S. Francis for that of Antony, it is said from devotion to the great Abbot Anthony, the patriarch of monks ; for it was in a chapel under his invocation that S. Antony of Padua was received into the Franciscan Order. His father was an officer, by name Martin de Bullones, who fought in the army of El Consultador. As a youth Antony was one of the community of Canons of the Cathedral of Lisbon, where he had his schooling. But not long after he had, at the age of fifteen, ” entered among the regular Canons of S. Austin”; he desired greater seclusion and silence, and so went to the Convent of the Holy Cross, belonging to the Order, at Coimbra. There he appears to have become enamoured of the ascetic life, and to have followed it during eight years. Suddenly a new idea came to him. Don Pedro, Infant of Portugal, about that time brought, with what pomp and reverence we may imagine, the relics of five Franciscans, lately martyred, from Morocco. Antony was immediately possessed by an enthusiasm for that Order, desiring above all things to lay down his life in the cause of Our Lord. The Franciscans, seeing his enthusiasm, encouraged him to join them, a step from which naturally the Canons of Holy Cross endeavoured to dissuade him. But in all the struggles, both interior and with his fellows, that followed it was the poverty and austerity of the Franciscan Order that attracted him, and that in the end compelled him to desert the Canons.
In 1221 he, having obtained the consent of his prior, entered into the Franciscan Order, taking the name of Antony, and, consumed by his enthusiasm, he early set out for Africa, to seek martyrdom and to preach the Gospel. Illness obliged him to return to Spain. In this he saw the hand of God. For by chance the ship in which he sailed, baffled from its course by contrary winds, touched at Messina, where Antony heard that S. Francis, his hero, was holding a “general chapter” at Assisi. Thither he went in spite of his sickness, and having set eyes on the Little Poor Man he desired never again to leave him, and determined not only to forsake his friends but his country also that he might stay near S. Francis. No superior, however, would agree ” to be troubled ” with him in his condition of illness, till at length a certain Gratiani, from Romagna, sent him to a hermitage on Monte Paolo, near Bologna. Here he buried himself in silence, permitting neither his learning nor his communications with God to be so much as guessed at ; till one day the Franciscans were entertaining some Dominican Friars, and the Franciscan superior, wishing to show his guests honour, desired one of them “to make an exhortation to the company.” But they all made excuse, saying they were unprepared. Then the superior desired Antony to speak just as God should direct him, and he too begged to be excused, saying that he had only been used to wash the dishes in the kitchen and to sweep the house. However, he was commanded to proceed under holy obedience, and all were astonished, not alone at his humility but at his eloquence and learning. All this came to the ears of S. Francis, who sent Antony to Vercelli to study and to teach. Later we find him at Bologna, Padua, Toulouse, and Montpellier. But soon he forsook the schools for preaching, and in this his mission he passed through many lands, making many converts and performing many miracles. At last he came face to face with the great devil of the time, Ecelino da Romano. This fiend in human shape had murdered more than 11,000 persons in Padua in one day, and the city of Verona, too, had “through him lost most of its inhabitants.” Antony without fear confronted him and told him his crimes, when, instead of ordering his guards to murder the saint, ” to their great astonishment Ecelino descended from his throne, pale and trembling, and, putting his girdle round his own neck as a halter, cast himself at the feet of the humble servant of God, and with many tears begged him to intercede with God for the pardon of his sins. The saint lifted him up and gave him suitable advice to do penance. Ecelino seemed for some time to have changed his conduct, but after the death of the saint relapsed into his former disorders.” Well might Pope Gregory IX. call Antony the Ark of the Covenant, well may the people of Padua call him Santo.
Antony’s last years were unhappy on account of the divisions in the Order then after S. Francis’s death suffering from Frate Elias, We hear of a visit to La Verna, in Tuscany, where S. Francis received the Stigmata, and a little later we find him provincial in Romagna. But presently he retired to Padua, and died there on 13 June, 1231, in his thirty-seventh year. At the news of his death we hear the children ran about the streets crying, ” II Santo è morto.” He was canonized by Gregory IX in the following year, and about thirty years later the great Church of IL Santo was built in Padua, and his relics were there interned.
That might seem an uneventful life, in spite of the encounter with Ecelino, to call forth so huge a church, containing, as it does, chapels belonging to all nations, till we remember that St. Antony’s career really began with his death. The great fact about him for us all is that he finds what is lost, sometimes for love and always at a very reasonable rate, and that he devotes these offerings as often as not to the poor. This fact explains at once the vast and ugly church which so hugely covers his poor bones.
Huge as it is, however, and ugly, it contains very little worth the trouble of seeing, but that little is most precious. For instance, over the main door in a lunette is a fresco by Mantegna of S. Bernardino and S. Antony holding the monogram of Our Lord. Within the church are two fine holy water basins, perhaps by Tullio Lombardo. By the second pillar, on the right, is the simple monument of a very ornate personage, Cardinal Bembo. The church is curiously full, too, of the tombs of Venetian generals. Alessandro Contarini lies in a sumptuous tomb by the second pillar on the left. In the first chapel, on the right, General Gattamelata sleeps in a fine tomb by Donatello, or rather by some pupil, perhaps Bellano of Padua. The same man made the tomb here of Gattamelata’s son, Giovanni. In the left aisle, close to the Cappella del Santo, sleeps Caterina Cornaro.
The Cappella del Santo, a late Renaissance work, has little attraction save the religious. The Cappella S. Felice opposite, formerly S. Jacopo, was built in 1372 by Andreola dei Santi, of Venice, but it was dreadfully restored in 1773. It possesses a fine altar with statues of the Madonna and Child with saints of 1503, and is still decorated with frescoes of 1376 by Altichieri and Jacopo d’ Avanzo of Verona, but very much restored. They are, however, by far the most interesting paintings in the church.
The great treasure of Il Santo is, however, the choir with its marble screen, designed by Donatello, and the High Altar, originally a design of the same master’s, and still possessing his original sculptures and bronzes. It was for this work that Donatello came to Padua in 1443. Later he was commissioned to design and cast the Gattamelata, and altogether he was some ten years in the city.
Beside IL Santo is the Scuola, the house of the Guild of S. Antony. This hall was decorated with seventeen frescoes, of which three were by Titian, but they have all been restored in oil, and it would be hard to discover Titian’s hand there now.
Close by is the Cappella S. Giorgio, once the burial chapel of the Marchesi di Sovagna, built in 1377. It contains some very splendid frescoes by Altichieri and Jacopo d’ Avanzo of Verona, representing the story of S. Lucy, the story of S. Catherine, and the story of S. George, with the Crucifixion, the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin, the Flight into Egypt, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Nativity.
Next door is the Museo, which contains so little of interest as to be scarcely worth a visit if it were not for a Madonna and Child by Marco Basaiti, an injured altarpiece by Squarcione, a S. Patrick by Tiepolo, a large altarpiece by Romanino, and a few other interesting works. Far better worth visiting is the vast Church of S. Giustina, which, beside some interesting relics of old time, proudly shown by the sacristan, has a splendid altarpiece, the Martyrdom of S. Justina, by Paolo Veronese.