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insufficient windows. “Over those windows are to be placed three others,” answered Michael. “You never said that before,” answered one of the cardinals. To this Michael indignantly replied, “I am uot, neither will I ever be, obliged to tell your eminence, or any one else, what I ought or am disposed to do; it is your office to see that money be provided, to keep off the thieves, and to leave the i. of St. Peter's to me.” The pope decided in Michael's favour. From that time Julius prosecuted no work in paint.ing or sculpture without Michael's advice; and his estimation of him was so high, that he told him at a public audi. ence, that if he died before himself, he should be embalmed, and kept in his own palace, that his body might be as permanent as his works. Soon after the death of Julius III. in 1555, Paul IV., the new pontiff, expressed his displeasure of the academical figures in the Last Judgment, and intimated an intention to “reform” the picture. Michael sent this message to him: “What the pope wishes, is very little, and may be easily effected; for if nis holiness will only ‘reform' the opinions of mankind, the picture will be reformed of itself." This holy father plunged Italy in blood by his vindictive passions; and while war ravaged its o Michael, at the age of 82, retreated or a while to a monastery. On coming from his seclusion, he wrote to Vasari, “I have had a great deal of pleasure in visiting the monks in the mountains of Spoleto: indeed, though I am now returned to Itome, I have left the better half of inyself with them; for in these troublesome times, to say the truth, there is no happiness but in such retirement.” The death of this pope filled Rome with “tumultuous joy," and the papal chair was ascended by Pius IV., in whose pontificate, wearied and reduced by the incessant attacks and artifices of his enemies, Michael, at the age of 87, resigned his office of architect to St. Peter's; but the pope, informed of the frauds which had occasioned it, reinstated him, and to induce him to retain the appointment, ensured strict adherence to his designs until the building should be completed. At the age of eighty-nine a slow fever indicated Michael Angelo's approaching decease. His nephew, Leonardo Buonarrotti, was sent for ; but not arriving, and the sever increasing, he ordered the persons who were in the house into his
chamber, and in the presence of them and his physicians uttered this verbal will:— “My soul 1 resign to God, my body to the earth, and my worldly possessions to my nearest of kin:” then admonishing his attendants, he said, “In your passage through this life, remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ.” Thus died one of the greatest artists, and one of the noblest men of modern times. The ceremony of his funeral was conducted at Rome with great pomp, but his remains were removed within a month to Florence, and finally deposited in the church of Santa Croce at Florence. In 1720, the vault was opened; the body retained its original form, habited in the costume of the ancient citizens of Florence, in a gown of green velvet, and slippers of the same. According to his English biographer, Mr. Duppa, Michael Angelo was of the Iniddle stature, bony in make, rather spare, and broad shouldered ; his con:plexion good, his forehead square and “somewhat" projecting; his eyes hazel and rather small ; his brows with little hair; his nose flat from a blow given him in his youth by Torrigiano; his lips thin; his cranium large in proportion to his face. Within these pages a detail of his works will not be sought. The few particulars mentioned are from Mr. Duppa's quarto life, where many of them are enu
merated, and outline sketches of some of
says its original was a drawing supposed to have been made by Julio Bonasoni, from which Mr. Duppa presumes that ar. tist to have etched a print bearing his name, and dated in the year 1546. There is an engraved portrait dated 1545, without any artist's name attached. Mr. Duppa says, “of these two prints Bonasoni's is much the best ; and although the second has a prior date, it appears to have been engraved from the same original.” That “original,” whatever it was, is no longer in existence. Certainly Bonasoni's print is better as a print, for it has the grace of that master's point, yet as a likeness the print of 1545 seems to the editor of the Every-day Book to have a stronger claim to regard; not because it is of prior date, but because it has more decisive marks of character. He conjectures, that the
Michael Angelo was remarkable for nothing but his genius. He slept little, and was abstemious; he was accustomed to say, “However rich I may have been, I have always lived as a poor man.” He obtained the reputation of being proud and odd; for he found little pleasure in the society of men from whom he could not learn, or whom he could not teach. He was pleased by originality of character in whatever rank he met with it; and cultivated in mature life the society of persons respected for their talents and learning. When young he endeavoured to acquaint himself with every branch of knowledge that could contribute to his improvement. In common with all who have obtained a deserved eminence, he was never satisfied with his performances; if me perceived an imperfection that might have been avoided, he either threw aside the work in disgust, or commenced it anew.
He continued to study to the end of his life. In his old age the cardinal Farnese found him walking in solitude amidst the ruins of the Coliseum and expressed his surprise. Michael answered, “I go yet to school that I may continue to learn.” He lived much alone. His great excess seems to have been indulgence in reflection, and the labours of his profession. The power of generalizing facts, and realizing what he conceived, he drew from this habit: without it some men have become popular for a time, but no man ever became great.
Grandeur is Michael Angelo's prevailing sentiment. In his architecture of St. Peter's, he seems to have been limited by the impossibility of arriving to excellence without adopting the ancient styles, and the necessity of attempting something great without them; and to speak with the severity of uncompromising truth he failed. Of what else he did in that science, and he did much, for which he obtained deserved renown, there is neither room nor occasion to speak. In Painting and sculpture, if he did not always succeed in embodying his feelings, yet he succeeded more frequently than any other artist since the revival of arts; and, as his power was greater than theirs, so he accomplished greater works. His aim was elevated as that of the giants who warred against the fabled gods; in one respect he was unlike them— he conquered. Majestic and wild as na
ture in her undescribable sublimity, he achieved with corresponding greatness and beauty. His forms and their intellectual expression are of the highest order. He never did any thing little. All was in harmony with a mind which he created of himself by adding fact to fact, by severe reading, by close observation, by study, by seclusion. He was the quarrier, and architect, and builder-up of his own greatness.
Sir Joshua Reynolds speaks with becoming deference of Michael Angelo's powers—“It will not be thought presumptuous in me to appear in the train, I cannot say of his imitators, but of his admirers. I have taken another course, one more suited to my abilities, and to the taste of the times in which I live. Yet however unequal I feel myself to that attempt, were I now to begin the world again, I would tread in the steps of that great master: to kiss the hem of his garment, to catch the slightest of his perfections, would be giory and distinction enough for an ambitious man. He was the bright luminary from whom painting has borrowed a new lustre, under wilose hands it assumed a new appearance, and became another and superior art, and from whom all his contemporaries and successors have derived whatever they have possessed of the dignified and majestic.”
There are excellent casts from three of Michael Angelo's statues exhibited by Mr. West at Mr. Bullock's museum, in Piccadilly ; they are, Christ, from the church of Sta. Maria at Florence, Lorenzo de Medici from his monument, and the celebrated Moses, from the church of St. Pietro, in Vincoli, at Rome. The editor of the Every-day Book has conversed with persons who think themselves pupils and students in sculpture and painting without having seen these !
Michael Angelo had studied anatomy profoundly... Condivi, who was his pupi: and one of his biographers, says that his knowledge of human anatomy and of other animals was so correct, that those who had studied it as a profession all their lives, scarcely understood it so well. When he began to dissect he conceived disgust from the offensiveness of the operation and desisted; but reflecting than it was disgraceful to abandon what other,
sould achieve, he resumed and pursued it to the fullest extent. Perceiving the utility of Albert Durer's “Treatise on the Proportions of the Human Body,” he deemed it capable of improvement. Its rules were in his opinion insufficient and too mechanical, and he contemplated a treatise to exhibit the muscles in their various action. A friend, whom he consulted on the subject, sent him the body of a fine young Moor, which he dissected and made remarks on, but they were never [. The result of his anatomical nowledge may be seen in the powerful muscular developement of his figures: he left no part undefined
Several remarks occur in the course of Michael Angelo's letters concerning his art. Speaking of the rivalry between sculpture and painting, he says, “The sculptor arrives at his end by taking away what is superfluous; the painter produces his, by adding the materials which embody the representation to the mind: however, after all, they are both produced by the same intelligence, and the superiority is not worth disputing about, since more time may be lost in the discussion, than would produce the works themselves.” At one time, however, Michael Angelo regarded painting with less favour than he expresses in this letter. It is addressed to Varchi, who wrote a dissertation on the subject, and sent it to him with an inquiry, which had divided the amateurs of Florence, as to whether painting or sculpture required the most talent. Varchi's treatise has the merit of having convinced Michael Angelo that he was in error, and with the truth and candour inseparable from such a character he confessed his mistake. “Of the relative importance of painting and sculpture,” says Michael Angelo, “I think painting excellent in proportion as it approaches relievo, and relievo bad in proportion as it partakes of the character of a picture, and therefore I was used to be of opinion, that painting might be considered as borrowing light from sculpture, and the difference between them as the sun and moon. Now, however, since I have read your dissertation, which treats the subject philosophically, and shows, that those things which have the same end, are one, and the same, I have changed my opinion, and say, that, if greater judgment, labour, difficulty, and
impediment, confer no dignity on the work on which it is bestowed, painting and sculpture may be considered without giving the preeminence to either: and since it has been so considered, no painter ought to undervalue sculpture, and in like manner, no sculptor ought to make light of painting.” Great as Michael Angelo was in art, his intellectual character was greater. “No one,” says Mr. Duppa, “ever felt the dignity of human nature with its noblest attributes more forcibly than Michael Angelo, and his disgust at any violation of principle was acute in proportion to his sensibility and love of truth." He despised and shrunk from the shadow of a meanness: hating the heartlessness of unmeaning profession, he regarded the dazzling simulation which constitutes the polish of society as a soul-cloud. With these commanding views of self dignity he poured out his feelings to his friend Luigi del lticco, in
A MAD RIGA I. Translated by Robert Southey Esq. (From Mr. Duppa's Life of Michael Angelo,
Ill hath he chosen his part who seeks to please
It was one of Michael Angelo's high qualities to bear about him an atmosphere which the parasite dared not approach. no heart-eater could live in it.
He justly estimated whatever was influential in society; and hence though he seemed to look down upon rank as an accident of life, he was net regardless of its use. To those whom distinctions had raised, he paid the deference accorded to their dignities. Yet towards him who touched his integrity, he bore a lofty carriage, and when.ie cond ended to resent
Michael Angelo's temper was “sudden and quick;” but his nature was kind and benevolent. Inferior artists frequently experienced his friendly disposition. He sometimes made drawings and modelled for them. To Minigella, a very indifferent hand, he gave the model of a crucifix beautifully executed, from which the poor fellow formed a mould and made casts of papier mache to sell to the country people. Friendship and esteem for par:icular individuals oftener induced him to undertake works than proliers of large sums. Yet he was not indifferent or insensible to a just estimation of his talents when they were undervalued. For Angelo Doni, a Florentine of taste, he painted a holy family, and sent it home with a note requiring seventy ducats for it. Doni told the messenger he thought forty were enough; Michael replied by demanding the picture or a hundred; I)oni said he was willing to pay the seventy; Michael demanded a hundred and forty, and I'oni paid the sum.
He honoured worthy men in every station. His purse was open to their necessities; he condoled with them in their afflictions, and lightened their oppressions by his sympathies and influence. To artists and men of talent his liberality was munificent. He neither loved money nor accumulated it. His gifts were the free-will offerings of his heat, and hence its dispensations were unaccompanied by a notoriety which sullies the purity of primary obligation, by exposing the nakedness of its object.
Conversing one day witu his old and faithful servant, he said, “What will become of you, Urbine, if I should die?” “I must then seek another master” was the
reply. “Poor fellow,” said Michael, “thou shalt not need another master,” and he gave him two thousand crowns. This was a large sum in those days : Vasari says such a donation would only have been expected from popes and great emperors. Michael afterwards procured him an appointment in the Vatican to take care of the pictures, with a monthly salary of six ducats; and preserving his regard for the old man, Michael, though at that time eighty-two years of age, sat up with him by night in his last illness. “His death has been a heavy loss to me,” he wrote to Vasari, “and the cause of excessive grief, but it has also been a most imressive lesson of the grace of God: for it has shown me, that he, who in his lifetime comforted me in the enjoyment of life, dying has taught me how to die; not with reluctance, but even with a desire of death. He lived with me twenty-six years, grew rich in my service, and I found hire a most rare and faithful servant; and now that I calculated upon his being the staff and repose of my old age he is taken away, and has left the only the hope of seeing him again in paradise."
Michael Angelo was never married. To one who lamented that he had no children to inherit his property, Michael an . swered, “My works must supply their place; and if they are good for any thing they will live hereafter. It would have been unfortunate for Lorenzo Ghiberti, had he not left the doors of S, Giovanni, for his sons and his nephews have long since sold and dissipated his accumulated wealth; but his sculpture remains, and will continue to record his name to future ages.” These “doors” were of bronze. When Michael was asked his opinion of them, he said they were fit to be the doors of paradise.
Throughout the poetry of Michael Angelo, of which there is much in existence, love is a pervading sentiment, though, without reference to any particular object. Condivi had often heard him discourse upon it as a passion platonically; and Mr. Duppa gives the following sonnet, trarslated from the Italian of Michael Angelo by Mr. Wordsworth, as exemplifying Michael's turn of thought: