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BEATA CATERINA VIGRI, a most diligent painteress, both in oil and miniature, born at Bologna, in 1413, where she introduced the order of St. Chiesa, in the noble monastery of Corpus Domini, which was founded there; amongst other fine paintings, one is much esteemed of our Saviour when an infant. She died in 1463, having lived so that she was venerated by all her acquaintance.
ALBERT ONWALER, a Dutch painter, was bom 3t Haerlem in 1414, and died in 1515. He painted historical subjects.
COSMO ROSELLI, an Italian historical painter, born at Florence in 1416, and died in 1484, aged sixty-eight. Hebecame an artist of some note in that city, by having successfully painted the portraits of Picus Mirandola, and several of the Florentine nobility; having likewise painted some historical designs in the convents and chapels. Afterwards he was engaged to paint three pictures in the chapel of pope Sixtus IV., along with Sandro Boticelli Pietra Perugino, and others; and his subjects were the drowning of Pharaoh, the Last Supper, and Christ preaching near the sea of Tiberias; subjects, which, it is said, the pope particularly chose, who at the same time promised an honorary premium for the best performance. Roselli, who seems to have had but a mean opinion of the taste of Sixtus, being conscious that he could have no hope of surpassing the other artists in colouring and design, in which parts of his profession his skill was but indifferent, concluded he might conceal these defects by giving his pictures an uncommon brilliancy. He therefore used the purest ultramarine, and the most glaring colours in every part of his painting, and illuminated the trees, draperies, and principal objects with gold, so as to dazzle the eye at the first sight, to compensate for his want of a true and elegant taste, by the glittering richness of the general appearance; and he satisfied himself with a certainty of success. But, to the great mortification and disappointment of Roselli, when the pope went to his chapel to observe the works of the different artists, those of Roselli were universally condemned and ridiculed; and by order of the pope, the greater part of his compositions were altered and retouched by those very painters who were his competitors.
DOMINIC VENETIANO, an Italian historical painter, born at Venice in 1420, and died in 1476, aged fifty-six. He was a disciple of Antonelli da Messina, from whom he learned the art of painting in oil, at that time known in Italy only by Antonello, as the secret had been communicated to them alone by John Vandyke, the original discoverer. He painted several pictures at Loretto and Florence, that were exceedingly admired; but in the latter city he connected himself unhappily with Andrea del Castagno, who invidiously and treacherously murdered him while he was serenading his mistress, and accompanying the lute with his voice. That detestable action was committed by Andrea, partly that he might preserve the secret of painting in oil from any other artist; but as much out of envy on observing that the works of Dominic were abundantly more commended than his own.
DAMIANO MAZZA, an Italian historical painter. Italian historians are silent as to the circumstances of the birth and death of this artist. He was born at Padua, in which city he was taught the rudiments of painting; but he travelled to Venice, and placed himself as a disciple with Titian, whose manner he carefully studied, and imitated it with very great success. Having in a few years sufficiently improved himself under that incomparable master, he returned to Padua, and was employed to paint the history of the rape of Ganymede, which subject he executed with such elegance of taste, and with so charming a tint of colour, that it might deservedly be taken for the composition and hand of Titian. However, the art of painting was too soon deprived of one of its greatest ornaments, by the untimely death of Damiano Mazza, who was cut off in the flower of his age, at a time also, when there was a general expectation of his being equal to any of the greatest masters of Italy.
FILIPPO LIPPI, called the Old, an Italian historical and portrait-painter, born at Florence in 1421, and died in 148S, aged sixty-seven. He was educated in a convent of Carmelites, and at the age of sixteen he had an opportunity of seeing Masaccio at work, in painting the chapel of that convent, which inspired him with an eager desire to learn the art. He therefore became a disciple of that master, and studied design with inexpressible assiduity, making so rapid a progress, that he not only pleased, but surprised Masaccio. The praises given him by his friends, as well as his instructor, wrought so strongly on his mind, that he forsook the convent, threw off the habit, and devoted himself to the profession of painting. He endeavoured to obtain as much instruction as possible from Masaccio, and very happily imitated his manner: yet the course of his studies was for some time interrupted, by an accident which detained him in Barbary for a year and a half; for while he was amusing himself in the company of some of his friends, on board a felucca in the Mediterranean, a corsair, who was cruising near the shore, took them all prisoners, and carried them into captivity. But Lippa having one day drawn the portrait of his master with a piece of charcoal on a wall, the master was so affected with the novelty of the performance, and the exactness of the resemblance, that, after obliging him to paint the portraits of a few other persons, he generously restored him to liberty. On his return to Europe, he went to his native city Florence, and for a considerable time he was employed by the grand duke. The merit of his works recommended him, not only to the particular esteem of that prince and the nobility, but also to the ecclesiastics, who engaged him For several noble compositions for their churches and convents. It is observed of Lippi, that he was the first of the Florentine painters who attempted to design figures as large as the life; the first who remarkably diversified the draperies, or who gave his figures the air of the antique. He was a man of very loose morals, and seduced a nun to elope with him from the conr vent of Prato, where she sat to him as a model for the picture of the Virgin; and though her friends severely reproached him for his misconduct, yet he afterwards engaged himself in another criminal intrigue, for which the parents of the lady caused him to be poisoned. But other writers say, that he died of poison at Spoletto, from the resentment of a person of that city, with whose wife he held a criminal conversation while painting the altar-piece of the cathedral at Spoletto; the design of which picture was exceedingly grand, though it was left unfinished by the unfortunate death of the artist. His • colouring was extremely agreeable, and his manner, like that of his master Masaccio, was grand and elegant, his draperies were broad and loose, and his figures had a competent degree ©f grace, with a good expression.
GENTILE BELLINI, a painter of history and portraits, was born at Venice in 1421, and instructed by his father Gia«conio, who was himself an artist in the art of painting, both in distemper and in oil. He was employed by the doge to paint the hall of the great council, and he executed several considerable works for several of the nobility. His reputation reaching to the Ottoman court, he was invited by Mahomet jf II. to Constantinople, where he was honourably entertained, and employed in painting the portrait of the emperor, and in various other performances. It is said, however, that the emperor ordered the head of a slave to be cut off in the presence of Bellini, in order to convince him of the incorrectness of a picture which he had painted of the decollation of St. John the Baptist; but the sight affected his mind to such a degree, that he was never easy till he obtained leave to return to his own country. Mahomet, before his departure, put a gold chain about his neck, and dismissed him with letters of recommendation to the senate of Venice, which procured for him a pension for life, and an admission into the order of St. Mark. Vasari mentions a sea fight, painted by this master, which had extraordinary merit, He died in 1501.
GIOVANNI BELLINI, was born at Venice in 1422, and surpassed both his father and his brother in every branch of painting. He is accounted the founder of the Venetian school by introducing the practice of painting in oil, which had been communicated to his father by Dominic and Andrea del Castagna, as some say; or which, according to De Piles, he obtained from Antonio of Messina; and by teaching his scholars to paint after nature. The school of Giovanni produced two memorable disciples; Titian and Giorgione, who brought the art of colouring to its highest perfection; and Giovanni himself, by observing the works of these famous artists, improved his own manner very considerably; so that in his latter pictures the colouring is much better, and the airs of the heads are noble, although his design is somewhat gothic, and his attitudes not well chosen. He died in 1512.
ALONZO BERRUGUETE, a Spanish artist, was born at Parades de Nava, near Valladolid, and died at Madrid, at a great age, in 1545. He was the scholar of Michael Angelo, and was knighted by Charles V. In the cathedal of Toledo is one of his finest sculptures, representing the transfiguration. He was also a good painter and architect.
ANTONELLO, a painter of history and portraits, commonly called Antonio du Messina, where he was born in 1426, and died in 1475, aged 49. He was one of the first masters of the Italian school, who practised the art of painting in oil, which he acquired from John Van Eyck, of Bruges. He communicated the secret to two painters of the names of Bellini and Domenico from which last Andrea del Castagna obtained the knowledge of it, and from the desire of being sole possessor of the secret, basely assassinated him, by which incident the art of painting in oil became progressively known, and generally practised throughout all Italy.
PETER PALLAGUOLO, an Italian historical painter, born at Florence in 1428, and died in 1498, aged 70. He became a disciple of Andrea del Castagno; he rendered himself considerable and was in great reputation for his performances in oil colours, and distinguished himself for portraitpainting as well as for history. He painted in particular the portraits of Poggio, who wrote the history of Florence, and of many of the nobility, in a size as large as life, which procured him the greatest applause. Among the historical subjects which he executed, are mentioned some of the labours of Hercules painted in the Medicean palace. His brother Antony was also an excellent painter.
LEONE BATTISTA ALBERTI, was descended from a noble family in Florence; and was perfectly acquainted with painting, sculpture, and architecture. He wrote on all these subjects in Latin; but his studies did not permit him to leave any thing considerable behind him in painting. He was employed by pope Nicholas V. in his buildings, whicd he executed in a beautiful manner; and his work on architecture, which consists of ten books, is greatly esteemed. He also wrote some treatises of morality, and a piece on arithmetic. He died in 1485.
LUCA PIGNORELLI, an Italian historical painter, born at Costona in 1439, and died in 1521, aged 82. He excelled in designing human figures, and displayed great fire and genius in his compositions. Michael Angelo did not disdain to copy after him.
ALEXANDER BOTTICELLI, was born at Florence in 1437, and learned the rudiments of painting under Philip Lippi. He executed several pictures for pope Sixtus IV. and the city of Florence, for which he got large sums of money, yet died at last in great distress, aged 78. He was a man of letters. The famous edition of Dante's Poem of Hell, printed at Florence by Magna, A.D. 1481, and to which Botticelli undertook to write notes, was evidently intended to have been ornamented with prints, one for each canto; a few of which were designed, if not engraved, by Botticelli. The two last plates only were printed upon the leaves of the book, and for want of a blank space at the head of the first canto, the plate belonging to it is placed at the bottom of the page. Blank spaces are left for all the rest; that as many of them as were finished might be pasted on. Mr. Wilbraham possesses the finest copy of this book extant in any private library; and the number of prints in it amount to 19. The two first, as usual, are printed on the leaves, and the other 17, which follow regularly, are pasted on the blank spaces. These seem to have been all that Botticelli ever executed. About 1460, he engraved a set of plates, representing the Prophets and Sibyls.
FRANCISCO PESELLI, an Italian painter, born at Florence in 1440, and died in 1517, aged 77. He was a disciple of Andrea del Castagno, whose style and manner he always imitated. He was particularly fond of painting animals, studying every species after nature with singular care : and in order to have those objects ready on any occasion, to paint them after life with greater exactness, he constantly preserved a variety of animals under his own roof to serve him as models, and represented them with a spirit, life, truth, and nature, far superior to any of the artists of his time. Till he was 30 years of age he continued with Castagno, and by that time he was considered as a very eminent master. He painted historical subjects as well as animals, he worked in fresco as well as in oil; and finished several fine designs in the chapels and palaces at Florence, which were beheld with approbation. But he obtained uncommon applause for one composition, which was the Wise Men offering to Christ gold, frankincense, and myrrh.