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Lives of seventy of the most eminent painters, sculptors and architects

by Giorgio Vasari

Excerpt:

Access to the Buonarroti Archives was, by the Commendatore's will, made almost impossible ; but in 1863 Signor Cesare Guasti was permitted to publish Michelangelo's poems from the texts in the archives (they were partially collated with a codex in the Vatican Library). Signor Gnasti's book is still practically the classical edition, since the Rime of Michelangelo the Younger, 1623 was an entirely garbled version. In 1875, when Michelangelo's Quadrieentenary was celebrated, the Commendatore Gaetano Milanesi, Curator of the Arohives of Florence, published a complete edition of four hundred and ninetyfive papers of Michelangelo, documents from all sources, including the Buonarroti Archives. The volnme is the most important existing source for reference. Milanesi also edited Les Correspondants de iftchel-A nge. I. Sebaeliano del Piombo (Italian and French text), Paris, 185)0. This volume contains only those letters which up to 1890 had been unpublished; a complete official edition of all Michelangelo's correspondence will, however, probably be issued by arrangement with the Government.

After the above-mentioned original documents come the invaluable lives by Condivi and Vasari. The first edition of Vasari, in 1550, contained a relatively short life of Michelangelo. Condivi, writing under the eye of the sculptor himself, corrected Vasari's faults and made an indispensable contribution to our knowledge of the artist. (See note 12 for details regarding Condivi's Life of Michelangelo.) Vasari, drawing liberally upon Condivi, published a greatly enlarged Life of Michelangelo, the one which follows; it is especially valuable for the later part of the artist's career. The Dialogues of Francis of Holland and the works or letters of various contemporaries, Varchi, Busini, Vittoria Colonna, Aretino, Calcagni, Tommaso Cavalieri, Leonardo Sellajo, Daniele da Volterra, arc interesting and important aids to our knowledge of the great sculptor. Those who wish relatively complete lists of works published upon Michelangelo should consult first of all Luigi Passerini, La Bibliografla di Michelangelo .Buonarroti, Florence, 1875, a volume of 331 pages, and next the excellent Bibliographic Michelangelesque, arranged according to subject (pages 829 to 840, in V (Euvre et la Vie, 1876) by M. Anatole de Montaiglon; it should, however, be remembered that these two Bibliographies only extend to the year 1876, whereas the Bibliography of Mr. Charles Eliot Norton, List of the Principal Books relating to the Life and Works of Michel-Angelo, is carried up to the year 1879.

Among the modern works upon Michelangelo which the average reader of to-day is likely to consult are several standard lives, Italian, German, French, and English. Signor Gotti's Vita (1875) was the first in which full use was made of documentary evidence, and up to the time of its publication was by far the most important contribution to our knowledge of the great Florentine. In 1876 the Gazette ties Beaux-Arts published (and afterward issued in book form) seven essays by eminent men, speaking each with authority regarding that side of the artist's character with which he was most competent to deal (M. Eugene Guillaume, the sculptor, writing Miehel-Ange Sculpteur ; Charles Garnier, the architect, having an essay upon Michel- Ange Architecte, etc.); the artist is considered also as painter and poet, and M. de Montaiglon contributes a life of Michelangelo which deals especially with historical facts as more or less separated fiom criticism. The book is perhaps the most completely helpful and comprehensive one published upon Michelangelo. John Addington Symonds's Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti is of great value to English readers both for its scholarship and its literary excellence. The author speaks rather as student, and even as poet, than as one who approaches his subject first of all from the plastic side, but his conclusions, though based upon wide and deep knowledge of all the literary sources obtainable, as well as upon the internal evidence of Buonarroti's works, are often independent of, and differ from, the opinions of other students of original documents regarding the artist; in addition, the author's conclusions are expressed with peculiar felicity, his book being fine from the literary point of view. Charles Heath Wilson's Life and Works of Michelangelo Buonarroti is peculiarly valuable for the author's modest and straightforward statement of personal investigations made by himself, from a scaffold expressly constructed, of the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel; the historical part of the book is based upon Signor Gotti's Vita. Anton Springer's Kaffael und Ifichelangelo (third edition, 1895) is the standard German contribution to Michelangelo literature, and deserves praise for its learning and concise criticism. Herr Hermann Grimm has had the honor of giving to the world the earliest history of Michelangelo in whioh the modern methods were to a considerable extent brought to bear upon the subject, although it antedates any considerable use of the Buonarroti archives.

Among the publications of matter contemporaneous with the epoch of Michelangelo are:

Letters.—G. Milanesi, Le Lettere di Michelangelo Buonarroti, publicate, coi Bicordi ed i Contratti artitlici, Florence, 1875 (containing four hundred and ninety-five documents, namely, letters from 1497 to 1563, memoranda from 1505 to 1563, contracts from 1498 to 1548). G. Daelli, Carte Michel angiolache inedite, Milan, 1865 (forty-six fac-aimiles of documents). Bottari, Lettere pittoriche, 1754-73. S. Ciampi, Lettera di Michelangelo Buonarroti (1542), per giustificarsi contro la calumnia degli emuli e dei nemici tuoi nel proposito del sepolcro di papa Giulio IL, Florence, 1834. G. Milanesi, lies Correspondants de Michel-Ange, I., Sebastian del Piombo, Paris, 18'K); Italian text by Milanesi, French text by M. Le Pileur. Portions of the correspondence preserved in the Buonarroti archives were published by Guasti in his notes to the Rime di Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florence, 1863. P. Giovio, supplement to the fragmentary Dialogus de viris litteris illustribus, written circa 1527. Biondo, Della nobilissima pittura et della sua arte, Venice, 1549. Ascanio Condivi, Vita di Michelangelo Buonarroti, Rome, 1553 ; reprinted in Florence, 1746 ; Pisa, 1823 ; Rome, 1&53; Florence, 1858 and 1860; Vienna, 1874 (translated into German by Rudolph Valdeck—Vasari's two editions of Michelangelo's life are compared in this volume with Condivi's text); St. Petersburg, 1874 (translated into Russian by Michel Gelesnow). A particularly valuable edition is that of Carl Frey, Berlin, 1887 (see note 12 in this Life). Benedetto Varchi, Sonnetti due in lode di Michelangelo Buonarroti quando fu scoperta la Sagrestia di San Lorenzo, 1555. L . Dolce, Dialogo della Pittura, Venice, 1557. R. Borghini, Il Riposo, Florence, 1584; Milan, 1807. Francois de Hollande, Dialogues sur la Peinture, published first by Count A. Raczynski in his book Les Arts en Portugal, Paris, 1846. The following are discourses, etc., delivered at the funeral of Michelangelo: Benedetto Varchi, Orazione funerale recitata nelle esequie di Michelangelo Buonarroti in Firenze nella chiesa di San Lorenzo, Florence, 1564. Giov. Maria Tarsia, Orazione, etc., 1564 (with a discourse by Benvenuto Cellini). Benvenuto Cellini's Manuscript of the Funeral Oration is in the Archivio Buonarroti. Leonardo Salviati, Orazione, etc., 1564. Esequie del divino Mtchelangelo Buonarroti, celebrate in Firenze dell' Academia de' Pittori, Florence, 1564.

The following are among the Biographies And General Works On Michelangelo, arranged in chronological order:

Duppa, Life of Michael Angelo, with his Poetry and Letters, and Outlines of Sculptures, Paintings, and Designs, London, 1806,1816, and 1846. G. Piacenza, Vita di Michelangelo Buonarroti, Turin, 1812. H. Beyle, Histoire de la Peinture en Italie, Paris, 1817, 1854. C. Fea, Notizie intorno Raffaele, etc., Rome, 1822. Eugene Delacroix, Michel-Ange, article in the Revue de Paris, XV., 1830 ; reprinted in the Piron Collection in Eugene Delacroix, sa Vie ses (Euvres, Paris, 1865. A. von Reumont, Ein Beitrag zum Leben Michelangelo Buonarroti's, Stuttgart, 1834. Quatremère de Quincy, Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Mirhel-Ange Buonarroti, Paris, 1835. G. Oaye, Carteggio inedito (f artisti, Florence, 1840. J. S. Harford, The Life of Michael Angelo Buonarroti, London, 1857; up to its date of publication this was the most important work upon the artist which had appeared in English; a supplement with twenty plates, and notes by the author, by C. R. Cockerell, and by Canina, was published with the Life. A. P. Rio, Michel-Ange et Raphael, Paris, 1857. C. Clement, Michel-Ange, Leonard de Vinci, Raphael, Paris, 1861, 1867, and later editions. Hermann Grimm, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Hanover, 1860; Berlin, 1862; London (English translation of Fanny E. Bunnett, 1865); Hanover, 1873; Milan (Italian translation by Cossilla), 1875 (Grimm's Life was the first which drew largely from original documents in the British Museum). C. C. Perkins, Tuscan Sculptors, London, 1864 (French translation of M Haussouillier); Paris, 1869. W. Henke, Die Menschen des Michelangelo in Vergleich mit der Antike, Rostock, 1871. G. Garden, Michelangelo (in Swedish),Wisby, 1872. G. Magherini, Michelangiolo, Florence, 1875. Charles Blane, Michel-Ange, Paris, 1875 (extract from VHist. des Peintres, etc.). A. Springer, Michelangelo in Rom., 15081511, Leipsie, 1875. Aurelio Gotti, Vita di Michelangelo Buonarroti, narrata coll' aiuto di nuovi documenti, Florence, 1875. This important work, the standard Life in Italian, was the first in which the archives of the C'asa Buonarroti were freely used; it also contains catalogues of the artist's various works. The illustrations included in the text do not do justice to the sterling character of the book. A. Gotti, Michel-Ange et le Tombeau de Jules II. VArl, IIL, p. 90, Paris, 1875. F. Martinolli, Vitadi Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florence, 1875. UCEnvreet la Vie de Michel-Ange, Paris, 1876; this was originally published in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. It is a valuable series of monographs by specialists. The professional eminence and technical knowledge of some of the contributors make this work especially notable, and its arrangement is particularly clear and consultable. The numerous illustrations are most of them old-fashioned outline cuts, memoranda of composition of line rather than anything else, but the reproductions of the Moses and of the Twilight, particularly of the latter, are superb and are works of art as reproductions. The essays are: Charles Blane, Le 04nie de Michel-Ange dans le deasin; Eugene Guillaume, Michel-Ange, Sculpieur; Pan! Mantz, Michel-Ange, Peintre; Charles Garnier, Michel-Ange, Architecle; A . Mczicres, Mtchel-Ange, Poete; Anatole de Montaiglon, La Vie de Michel-Ange; Louis Gonse, Les fetes du centenaire de Michelange; Anatole de Montaiglon, Essai de Bibliographie Michelangelesque. Charles Heath Wilson, Life and Works of Michelangelo, London, 1876 ; 2d edition, London, 1881; this Life, partly compiled from Signor Gotti's, is remarkable for the personal investigation of the Sistine frescoes, made by Mr. Wilson from a scaffold. These investigations make the book a valuable contribution to the stndy of Michelangelo. J. P. Richter, DU neue Dokumenle uber Michelangelo, Liitzow's Zeitschrift fiir Bildende Kiinst, XI., pp. 55, 117, Leipsie, 1876. C. C. Perkins, Raphael and Michelangelo, Boston, 1878, one of the most excellent works upon the subject. L . Witte, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Leipsie, 1878. Anton Springer, Raffael und Michelangelo, Leipsic, 1878-83-95. The above is the classical German Life of Michelangelo; it is particularly admirable for the careful hearing accorded to all witnesses and the impartial Judgments rendered. The lives of Raphael and Michelangelo are co-ordinated in chapters, which, though not regularly alternating, are given now to one artist, now to the other. In the IV— 3


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