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thor, who, we think, bas produced a pleasing and useful work, It will be received, as a welcome present, by such of our readers as may be desirous of taking a glance at the scenes formerly acted upon the theatre of that eventful drama which at present so strongly fixes the attention of the civilized world.
Art. V, The Life of Michel Angelo Buonarroti, with his Poetry and
Letters. By Ř. Duppa, Esq. 4to. pp. xii, 468. price 31. Ss. Murray. THE author of the present work, has, we believe, been a to
lerably successful adventurer in the trade of authorship. His first publication, if we recollect right, consisted of the materials of an eighteen-penny pamphlet, skilfully dilated into a batidsome and costly little volume: there was some interest, however, in the narrative, and the book sold. Our subsequent knowledge of Mr. Duppa, is derived from some large plates of heads from Raffaelle, somewhat more neatly executed than those of Fidanza, but still by no means adequate to the imposing size in which they appeared, or to the high price at which they were valued. These were succeeded by twelve heads, in fact thirteen--though what the last was inserted for, it is not easy to say from the Last Judgement of Michael Angelo. This publication was somewhat cheaper than the former ; and though less elaborate in execution, and defective in many important requisites of drawing, is well calculated to give an impressive idea of the terrific genius of the celebrated Florentine*
Before we proceed to an examination of the work before us, the largest and most laborious of Mr. Duppa's literary efforts, it may be proper to state, that we do not profess to be very intimately acquainted with the productions of Michael Angelo, which are chiefly, if not exclusively, to be found on
* To each of these heads, it may be worth while to remark, Mr. Duppa's name is affixed in the following terms, R Duppa direxit et delineavit Romæ 1797–8;" and to the two rich vignettes, (one of which is beautiful, and the other a most shocking attempt at the horrible,) it stands thus, “ R. D. sculpsit--fecit.” Now we have every reason to believe that Mr. D. had no farther share in the direction of the engravings, than every artist is accustomed to take, when he resides conveniently for that purpose, by touching upon the unfinished proof ; and with respect to the vignettes, we are quite satisfied that the drawing for that which belongs to the studies from Raffaelle, was made by a far superior hand, and that to the engraving of either he never contributed a single stroke. The real state of the case seems to be, that Mr D. understands nothing about engraving, and that his skill as a draughtsman is not exactly such as to qualify him for the translator of the statues and frescoes of Michael An
the continent. Not, indeed, that it is by any means difficult to talk of the fierceness of his line, his terribil via, and his gran contorno. But having merely enjoyed the common English means of estimating his nerits, we wish to propound any remarks we may find occasion to make, with becoming diffidence.
Michael Angelo was born in the castle of Caprese in Tuscany. His family inherited the honours of nobility; and his father was podesta or governor of Caprese and Chiusi.” At the usual age the youth was sent to school; but it appears that he made little progress in his studies; and, at a very early period, devoted himself to painting under the direction of his friend Francesco Granacci, a pupil of Domenico Ghirlandaio.
• The first attempt Michel Angelo made in painting was with his assistance ; he lent him colours and pencils, and a print representing the story of St. Antony beaten by devils, which he copied on a pannel with such success that it was much admired. In this little picture, besides the figure of the Saint, there were many strange forms and monsters, which he was so intent on representing in the best manner he was capable, that he coloured no part without referring to some natural object He went to the fish-market to observe the form and colour of fins, and the eyes of fish; and whatever in nature constituted a part of his composition, he studied from its source.'
It is not improbable that this accidental selection of a subject, might have some share in determining the future bent of Michael Angelo's genius.
After much opposition on the part of his relations, who thought the profession of an Artist derogatory to the descen. dant of a noble family, the young Buonarroti was at length formally articled to Ghirlandaio, under the extraordinary stipulation, that his miaster was to allow him six florins for the first, eight for the second, and ten for the third year.' He seems, however, to have been little indebted to Domenico, whose jealous character induced him to withhold from his pupil the proper means and opportunities of instruction. But his genius was not to be cramped by these injurious restraints. He studied the antique in the gardens of Lorenzo de Medici, where his first essay in sculpture attracted the notice of that enlightened head of the Florentine state, who took him under his protection, gave him an apartment in his house, introduced him to his friends, and treated him in every respect with paternal kindness. While in this situation, the young artist studied the frescoes of Masaccio, and formed an intimacy with the celebrated Politiano, to whom he was probably indebted for the formation of his literary taste. At the recommendation of this accomplished scholar,
He exccuted a basso-telievo in marble, the subject of which was the battle of Hercules with the Centaurs. This work yet ornaments the dwelling of his descendants ; and although not completely finished, displays great ability. But its highest commendation is, that it stood approved in the riper judgment of Michel Angelo himself; who, although not indulgent to his own productions, did not hesitate on seeing it, even in the decline life, to express his regret that he had not entirely devoted himself to sculpture.'
Piero, the son and successor of Lorenzo, affected to patronize Michel Angelo, and was accustomed to boasts that he had two extraordinary persons in his house: the one, Michel Angelo; the other, a Spanish running footman, who, besides being remarkable for the beauty of his person, was so rapid on foot, and long breathed, that on horseback, riding full speed, he should not get before him. The violent commotions which at that time existed through nearly the whole extent of Italy, soon compelled this weak and worthless descendant of an illustrious race to abdicate his rank, and seek shelter at Bologna, to which city Michael Angelo had previously retired, with the intention of proceeding to Venice. This purpose he was, however, prevailed upon to change by the urgency of Gianfrancesco Aldovrandi, one of the Council of Sixteen, in whose hospitable mansion he took up his abode. , He had resided in Bologna something more than a year when the a fairs of Florence becoming tranquillized, he returned home. Soon after this, he produced his celebrated statue of the Sleeping Cupid, which was sold as a genuine antique to the Cardinal St. Giorgio; and in consequence of the fanye which he ac. quired, on the detection of this proof of his skill, he removed to Rome, where he executed in marble a group of the Vir. gin with a dead Christ in her lap, in Italy called La "Pieta ; and this composition was so admired, that it gave him a de. cided rank of precedence among his contemporaries.' On the elevation of Soderini for life to the office of gonfaloniere of the republic, Michel Angelo returned to his native place, and was employed by Soderini to give form and character to a large piece of niarble, which had for many years lain neglected in Florence, embossed for a gigantic statue, but with so little skill, that it was thought spoiled for any purpose of sculpture.' Dat of this misshapen block” he produced his colossal statue of David. - We are averse froin multiplying extracts, but the fol. lowing affords so accurate an idea of Michael Angelo's high and characteristic spirit, that we cannot pass it by. He was engaged by a Florentine gentleman to paint a Holy Family.
* When the picture was finished it was sent home, with a note porquesting the payment of seventy dueats. Angelo Doni did not expect such a charge, and told the messenger he would give forty, which he thought sufficient. Michel Angelo immediately sent back the servant, and demanded his picture or an hundred ducats. Angelo Doni, not liking to part with it, returned the messenger agreeing to pay the original sum ; but Michel Angelo, indignant at being haggled with, then doubled his first demand; and Angelo Doni still wishing to possess the picture, acceded, rather than try any further experiment to abate his price.
It was under the administration and by the desire of Soderini, that Michael Angelo undertook the cartoon of Pisa. Of this celebrated work, executed in competition with Leonardo da Vinci, and in which of course he put forth all the powers of his mighty mind, Mr. Duppa gives just such a description as we might expect to find in the columns of a newspaper. He copies the account given of it by Vasari, describes a print or two of the principal groups, and gravely informs us that he never saw the copy of this extraordinary composition, which still exists at Holkham, and is, we believe, attributed to Sebastian da San Gallo*.
On the elevation of Cardinal Rovere to the pontificate, under the celebrated name of Julius II., Michael Angelo was among the first invited to his court; and the invitation was accompanied with an order for an hundred ducats to pay his expences to Rome, After some delay, he was employed to construct a magnificent mausoleun for the Pope; and 'having received full powers, commenced a design worthy of himself and his patron, The plan was a parallelogram, and the superstructure was to consist of forty statues, many of which (were) to be colossal, and interspersed with ornamental figures and bronze basso-relievos, besides the necessary architecture, with appropriate decorations, to unite the composition into one stupendous whole.
This design was warmly approved by the Pope : but on , making the necessary arrangements for its erection in the old
church of St. Peter, it was first suggested that an appropriate chapel should be constructed for its reception, and afterwards that the whole church should be rebuilt. On this dietermina. tion Mr. Duppa makes the followilig shrewd coinment
By those who are curious in tracing the remote causes of great events, Michel Angelo perhaps may be found, though unexpectedly, thus to have laid the first stone of the Reformation. His monument demanded a build. ing of corresponding magnificence ; to prosecute the undertaking, money was wanted ; and indulgences were sold to supply the deficiency of the treasury; and a monk of Saxony opposing the authority of the church, produced this singular event, that whilst the most splendid edifice which the world had ever seen was building for the Catholic faith, the religion to which it was consecrated was shaken to its foundation.'
* Such of our readers as wish for further information respecting this cartoon, may consult the ample details and masterly criticisms of Mr. Fu. seli, in hie Lectures on Painting.
This splendid monument was never completed according to the original design; circumstances perpetually arising to vary the different arrangements made at different intervals. Indeed Michael Angelo appears to have sustained more vexation from circumstances connected with this unfortunate transaction, than from all the other mischances of his eventful life. Julius, though strongly and even personally attached to him, seems, notwithstanding, to have treated him with a good deal of caprice. On one of these occasions, when the artist was refused admission to his patron, his lofty spirit took fire.
Tell the Pope,' he sternly replied to the officer who repelled him, that from this time forward, if his holiness wants me, he niust seek me elsewhere ;' and the same evening quitted the papal dominions. Julius dispatched five messengers after him in vain; nor was it until after a regular negociation between the Pope and the government of Florence, that he consented to return, invested with the dignified character of am. bassador. Julius received him with feigned anger, and real pleasure: for when, after a short and rather lofiy apology from the artist, the monsignore who introduced him endeavoured further to extenuate his conduct, by saying, 'that great allowance was to be made for such men, who were ignorant of every thing but their art;' the Pope hastily replied with warmth : Thou hast vilified him, which I have ļot; thou art an ignorant fellow, and no man of genius; get out of my sight:' upon which one of the attendants immediately pushed him out of the room.
On his return to Rome, Michael Angelo was employed by the Pope to paint the frescoes of the Capella Sistina, instead of proceeding with his great monumental work. He was ex.tremely desirous to have this deterinination rescinded, on account of his little practice in painting, and his anxiety to devote himself to sculpture. Among other argunients, he urged that fresco- painting was not his profession, and recommended his holiness to give the commission to Raffaelle, in whose hands it would do honour to them both. His reasoning, however, and entreaties were alike ineffectual; and Julius, who is suspected to have been influenced by Bramante, was inflexible in his resolution. The jealousy of the architect is supposed to have been awakened by the genius of Buonarroti, a and to have led him to suggest the employment of the unri. valled sculptor, in a department of art where his skill as a painter might at least be balanced by the powers of Raffaelle. But this extraordinary man was fated to succeed in every thing he undertook,--to subdue the greatest, and apparently most insurmountable, difficulties. He began his task by giving the architect of St. Peter's a lesson in mechanics. Instead of the