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bungling expedients adopted, of making holes in the ceiling, and slinging up the artist with ropes,
• He designed and executed one ( a scaffolding) so complete, that Bramante afterwards adopted it in the building of St. Peter's ; and it is most probably that simple and admirable piece of machinery now used in Rome whenever there is occasion for scaffolding to repair or construct the interior of public buildings. This invention Michel Angelo gave to the poor man whom he employed as his carpenter; and from the commissions he received for making others on the same construction, he realised a small fortune.'
Of the « sublime circle” with which Michael Angelo decorated the Sistine Chapel, we are sorry to say that Mr. Duppa's description is very imperfect. His plate is valuable, as affording a clear and distinct idea of the composition of the parts, and the distribution of the whole; but its value is very materially diminished, by the absence of a minute history of all the subjects, whether principal or subordinate*. .
The reign of Leo X., Mr. Duppa emphatically observes, is an entire blank in the life of Michael Angelo. The name of this pope is almost identified with the triumphs of literature, and the supremacy of the arts; but the modern biographer of Buonarroti has proved this extent of praise to be, at least, grossly exaggerated. This is by far the ablest part of Mr. Duppa's book; and we half coincide with him in his low estimate of the man who, during the whole of his pontificate, could waste the talents of the greatest genius of his age' in little else than in raising stone out of a quarry, and making a road to convey it to the sea.
During the succeeding administration of Adrian VI., Mi.
* Mr. D. states, in his Illustrations, that in consequence of an explosion of gunpowder this ceiling was damaged, and expresses his wish that the whole might be engraved, which, he says, has never yet been done.' We have in our possession a very bold, rich, and artist-like engraving (2 feet 9 inches high by 1 foot 10 inches wide), of a portion of this magnificent work. It contains the Sybil Erythraca, with the Caryatides, and the recumbent figures on each side ; above are the medallion and the two figures who support it ; below are the youth arranging the festoons of drapery, and the two sitting figures on the same level. The drawing is stated to have been made by Vincent Dolcibene, and the engraying by Dominic Cunego. It is in this kind of style, though with some improvements, that we should like to see the cartoons of Raffaelle engraved. The prints which are now in course of publication are mere mechanical productions, feeble and dry; tolerable specimens, it may be, of the engraver's skill in the use of his tools and the production of his line to an almost insensible point, but too spiriidess, unfeeling, and elaborate to afford an adequate translation of the fire, the character, the soul of the immortal genius whose fame they are designed to extend.
chael Angelo was employed in Florence, by Cardinal de Medici, in erecting a mausoleum for the Medici family, and in executing the monuments of Lorenzo and Giuliano. We have never seen any other representation of these works than the paltry sketches at the end of this volume; but even these indicate the adınirable attitudes of the principal figures. With respect to the allegorical attendants, two of which have been etched by Bisschop, we can only lament our ignorance of the motives for their introduction.
The same cardinal, Giuliano de Medici, succeeded to the tiara on the death of Adrian; and during part of his stormy reign, Michael Angelo resided at Florence, where his active mind was compelled to take a different range, and his versatile talents were conspicuously exerted in the defence of his native city. The accommodation between Francis I. and the Emperor Charles V., had left the petty states of Italy at the mercy of the latter; and in consequence of a private treaty with the Pope, the imperial army laid siege to Florence. In this emergency, Michael Angelo was appointed military ar. chitect and master of the ordnance. It is rather a curious coincidence, that, two or three years before this, the defence of the castle of St. Angelo in Rome, against the same troops, should also have been committed to the care of an artist, Benvenuto Lettini. In this post of honour and danger, An. gelo acted with consummate skill and valour for six months; when, perceiving that the republic was betrayed, and finding that his remonstrances were treated with contempt, he withdrew to Venice, whence, however, he was induced, by the entreaties of his countrymen, to return. He retained his office to the last; baffled the efforts of the Prince of Orange to storm the fortifications; and, on the treacherous surrender of the town, succeeded in concealing himself until the appear. ance of a manifesto, promising him an individual amnesty.
On the accession of Paul III. (Farnese) to the papal chair, after some difficulties arising from the interference of the Duke of Urbino, who insisted upon the completion of the yet unexecuted monument of Julius II., Michael Angelo continued in Rome, and in the employment of the Pope. In the arrangement which was made on this occasion, it was sti. pulated that he should furnish three statues, and that three others should be executed by some other sculptor, to be named, and probably directed, by himself. Of the splendid design which was originally made for this monument, que figure only exists,—the sublime representation of the great lawgiver of the Jews, sitting and holding the tables of the covenani..
In the year 1541, he finished his great picture of the Last VOL. VII.
Judgment;-on which, as we have not seen eren a tolerable transcript, we shall not presume to hazard a single criticism. It is thus described by Mr. Duppa :
Angels are represented as sounding trumpets, the dead as rising from the grave, and ascending to be judged by their Redeemer, who, accompanied by the Virgin Mary, stands surrounded by martyred saints. On his right and left are groups of both sexes, who, having passed their trial are supposed to be admitted into everlasting happiness. On the opposite side to the resurrection and ascension are the condemned, precipitated down to the regions of torment; and at the bottom is a fiend in a boat conducting them to the confines of perdition, where other fiends are ready to receive them. In two compartments at the top of the picture, made by the form of the vaulted ceiling, are groups of figures bearing the different insignia of the passion.'
It should seein, from the heads which Mr. Duppa has published, that the “ great Tuscan” has pourtrayed, with the most powerful and appalling effect, the ferocious malice of the demons, and the despair, the woe, the agony of their victims. 'The most serious exception, it is observed, ' made to the general composition by his contemporaries, was that of vio. lating decorum in representing so many figures without drapery.'
• The first person who made this objection, was the Pope's Master of the Ceremonies, who, seeing the picture when three parts finished, and being asked his opinion, told his holiness that it was more fit for a brothel than the Pope's chapel. This circumstance caused Michel Angelo to in. troduce his portrait into the picture with ass's ears; and not overlooking the duties of his temporal office, he represented him as Master of the Ce. remonies in the lower world, ordering and directing the disposal of the damined; and to heighten the character, he is entwined with a serpent, Dante's attribute of Minos. It is recorded, that the Monsignore peti. toped the Pope to have his portrait taken out of the picture, and that of the painter put in its stead ; to which the Pope is said to have replied, " Had you been in purgatory, there might have been some remedy, but from hell -nulla est redemptio.” The portrait still remains.'
The next undertaking of Michel Angelo was to paint two large pictures in the Capella Paolina, on the subjects of the conversion of St. Paul, and the Martyrdom of St. Peter. * Of these two Mr. Duppa has given outlines. But if his sketches are correct, we can see little to praise in the first; the principal figure being vulgar and uninteresting, and the attendants insignificant and grotesque. The second is of a much supe. rior cast. There is not a single figure in it that has not soine connection with the great event. The attitudes and exertions of the men engaged in raising the cross, are admirably and obviously engaged in directing it towards the cavity in wbich it is to be inseried: the attention, even of the most remote spec.
tator is evidently fixed upon the awful scene; but the principal figure, St. Peter crucified with his head downward, is most horribly expressive. The sway of the body as the cross is raised obliquely,--the involuntary effort made by the reversed head to preserve its natural position, most painfully, but powerfully, realize the agonies of the martyr.
In the year 1546, M. Angelo was appointed to the office of architect of St. Peter's. He wished at first to decline the office, but on receiving the summons of his holiness,' he accepted it; stipulating, among other conditions, that he should be permitted to perform its duties without salary. It would lead us too far, if we were to enter on a series of criticisms on the general style and execution of this magnificent structure. A design had been made, and partly proceeded on, by Bramante. This appears to have been highly approved, but considered as too expensive for the imparerished state of the papal treasury. The subsequent additions and alterations by San Gallo, seem to have been equally at variance with the original model, and the sound principles of art. M. Angelo would probably have recurred to the first design, but from the necessity of lowering the estimates. · He therefore applied himself says Mr. Duppa, to make an original design, upon a reduced scale, on the plan of a Greek cross-the model of San Gallo being more conformable, in the multiplicity and di.. vision of its parts, to the principles of Saracencic than of Grecian or Roman architecture.' " In the course of this great work, which principally occupied the last 17 or 18 years of his life, and which he left unfinished at his death, he was exposed to the continual vexations and intrigues of a “ nest of thieves," as he terms them, who had been discharged by him, at the commencement of his of.. fice, for incapacity and malversation. They had contrived, however, to interest several men of rank and infuence in their cause; and though they could not accomplish their main ob.. ject of setting him aside, were too successful in embittering his declining years. In one instance they obtained a momentary advantage; and in the person of Baccio Bigio,-a miserable architect, of whose ignorance the ruins of the Ponte Rotto are a sufficient memorial,-- gave him a coadjutor; but Angelo appealed to the Pope, and the interloper was dismissed in disgrace. After this,' says Mr. Duppa, 'the time left to him. for the enjoyment of his uncontrolled authority was short."
• In the month of February, 1563, he was attacked by a slow fever, which gave symptoms of his approaching death ; and he desired Daniello da Valterra to write to his nephew, Leonardo Buonarroti, to come to Rome : his fever, however, increased, and his nephew not arriving, in the presence of his physician and others, who were in his house, whom he ordered into his bed-room, he made this short nuncupatiye will: My
soul I resign to God, my body to the earth, and my worldly possession to my nearest of kin;" then admonished his attendants. “In your pas sage through life, remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ ;” and soon after delivering this charge be died, on the 17th of February, 1563.
His funeral was publicly celebrated at Florence; and painters, sculptors, and literary men, emulated each other on this mournful occasion, in contributing to its splendor,
We have already occupied so much space with this article, that we must compress our remaining observations into a very small compass. Our incidental comments render it unnecessary for us to enter into a detailed consideration of Mr. Duppa's concluding criticisms on the works of M. Angelo. Nor shall we add to the number of those who have attempted to delineate the character of this great artist, when we can borrow the language of Mr. Fuseli.
Sublimity of conception, grandeur of form, and breadth of manner, are • the elements of Michael Angelo's style. By these principles he select• ed or rejected the objects of imitation. As painter, as sculptor, as ar.
chitect, he attempted, and above any other succeeded, to unite magnifi. • cence of plan, and endless variety of subordinate parts, with the utmost
simplicity and breadth. His line is uniformly grand : character and 6 beauty were admitted only as far as they could be made subservient to • grandeur. The child, the fernale, meanness, deformity, were by him • indiscrinsinately stamped with grandeur. A beggar rose from his hand • the patriarch of poverty......his women are moulds of generation ; his « infants teem with thư man; his men are a race of giants...... To give the • appearance of perfect ease to the most perplexing difficulty, was the ex
clusive power of Michael Angelo. He is the inventor of epic paint• ing, in that sublime circle of the Sistine Chapel, which exhibits the • origin, the progress, and the final dispensations of theocracy. He has • personified motion in the groups of the cartoon of Pisa; embodied
sentiment on the monument of St. Lorenzo ; unravelled the features of • meditation in the prophets and sybils of the chapel of Sixtus ; and in • the Last Judgment, with every attitude that varies the human body, • traced the master-trait of every passion that sways the human heart. • Though as sculptor, he expressed the character of flesh more properly • than all who went before or came after him, yet he never submitted to • copy an individual, Julio the Second only excepted ; and in him he re• presented the reigning passion rather than the man. In painting, he o contented himself with a negative colour ; and, as the painter of man• kind, rejected all meretricious ornament. The fabric of St. Peter, scato`tered into infinity of jarring parts by Bramante and his successors, he 6 concentrated ; suspended the cupola; and to the most complex gave o the air of the most simple of edifices. Such, take him all in all, was o M. Angelo, the salt of art: sometimes he, no doubt, had his moments o. of dereliction, deviated into manner, or perplexed the grandeur of his
forms with futile and ostentatious anatomy; both met with armies of copyists, and it has been his fate to have been censured for their folly.' To this estimate of his professional greatness, we add the