PAINTING IN ITALY, FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE RENAISSANCE TO THE PRESENT CENTURY.

Michael Angelo’s diligence was great; he not only studied sculpture, but he found time to copy some of the fine old frescoes in the Church of the Carmine. He gave great attention to the study of anatomy, and he was known throughout the city for his talents, and for his pride and bad temper. He held himself aloof from his fellow-pupils, and one day, in a quarrel with Piètro Torrigiano, the latter gave Angelo a blow and crushed his nose so badly that he was disfigured for life. Torrigiano was banished for this offence and went to England; he ended his life in a Spanish prison.

In the spring of 1492 Lorenzo de Medici died. Michael Angelo was deeply grieved at the loss of his best friend; he left the Medici palace, and opened a studio in his father’s house, where he worked diligently for two years, making a statue of Hercules and two madonnas. After two years there came a great snow-storm, and Piero de Medici sent for the artist to make a snow statue in his court-yard. He also invited Michael Angelo to live again in the palace, and the invitation was accepted; but all was so changed there that he embraced the first opportunity to leave, and during a political disturbance fled from the city with two friends, and made his way to Venice. There he met the noble Aldovrandi of Bologna, who invited the sculptor to his home, where he remained about a year, and then returned to his studio in Florence.

Soon after this he made a beautiful, sleeping Cupid, and when the young Lorenzo de Medici saw it he advised Michael Angelo to bury it in the ground for a season, and thus make it look like an antique marble; after this was done, Lorenzo sent it to Rome and sold it to the Cardinal Riario, and gave the sculptor thirty ducats. In some way the truth of the matter reached the ears of the Cardinal, who sent his agent to Florence to find the artist. When Michael Angelo heard that two hundred ducats had been paid for his Cupid, he knew that he had been deceived. The Cardinal’s agent invited him to go to Rome, and he gladly went. The oldest existing writing from the hand of Michael Angelo is the letter which he wrote to Lorenzo to inform him of his arrival in Rome. He was then twenty-one years old, and spoke with joy of all the beautiful things he had seen.

Not long after he reached Rome he made the statue of the “Drunken Bacchus,” now in the Uffizi Gallery, and then the Virgin Mary sitting near the place of the cross and holding the body of the dead Christ. The art-term for this subject is “La Pietà.” From the time that Michael Angelo made this beautiful work he was the first sculptor of the world, though he was but twenty-four years old. The Pietà was placed in St. Peter’s Church, where it still remains. The next year he returned to Florence. He was occupied with both painting and sculpture, and was soon employed on his “David,” one of his greatest works. This statue weighed eighteen thousand pounds, and its removal from the studio in which it was made to the place where it was to stand, next the gate of the Palazzo Vecchio, was a difficult undertaking. It was at last put in place on May 18, 1504; there it remained until a few years ago, when, on account of its crumbling from the effect of the weather, it was removed to the Academy of Fine Arts by means of a railroad built for the purpose.

About this time a rivalry sprang up between Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. They were very unlike in their characters and mode of life. Michael Angelo was bitter, ironical, and liked to be alone; Leonardo loved to be gay and to see the world; Michael Angelo lived so that when he was old he said, “Rich as I am, I have always lived like a poor man;” Leonardo enjoyed luxury, and kept a fine house, with horses and servants. They had entered into a competition which was likely to result in serious trouble, when Pope Julius II. summoned Michael Angelo to Rome. The Pope gave him an order to build him a splendid tomb; but the enemies of the sculptor made trouble for him, and one morning he was refused admission to the Pope’s palace. He then left Rome, sending this letter to the Pope: “Most Holy Father, I was this morning driven from the palace by the order of your Holiness. If you require me in future you can seek me elsewhere than at Rome.”

Then he went to Florence, and the Pope sent for him again and again; but he did not go. Meantime he finished his design, and received the commission that he and Leonardo had striven for, which was to decorate the hall of the Grand Council with pictures. At last, in 1506, the Pope was in Bologna, and again sent for Michael Angelo. He went, and was forgiven for his offence, and received an order for a colossal statue of the Pope in bronze. When this was finished in 1508, and put before the Church of St. Petronio, Michael Angelo returned to Florence. He had not made friends in Bologna; his forbidding manner did not encourage others to associate with him; but we now know from his letters that he had great trials. His family was poor, and all relied on him; indeed, his life was full of care and sadness.