The point that connects him with Botticelli is the romantic treatment of his classical mythology, best exemplified in his pictures of the tale of Perseus and Andromeda.16 Piero was by nature and employment a decorative painter; the construction of cars for pageants, and the adornment of dwelling rooms and marriage chests, affected his whole style, rendering it less independent and more quaint than that of Botticelli. Landscape occupies the main part of his compositions, made up by a strange amalgam of the most eccentric details—rocks toppling over blue bays, sea-caverns and fantastic mountain ranges. Groups of little figures upon these spaces tell the story, and the best invention of the artist is lavished on the form of monstrous creatures like the dragon slain by Perseus. There is no attempt to treat the classic subject in a classic spirit: to do that and to fail in doing it, remained for Cellini....17 The same criticism applies to Piero's picture of the murdered Procris watched by a Satyr of the woodland.18 In creating his Satyr the painter has not had recourse to any antique bas-relief, but has imagined for himself a being half human, half bestial, and yet wholly real; nor has he portrayed in Procris a nymph of Greek form, but a girl of Florence. The strange animals and gaudy flowers introduced into the landscape background further remove the subject from the sphere of classic treatment. Florentine realism and quaint fancy being thus curiously blended, the artistic result may be profitably studied for the light it throws upon the so-called Paganism of the earlier Renaissance. Fancy at that moment was more free than when superior knowledge of antiquity had created a demand for reproductive art, and when the painters thought less of the meaning of the fable for themselves than of its capability of being used as a machine for the display of erudition.

The Renaissance in Italy (London, 1877).


16 Uffizi Gallery.

17 See the bas-relief upon the pedestal of his 'Perseus' in the Loggia de' Lanzi.

18 In the National Gallery.