Life of Michelagnolo Buonarroti Painter, Sculptor, and Architect of Florence (Part Three of Three)

Life of Michelagnolo Buonarroti Painter, Sculptor, and Architect of Florence (Part Three of Three)
Michelangelo’s marble “Brutus,” statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on Nov. 6, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
Giorgio Vasari
This article contains the original’s spellings. Continued from part two

The Florentine colony had often talked among themselves of giving a good beginning to the Church of S. Giovanni in the Strada Giulia. Finally, all the heads of the richest houses having assembled together, they each promised to contribute in due proportion according to their means towards that fabric, insomuch that they contrived to collect a good sum of money; and then it was discussed among them whether it were better to follow the old lines or to have something new and finer. It was determined that something new should be erected upon the old foundations, and finally they elected three men to have the charge of the fabric, who were Francesco Bandini, Uberto Ubaldini, and Tommaso de' Bardi; and these requested Michelagnolo for a design, recommending themselves to him on the ground that it was a disgrace to their colony to have thrown away so much money without any kind of profit, and that, if his genius did not avail to finish the work, they had no other resource. He promised them to do it, with as much lovingness as he had ever shown in any work in the past, because in this his old age he readily gave his attention to sacred things, such as might redound to the honour of God, and also from affection for his fellow-Florentines, whom he loved always. Michelagnolo had with him at this conference the Florentine sculptor Tiberio Calcagni, a young man very ardent to learn art, who, after going to Rome, had turned his mind to the study of architecture. Loving him, Michelagnolo had given him to finish, as has been related, the Pietà in marble that he had broken, and, in addition, a head of Brutus in marble with the breast, considerably larger than life, to the end that he might finish it. Of this the head alone was carved, with certain most minute gradines, and he had taken it from a portrait of Brutus cut in a very ancient cornelian that was in the possession of Signor Giuliano Cesarino; which Michelagnolo was doing for Cardinal Ridolfi at the entreaty of Messer Donato Giannotti, his very dear friend, and it is a rare work. Michelagnolo, then, in matters of architecture, not being able by reason of old age to draw any more or to make accurate lines, was making use of Tiberio, because he was very gentle and discreet; and thus, desiring to avail himself of him in such an undertaking, he laid on him the charge of tracing the plan of the site of the above-named church. That plan having been traced and carried straightway to Michelagnolo, at a time when it was not thought that he was doing anything, he gave them to understand through Tiberio that he had carried out their wishes, and finally showed them five most beautiful ground-plans of temples; which having seen, they marvelled. He said to them that they should choose one that pleased them, and they, not wishing to do it, left the matter to his judgment, but he insisted that they should decide of their own free will; wherefore they all with one accord chose the richest. This having been adopted, Michelagnolo said to them that if they carried such a design to completion, neither the Greeks nor the Romans ever in their times executed such a work; words that neither before nor afterwards ever issued from the mouth of Michelagnolo, for he was very modest. Finally it was agreed that the direction should be left entirely to Michelagnolo, and that the labour of executing that work should fall to Tiberio; with all which they were content, Buonarroti promising them that Tiberio would serve them excellently well. And so, having given the ground-plan to Tiberio to be drawn accurately and with correct measurements, he drew for him the profiles both within and without, and bade him make a model of clay, teaching him the way to execute it so that it might stand firm. In ten days Tiberio executed a model of eight palms, which much pleased the whole Florentine colony, so that afterwards they caused to be made from it a model of wood, which is now in the residence of the Consuls of that colony; a thing as rare in its beauty, richness, and great variety, as any temple that has ever been seen. A beginning was made with the building, and five thousand crowns were spent; but the funds for the fabric failed, and so it was abandoned, at which Michelagnolo felt very great displeasure. He obtained for Tiberio the commission to finish under his direction, at S. Maria Maggiore, a chapel begun for Cardinal Santa Fiore; but it was left unfinished, on account of the death of the Cardinal, of Michelagnolo, and of Tiberio himself, the death of which young man was a very great loss.

BRUTUS<br/>(After Michelagnolo. Florence: Museo Nazionale) Brogi
(After Michelagnolo. Florence: Museo Nazionale) Brogi

Michelagnolo had been seventeen years in the fabric of S. Pietro, and several times the deputies had tried to remove him from that position, but they had not succeeded, and they were seeking to oppose him in every matter now with one vexatious pretext and now with another, hoping that out of weariness, being now so old that he could do no more, he would retire before them. It happened in those days that Cesare da Castel Durante, who had been the overseer, died, and Michelagnolo, to the end that the fabric might not suffer, sent there Luigi Gaeta, who was too young but very competent, until he should find a man after his desire. The deputies (some of whom had many times made efforts to place there Nanni di Baccio Bigio, who was always urging them and promising great things), in order to be able to disturb the affairs of the fabric at their pleasure, sent Luigi Gaeta away, which having heard, Michelagnolo, as in anger, would no longer show himself at the fabric; whereupon they began to give out that he could do no more, that it was necessary to give him a substitute, and that he himself had said that he did not wish to be embroiled any longer with S. Pietro. All this came to the ears of Michelagnolo, who sent Daniello Ricciarelli of Volterra to Bishop Ferratino, one of the superintendents, who had said to the Cardinal of Carpi that Michelagnolo had told one of his servants that he did not wish to be mixed up with the fabric any longer; and Daniello said that this was by no means Michelagnolo’s desire. Ferratino complained that Michelagnolo would not make his conception known, adding that it would be well for him to provide a substitute, and that he would have gladly accepted Daniello; and with this Michelagnolo appeared to be content. Thereupon Ferratino, having had the deputies informed in the name of Michelagnolo that they now had a substitute, presented not Daniello, but in his place Nanni di Baccio Bigio, who came in and was accepted by the superintendents. Before very long he gave orders to make a scaffolding of wood from the side of the Pope’s stables, where the hill is, to rise above the great recess that is turned towards that side, and caused some stout beams of fir to be cut, saying that too many ropes were consumed in drawing up the materials, and that it was better to raise them by his method. Which having heard, Michelagnolo went straight to the Pope, who was on the Piazza di Campidoglio, and made so much noise that his Holiness made him go at once into a room, where he said: “Holy Father, there has been appointed as my substitute by the deputies a man of whom I know nothing; but if they are convinced, and also your Holiness, that I am no longer the proper man, I will return to rest in Florence, where I will enjoy the favours of that great Duke who has so long desired me, and will finish my life in my own house; I therefore beg your gracious leave.” The Pope was vexed at this, and, consoling him with kind words, ordained that he should come to speak with him on the following day at the Araceli. There, having caused the deputies of the fabric to be assembled together, he desired to be informed of the reasons of what had happened: whereupon their answer was that the fabric was going to ruin, and that errors were being made in it. Which having heard not to be the truth, the Pope commanded Signor Gabrio Scerbellone that he should go to see the fabric for himself, and that Nanni, who was making these assertions, should show it to him. This was carried out, and Signor Gabrio found that the whole story was a malicious slander, and not the truth; wherefore Nanni was dismissed from that fabric with no very flattering words in the presence of many lords, being also reproached that by his fault the bridge of Santa Maria fell into ruin, and that at Ancona, seeking to do great things at little cost in the matter of cleaning out the harbour, he filled it up more in one day than the sea had done in ten years. Such was the end of Nanni in the fabric of S. Pietro. For that work Michelagnolo for seventeen years attended constantly to nothing but to establishing it securely with directions, doubting on account of those envious persecutions lest it might come to be changed after his death; so that at the present day it is strong enough to allow the vaulting to be raised with perfect security. Thus it has been seen that God, who is the protector of the good, defended him as long as he lived, and worked for the benefit of the fabric and for the defence of the master until his death. Moreover, Pius IV, living after him, commanded the superintendents of the fabric that nothing of what Michelagnolo had directed should be changed; and with even greater authority his successor, Pius V, caused it to be carried out, who, lest disorder should arise, insisted that the designs made by Michelagnolo should be carried into execution with the utmost fidelity, so that, when the architects Pirro Ligorio and Jacopo Vignuola were in charge of it, and Pirro wished presumptuously to disturb and alter those directions, he was removed with little honour from that fabric, and only Vignuola remained. Finally, that Pontiff being full of zeal no less for the honour of the fabric of S. Pietro than for the Christian religion, in the year 1565, when Vasari went to kiss the feet of his Holiness, and in the year 1566, when he was again summoned, nothing was discussed save the means to ensure the observing of the designs left by Michelagnolo; and his Holiness, in order to obviate all chance of disorder, commanded Vasari that he should go with Messer Guglielmo Sangalletti, the private treasurer of his Holiness, to seek out Bishop Ferratino, the head of the superintendents of S. Pietro, with orders from the Pontiff that he should listen to all the suggestions and records of importance that Vasari might impart to him, to the end that no words of any malignant and presumptuous person might ever cause to be disturbed any line or order left by the excellent genius of Michelagnolo of happy memory; and at that interview was present Messer Giovan Battista Altoviti, who was much the friend of Vasari and of these arts. And Ferratino, having heard a discourse that Vasari made to him, readily accepted every record, and promised to observe and to cause to be observed with the utmost fidelity in that fabric every order and design that Michelagnolo had left for that purpose, and, in addition, to be the protector, defender, and preserver of the labours of that great man.

But to return to Michelagnolo: I must relate that about a year before his death, Vasari secretly prevailed upon Duke Cosimo de' Medici to persuade the Pope by means of Messer Averardo Serristori, his Ambassador, that, since Michelagnolo was much reduced, a diligent watch should be kept on those who were about him to take care of him, or who visited him at his house, and that, in the event of some sudden accident happening to him, such as might well happen to an old man, he should make arrangements for his property, designs, cartoons, models, money, and all his other possessions at the time of his death, to be set down in an inventory and placed in security, for the sake of the fabric of S. Pietro, so that, if there were things pertaining to that fabric, and also to the sacristy, library, and façade of S. Lorenzo, they might not be taken away, as is often wont to happen; and in the end, all this being duly carried out, such diligence had its reward. Leonardo, the nephew of Michelagnolo, was desirous to go during the coming Lent to Rome, as one who guessed that he was now come to the end of his life; and at this Michelagnolo was content. When, therefore, he fell sick of a slow fever, he straightway caused Daniello to write to Leonardo that he should come; but the illness grew worse, although Messer Federigo Donati, his physician, and his other attendants were about him, and with perfect consciousness he made his will in three sentences, leaving his soul in the hands of God, his body to the earth, and his substance to his nearest relatives, and enjoining on his friends that, at his passing from this life, they should recall to him the agony of Jesus Christ. And so at the twenty-third hour of the seventeenth day of February, in the year 1563 (after the Florentine reckoning, which according to the Roman would be 1564), he breathed his last, to go to a better life.

Michelagnolo was much inclined to the labours of art, seeing that everything, however difficult, succeeded with him, he having had from nature a genius very apt and ardent in these most noble arts of design. Moreover, in order to be entirely perfect, innumerable times he made anatomical studies, dissecting men’s bodies in order to see the principles of their construction and the concatenation of the bones, muscles, veins, and nerves, the various movements and all the postures of the human body; and not of men only, but also of animals, and particularly of horses, which last he much delighted to keep. Of all these he desired to learn the principles and laws in so far as touched his art, and this knowledge he so demonstrated in the works that fell to him to handle, that those who attend to no other study than this do not know more. He so executed his works, whether with the brush or with the chisel, that they are almost inimitable, and he gave to his labours, as has been said, such art and grace, and a loveliness of such a kind, that (be it said without offence to any) he surpassed and vanquished the ancients; having been able to wrest things out of the greatest difficulties with such facility, that they do not appear wrought with effort, although whoever draws his works after him finds enough in imitating them.

The genius of Michelagnolo was recognized in his lifetime, and not, as happens to many, after death, for it has been seen that Julius II, Leo X, Clement VII, Paul III, Julius III, Paul IV, and Pius IV, all supreme Pontiffs, always wished to have him near them, and also, as is known, Suleiman, Emperor of the Turks, Francis of Valois, King of France, the Emperor Charles V, the Signoria of Venice, and finally, as has been related, Duke Cosimo de' Medici; all offering him honourable salaries, for no other reason but to avail themselves of his great genius. This does not happen save to men of great worth, such as he was; and it is evident and well known that all these three arts were so perfected in him, that it is not found that among persons ancient or modern, in all the many years that the sun has been whirling round, God has granted this to any other but Michelagnolo. He had imagination of such a kind, and so perfect, and the things conceived by him in idea were such, that often, through not being able to express with the hands conceptions so terrible and grand, he abandoned his works—nay, destroyed many of them; and I know that a little before he died he burned a great number of designs, sketches, and cartoons made with his own hand, to the end that no one might see the labours endured by him and his methods of trying his genius, and that he might not appear less than perfect. Of such I have some by his hand, found in Florence, and placed in my book of drawings; from which, although the greatness of that brain is seen in them, it is evident that when he wished to bring forth Minerva from the head of Jove, he had to use Vulcan’s hammer. Thus he used to make his figures in the proportion of nine, ten, and even twelve heads, seeking nought else but that in putting them all together there should be a certain harmony of grace in the whole, which nature does not present; saying that it was necessary to have the compasses in the eyes and not in the hand, because the hands work and the eye judges; which method he used also in architecture.

No one should think it strange that Michelagnolo delighted in solitude, he having been one who was enamoured of his art, which claims a man, with all his thoughts, for herself alone; moreover, it is necessary that he who wishes to attend to her studies should shun society, and, while attending to the considerations of art, he is never alone or without thoughts. And those who attributed it to caprice and eccentricity are wrong, because he who wishes to work well must withdraw himself from all cares and vexations, since art demands contemplation, solitude, and ease of life, and will not suffer the mind to wander. For all this, he prized the friendship of many great persons and of learned and ingenious men, at convenient times; and these he maintained. Thus the great Cardinal Ippolito de‘ Medici loved him greatly, and, having heard that a Turkish horse that he possessed pleased Michelagnolo because of its beauty, it was sent as a present to him by the liberality of that lord, with ten mules laden with fodder, and a serving-man to attend to it; and Michelagnolo accepted it willingly. The illustrious Cardinal Pole was much his friend, Michelagnolo being enamoured of his goodness and his talents; also Cardinal Farnese, and Santa Croce, which latter afterwards became Pope Marcellus, Cardinal Ridolfi, Cardinal Maffeo, Monsignor Bembo, Carpi, and many other Cardinals, Bishops, and Prelates, whom it is not necessary to name. Others were Monsignor Claudio Tolomei, the Magnificent Messer Ottaviano de’ Medici, his gossip, whose son he held at baptism, and Messer Bindo Altoviti, to whom he presented that cartoon of the Chapel in which Noah, drunk with wine, is derided by one of his sons, and his nakedness is covered by the two others; M. Lorenzo Ridolfi, M. Annibale Caro, and M. Giovan Francesco Lottini of Volterra. But infinitely more than any of the others he loved M. Tommaso de' Cavalieri, a Roman gentleman, for whom, being a young man and much inclined to these arts, he made, to the end that he might learn to draw, many most superb drawings of divinely beautiful heads, designed in black and red chalk; and then he drew for him a Ganymede rapt to Heaven by Jove’s Eagle, a Tityus with the Vulture devouring his heart, the Chariot of the Sun falling with Phaëthon into the Po, and a Bacchanal of children, which are all in themselves most rare things, and drawings the like of which have never been seen. Michelagnolo made a life-size portrait of Messer Tommaso in a cartoon, and neither before nor afterwards did he take the portrait of anyone, because he abhorred executing a resemblance to the living subject, unless it were of extraordinary beauty. These drawings, on account of the great delight that M. Tommaso took in them, were the reason that he afterwards obtained a good number, miraculous things, which Michelagnolo once drew for Fra Sebastiano Viniziano, who carried them into execution; and in truth he rightly treasures them as reliques, and he has courteously given craftsmen access to them. Of a truth Michelagnolo always placed his affections with persons noble, deserving, and worthy of them, for he had true judgment and taste in all things.

UNFINISHED FIGURE (After Michelagnolo. Florence: Museo Nazionale) Brogi
UNFINISHED FIGURE (After Michelagnolo. Florence: Museo Nazionale) Brogi

M. Tommaso afterwards caused Michelagnolo to make many designs for friends, such as that of the picture for Cardinal di Cesis, wherein is Our Lady receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, a novel thing, which was afterwards executed in colours by Marcello Mantovano and placed in the marble chapel which that Cardinal caused to be built in the Church of the Pace at Rome. So, also, with another Annunciation coloured likewise by the hand of Marcello in a picture in the Church of S. Giovanni Laterano, the design of which belongs to Duke Cosimo de' Medici, having been presented after Michelagnolo’s death by his nephew Leonardo Buonarroti to his Excellency, who cherishes it as a jewel, together with a Christ praying in the Garden and many other designs, sketches, and cartoons by the hand of Michelagnolo, and likewise the statue of Victory with a captive beneath, five braccia in height, and four captives in the rough which serve to teach us how to carve figures from the marble by a method secure from any chance of spoiling the stone; which method is as follows. You take a figure in wax or some other solid material, and lay it horizontally in a vessel of water, which water being by its nature flat and level at the surface, as you raise the said figure little by little from the level, so it comes about that the more salient parts are revealed, while the lower parts—those, namely, on the under side of the figure—remain hidden, until in the end it all comes into view. In the same manner must figures be carved out of marble with the chisel, first laying bare the more salient parts, and then little by little the lower parts; and this method may be seen to have been followed by Michelagnolo in the above-mentioned captives, which his Excellency wishes to be used as exemplars for his Academicians.

Michelagnolo loved his fellow-craftsmen, and held intercourse with them, as with Jacopo Sansovino, Rosso, Pontormo, Daniello da Volterra, and Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo, to which last he showed innumerable kindnesses; and he was the reason that Giorgio gave his attention to architecture, intending to make use of him some day, and he readily conferred and discussed matters of art with him. Those who say that he was not willing to teach are wrong, because he was always willing with his intimates and with anyone who asked him for counsel; and I have been present on many such occasions, but of these, out of consideration, I say nothing, not wishing to reveal the deficiencies of others. It may be urged that he had bad fortune with those who lived with him in his house, which was because he hit upon natures little able to imitate him. Thus, Pietro Urbano of Pistoia, his pupil, was a man of parts, but would never exert himself. Antonio Mini was willing, but had no aptitude of brain; and when the wax is hard it does not readily take an impression. Ascanio dalla Ripa Transone took great pains, but of this no fruits were ever seen either in designs or in finished works, and he toiled several years over a picture for which Michelagnolo had given him a cartoon. In the end, all the good expectation in which he was held vanished in smoke; and I remember that Michelagnolo would be seized with compassion for his toil, and would assist him with his own hand, but this profited him little. If he had found a nature after his heart, as he told me several times, in spite of his age he would often have made anatomical studies, and would have written upon them, for the benefit of his fellow-craftsmen; for he was disappointed by several. But he did not trust himself, through not being able to express himself in writing as he would have liked, because he was not practised in diction, although in the prose of his letters he explained his conceptions very well in a few words. He much delighted in readings of the poets in the vulgar tongue, and particularly of Dante, whom he much admired, imitating him in his conceptions and inventions; and so with Petrarca, having delighted to make madrigals and sonnets of great weight, upon which commentaries have been written. M. Benedetto Varchi gave a lecture in the Florentine Academy upon that sonnet which begins—

Non ha l‘ottimo artista alcun concetto Ch’un marmo solo in se non circonscriva.

Michelagnolo sent a vast number by his own hand—receiving answers in rhyme and in prose—to the most illustrious Marchioness of Pescara, of whose virtues he was enamoured, and she likewise of his; and she went many times to Rome from Viterbo to visit him, and Michelagnolo designed for her a Dead Christ in the lap of Our Lady, with two little Angels, all most admirable, and a Christ fixed on the Cross, who, with the head uplifted, is recommending His Spirit to the Father, a divine work; and also a Christ with the Woman of Samaria at the well. He much delighted in the sacred Scriptures, like the excellent Christian that he was; and he held in great veneration the works written by Fra Girolamo Savonarola, because he had heard the voice of that friar in the pulpit. He greatly loved human beauty for the sake of imitation in art, being able to select from the beautiful the most beautiful, for without this imitation no perfect work can be done; but not with lascivious and disgraceful thoughts, as he proved by his way of life, which was very frugal. Thus, when he was young, all intent on his work, he contented himself with a little bread and wine, and this he continued when old until the time when he was painting the Judgment in the Chapel, taking his refreshment in the evening when he had finished the day’s work, but always very frugally. And, although he was rich, he lived like a poor man, nor did any friend ever eat at his table, or rarely; and he would not accept presents from anyone, because it appeared to him that if anyone gave him something, he would be bound to him for ever. This sober life kept him very active and in want of very little sleep, and often during the night, not being able to sleep, he would rise to labour with the chisel; having made a cap of thick paper, and over the centre of his head he kept a lighted candle, which in this way threw light over where he was working without encumbering his hands. Vasari, who had seen the cap several times, reflecting that he did not use wax, but candles of pure goat’s tallow, which are excellent, sent him four bundles of these, which weighed forty libbre. And his servant with all courtesy carried them to him at the second hour of the evening, and presented them to him; but Michelagnolo refused them, declaring that he did not want them; and then the servant said: “They have broken my arms on the way between the bridge and here, and I shall not carry them back to the house. Now here in front of your door there is a solid heap of mud; they will stand in it beautifully, and I will set them all alight.” Michelagnolo said to him: “Put them down here, for I will not have you playing pranks at my door.”

He told me that often in his youth he slept in his clothes, being weary with labour and not caring to take them off only to have to put them on again later. There are some who have taxed him with being avaricious, but they are mistaken, for both with works of art and with his substance he proved the contrary. Of works of art, as has been seen and related, he presented to M. Tommaso de' Cavalieri, to Messer Bindo, and to Fra Sebastiano, designs of considerable value; and to Antonio Mini, his pupil, all his designs, all his cartoons, and the picture of the Leda, and all the models in clay and wax that he ever made, which, as has been related, were all left in France. To Gherardo Perini, a Florentine gentleman who was very much his friend, he gave three sheets with some divine heads in black chalk, which since Perini’s death have come into the hands of the most illustrious Don Francesco, Prince of Florence, who treasures them as jewels, as indeed they are; for Bartolommeo Bettini he made a cartoon, which he presented to him, of a Venus with a Cupid that is kissing her, a divine thing, which is now in the possession of Bettini’s heirs in Florence, and for the Marchese del Vasto he made a cartoon of a “Noli me Tangere,” a rare thing; and these two last were painted excellently well by Pontormo, as has been related. He presented the two Captives to Signor Ruberto Strozzi, and the Pietà in marble, which he broke, to Antonio, his servant, and to Francesco Bandini. I know not, therefore, how this man can be taxed with avarice, he having given away so many things for which he could have obtained thousands of crowns. What better proof can I give than this, that I know from personal experience that he made many designs and went to see many pictures and buildings, without demanding any payment? But let us come to the money earned by him by the sweat of his brow, not from revenues, not from traffickings, but from his own study and labour. Can he be called avaricious who succoured many poor persons, as he did, and secretly married off a good number of girls, and enriched those who served him and assisted him in his works, as with his servant Urbino, whom he made a very rich man? This Urbino was his man of all work, and had served him a long time; and Michelagnolo said to him: “If I die, what will you do?” And he answered: “I will serve another master.” “You poor creature,” said Michelagnolo, “I will save you from such misery”; and presented two thousand crowns to him in one sum, an act such as is generally left to Cæsars and Pontiffs. To his nephew, moreover, he gave three and four thousand crowns at a time, and at the end he left him ten thousand crowns, besides the property in Rome.

Michelagnolo was a man of tenacious and profound memory, so that, on seeing the works of others only once, he remembered them perfectly, and could avail himself of them in such a manner, that scarcely anyone has ever noticed it; nor did he ever do anything that resembled another thing by his hand, because he remembered everything that he had done. In his youth, being once with his painter-friends, they played for a supper for him who should make a figure most completely wanting in design and clumsy, after the likeness of the puppet-figures which those make who know nothing, scrawling upon walls; and in this he availed himself of his memory, for he remembered having seen one of those absurdities on a wall, and drew it exactly as if he had had it before him, and thus surpassed all those painters—a thing difficult for a man so steeped in design, and accustomed to choice works, to come out of with credit. He was full of disdain, and rightly, against anyone who did him an injury, but he was never seen to run to take revenge; nay, rather, he was most patient, modest in all his ways, very prudent and wise in his speech, with answers full of weight, and at times sayings most ingenious, amusing, and acute. He said many things that have been written down by me, of which I shall include only a few, because it would take too long to give them all. A friend having spoken to him of death, saying that it must grieve him much, because he had lived in continual labour in matters of art, and had never had any repose, he answered that all that was nothing, because, if life is a pleasure to us, death, being likewise by the hand of one and the same master, should not displease us. To a citizen who found him by Orsanmichele in Florence, where he had stopped to gaze at Donato’s statue of S. Mark, and who asked him what he thought of that figure, Michelagnolo answered that he had never seen a figure that had more of the air of a good man than that one, and that, if S. Mark was like that, one could give credence to what he had written. Being shown the drawing of a boy then beginning to learn to draw, who was recommended to him, some persons excusing him because it was not long since he had applied himself to art, he replied: “That is evident.” He said a similar thing to a painter who had painted a Pietà, and had not acquitted himself well: “It is indeed a pitiful thing to see.” Having heard that Sebastiano Viniziano had to paint a friar in the chapel of S. Pietro a Montorio, he said that this would spoil the work for him; and being asked why he said that, he answered: “Since they have spoiled the world, which is so large, it would not be surprising if they were to spoil such a small thing as that chapel.” A painter had executed a work with very great pains, toiling over it a long time; but when it was given to view he had made a considerable profit. Michelagnolo was asked what he thought of the craftsman, and he answered: “As long as this man strives to be rich, he will always remain a poor creature.” One of his friends who was a churchman, and used formerly to say Mass, having arrived in Rome all covered with points and silk, saluted Michelagnolo; but he pretended not to see him, so that the friend was forced to declare his name to him. Michelagnolo expressed marvel that he should be in that habit, and then added, as it were to congratulate him: “Oh, but you are magnificent! If you were as fine within as I see you to be without, it would be well with your soul.” The same man had recommended a friend to Michelagnolo (who had given him a statue to execute), praying him that he should have something more given to him, which Michelagnolo graciously did; but the envy of the friend, who had made the request to Michelagnolo only in the belief that he would not grant it, brought it about that, perceiving that the master had granted it after all, he complained of it. This matter was reported to Michelagnolo, and he answered that he did not like men made like sewers, using a metaphor from architecture, and meaning that it is difficult to have dealings with men who have two mouths. Being asked by a friend what he thought of one who had counterfeited in marble some of the most celebrated antique figures, and boasted that in his imitations he had surpassed the antiques by a great measure, Michelagnolo replied: “He who goes behind others can never go in front of them, and he who is not able to work well for himself cannot make good use of the works of others.” A certain painter, I know not who, had executed a work wherein was an ox, which looked better than any other part; and Michelagnolo, being asked why the painter had made the ox more lifelike than the rest, said: “Any painter can make a good portrait of himself.” Passing by S. Giovanni in Florence, he was asked his opinion of those doors, and he answered: “They are so beautiful that they would do well at the gates of Paradise.” While serving a Prince who kept changing plans every day, and would never stand firm, Michelagnolo said to a friend: “This lord has a brain like a weather-cock, which turns round with every wind that blows on it.” He went to see a work of sculpture which was about to be sent out because it was finished, and the sculptor was taking much trouble to arrange the lights from the windows, to the end that it might show up well; whereupon Michelagnolo said to him: “Do not trouble yourself; the important thing will be the light of the Piazza”; meaning to infer that when works are in public places, the people must judge whether they are good or bad. There was a great Prince in Rome who had a notion to play the architect, and he had caused certain niches to be built in which to place figures, each three squares high, with a ring at the top; and having tried to place various statues within these niches, which did not turn out well, he asked Michelagnolo what he should place in them, and he answered: “Hang bunches of eels from those rings.” There was appointed to the government of the fabric of S. Pietro a gentleman who professed to understand Vitruvius, and to be a critic of the work done. Michelagnolo was told, “You have obtained for the fabric one who has a great intelligence”; and he answered, “That is true, but he has a bad judgment.” A painter had executed a scene, and had copied many things from various other works, both drawings and pictures, nor was there anything in that work that was not copied. It was shown to Michelagnolo, who, having seen it, was asked by a very dear friend what he thought of it, and he replied: “He has done well, but I know not what this scene will do on the day of Judgment, when all bodies shall recover their members, for there will be nothing left of it”—a warning to those who practise art, that they should make a habit of working by themselves. Passing through Modena, he saw many beautiful figures by the hand of Maestro Antonio Bigarino, a sculptor of Modena, made of terra-cotta and coloured in imitation of marble, which appeared to him to be excellent works; and, since that sculptor did not know how to work marble, Michelagnolo said: “If this clay were to become marble, woe to the ancient statues.” Michelagnolo was told that he should show resentment against Nanni di Baccio Bigio, who was seeking every day to compete with him; but he answered: “He who contends with men of no account never gains a victory.” A priest, his friend, said to him: “It is a pity that you have not taken a wife, so that you might have had many children and left them all your honourable labours.” And Michelagnolo replied: “I have only too much of a wife in this art of mine, who has always kept me in tribulation, and my children shall be the works that I may leave, which, even if they are naught, will live a while. Woe to Lorenzo di Bartoluccio Ghiberti, if he had not made the gates of S. Giovanni, for his children and grandchildren sold or squandered all that he left, but the gates are still standing.” Vasari, sent by Julius III to Michelagnolo’s house for a design at the first hour of the night, found him working at the Pietà in marble that he broke. Michelagnolo, recognizing him by the knock at the door, left his work and took a lamp with his hand by the handle; Vasari explained what he wanted, whereupon Michelagnolo sent Urbino upstairs for the design, and then they entered into another conversation. Meanwhile Vasari turned his eyes to examine a leg of the Christ at which he was working, seeking to change it; and, in order to prevent Vasari from seeing it, he let the lamp fall from his hand, and they were left in darkness. He called to Urbino to bring a light, and meanwhile came forth from the enclosure where the work was, and said: “I am so old that death often pulls me by the cloak, that I may go with him, and one day this body of mine will fall like the lamp, and the light of my life will be spent.”

For all this, he took pleasure in certain kinds of men after his taste, such as Menighella, a commonplace and clownish painter of Valdarno, who was a most diverting person. He would come at times to Michelagnolo, that he might make for him a design of S. Rocco or S. Anthony, to be painted for peasants; and Michelagnolo, who was with difficulty persuaded to work for Kings, would deign to set aside all his other work and make him simple designs suited to his manner and his wishes, as Menighella himself used to say. Among other things, Menighella persuaded him to make a model of a Crucifix, which was very beautiful; of this he made a mould, from which he formed copies in pasteboard and other materials, and these he went about selling throughout the countryside. Michelagnolo would burst out laughing at him, particularly because he used to meet with fine adventures, as with a countryman who commissioned him to paint a S. Francis, and was displeased because Menighella had made the vestment grey, whereas he would have liked it of a finer colour; whereupon Menighella painted over the Saint’s shoulders a pluvial of brocade, and so contented him.

He loved, likewise, the stone-cutter Topolino, who had a notion of being an able sculptor, but was in truth very feeble. This man spent many years in the mountains of Carrara, sending marble to Michelagnolo; nor would he ever send a boatload without adding to it three or four little figures blocked out with his own hand, at which Michelagnolo would die of laughing. Finally Topolino returned, and, having blocked out a Mercury from a piece of marble, he set himself to finish it; and one day, when there was little left to do, he desired that Michelagnolo should see it, and straitly besought him that he should tell him his opinion. “You are a madman to try to make figures, Topolino,” said Michelagnolo. “Do you not see that your Mercury is more than a third of a braccio too short between the knees and the feet, and that you have made him a dwarf and all misshapen?” “Oh, that is nothing! If there is nothing else wrong, I will put it right; leave it to me.” Michelagnolo laughed once more at his simplicity; and when he was gone, Topolino took a piece of marble, and, having cut the Mercury a quarter of a braccio below the knees, he let it into the new piece of marble and joined it neatly together, making a pair of buskins for the Mercury, the tops of which were above the joins; and so he added the length required. Then he invited Michelagnolo to come, and showed him his work once again; and the master laughed, marvelling that such simpletons, when driven by necessity, form resolutions of which able men are not capable.

While Michelagnolo was having the tomb of Julius II finished, he caused a marble-hewer to execute a terminal figure for placing in the tomb in S. Pietro in Vincola, saying to him, “Cut away this to-day,” “Level that,” “Polish here”; insomuch that, without the other noticing it, he enabled him to make a figure. Wherefore, when it was finished, the man gazed at it marvelling; and Michelagnolo said: “What do you think of it?” “I think it fine,” he answered, “and I am much obliged to you.” “Why so?” asked Michelagnolo. “Because by your means I have discovered a talent that I did not know I possessed.”

Now, to be brief, I must record that the master’s constitution was very sound, for he was lean and well knit together with nerves, and although as a boy he was delicate, and as a man he had two serious illnesses, he could always endure any fatigue and had no infirmity, save that in his old age he suffered from dysuria and from gravel, which in the end developed into the stone; wherefore for many years he was syringed by the hand of Maestro Realdo Colombo, his very dear friend, who treated him with great diligence. He was of middle stature, broad in the shoulders, but well proportioned in all the rest of the body. In his latter years he wore buskins of dogskin on the legs, next to the skin, constantly for whole months together, so that afterwards, when he sought to take them off, on drawing them off the skin often came away with them. Over the stockings he wore boots of cordwain fastened on the inside, as a protection against damp. His face was round, the brow square and spacious, with seven straight lines, and the temples projected considerably beyond the ears; which ears were somewhat on the large side, and stood out from the cheeks. The body was in proportion to the face, or rather on the large side; the nose somewhat flattened, as was said in the Life of Torrigiano, who broke it for him with his fist; the eyes rather on the small side, of the colour of horn, spotted with blueish and yellowish gleams; the eyebrows with few hairs, the lips thin, with the lower lip rather thicker and projecting a little, the chin well shaped and in proportion with the rest, the hair black, but mingled with white hairs, like the beard, which was not very long, forked, and not very thick.

Truly his coming was to the world, as I said at the beginning, an exemplar sent by God to the men of our arts, to the end that they might learn from his life the nature of noble character, and from his works what true and excellent craftsmen ought to be. And I, who have to praise God for infinite blessings, as is seldom wont to happen with men of our profession, count it among the greatest blessings that I was born at the time when Michelagnolo was alive, that I was thought worthy to have him as my master, and that he was so much my friend and intimate, as everyone knows, and as the letters written by him to me, now in my possession, bear witness; and out of love for truth, and also from the obligation that I feel to his loving kindness, I have contrived to write many things of him, and all true, which many others have not been able to do. Another blessing he used to point out to me himself: “You should thank God, Giorgio, who has caused you to serve Duke Cosimo, who, in his contentment that you should build and paint and carry into execution his conceptions and designs, has grudged no expense; and you will remember, if you consider it, that the others whose Lives you have written did not have such advantages.”

With most honourable obsequies, and with a concourse of all the craftsmen, all his friends, and all the Florentine colony, Michelagnolo was given burial in a sepulchre at S. Apostolo, in the sight of all Rome; his Holiness having intended to make him some particular memorial and tomb in S. Pietro at Rome. Leonardo, his nephew, arrived when all was over, although he travelled post. When Duke Cosimo was informed of the event, he confirmed his resolve that since he had not been able to have him and honour him alive, he would have him brought to Florence and not hesitate to honour him with all manner of pomp after death; and the body was sent secretly in a bale, under the title of merchandise, which method was adopted lest there might be a tumult in Rome, and lest perchance the body of Michelagnolo might be detained and prevented from leaving Rome for Florence. But before the body arrived, the news of the death having been heard, the principal painters, sculptors, and architects were assembled together at the summons of the Lieutenant of their Academy, and they were reminded by that Lieutenant, who at that time was the Reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini, that they were obliged by virtue of their statutes to pay due honour to the death of any of their brethren, and that, they having done this so lovingly and with such universal satisfaction in the obsequies of Fra Giovanni Agnolo Montorsoli, who had been the first to die after the creation of the Academy, they should look well to what it might be proper for them to do in honour of Buonarroti, who had been elected by an unanimous vote of the whole body of the Company as the first Academician and the head of them all. To which proposal they all replied, as men most deeply indebted and affected to the genius of so great a man, that at all costs pains should be taken to do him honour in the best and finest ways available to them. This done, in order not to have to assemble so many persons together every day, to their great inconvenience, and to the end that matters might proceed more quietly, four men were elected as heads of the obsequies and the funeral pomp that were to be held; the painters Agnolo Bronzino and Giorgio Vasari, and the sculptors Benvenuto Cellini and Bartolommeo Ammanati, all men of illustrious name and eminent ability in their arts; to the end, I say, that they might consult and determine between themselves and the Lieutenant what was to be done in each particular, and in what way, with authority and power to dispose of the whole body of the Company and Academy. This charge they accepted all the more willingly because all the members, young and old, each in his own profession, offered their services for the execution of such pictures and statues as had to be done for that funeral pomp. They then ordained that the Lieutenant, in pursuance of his office, and the Consuls, in the name of the Company and Academy, should lay the whole matter before the Lord Duke, and beseech him for all the aids and favours that might be necessary, and especially for permission to have those obsequies held in S. Lorenzo, the church of the most illustrious House of Medici; wherein are the greater part of the works by the hand of Michelagnolo that there are to be seen in Florence; and, in addition, that his Excellency should allow Messer Benedetto Varchi to compose and deliver the funeral oration, to the end that the excellent genius of Michelagnolo might be extolled by the rare eloquence of a man so great as was Varchi, who, being in the particular service of his Excellency, would not have undertaken such a charge without a word from him, although they were very certain that, as one most loving by nature and deeply affected to the memory of Michelagnolo, of himself he would never have refused. This done, and the Academicians dismissed, the above-named Lieutenant wrote to the Lord Duke a letter of this precise tenor:

“The Academy and Company of Painters and Sculptors having resolved among themselves, if it should please your most illustrious Excellency, to do honour in some sort to the memory of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, both from the general obligation due from their profession to the extraordinary genius of one who was perhaps the greatest craftsman who has ever lived, and from their particular obligation through their belonging to a common country, and also because of the great advantage that these professions have received from the perfection of his works and inventions, insomuch that they hold themselves obliged to prove their affection to his genius in whatever way they are able, they have laid this their desire before your illustrious Excellency in a letter, and have besought you, as their peculiar refuge, for a certain measure of assistance. I, entreated by them, and being, as I think, obliged because your most illustrious Excellency has been content that I should be again this year in their Company with the title of your Lieutenant, with the added reason that the proposal is a generous one and worthy of virtuous and grateful minds, and, above all, knowing how your most illustrious Excellency is the patron of talent, and as it were a haven and unique protector for ingenious persons in this age, even surpassing in this respect your forefathers, who bestowed extraordinary favours on those excellent in these professions, as, by order of the Magnificent Lorenzo, Giotto, already so long dead, received a statue in the principal church, and Fra Filippo a most beautiful tomb of marble at his expense, while many others obtained the greatest benefits and honours on various occasions; moved, I say, by all these reasons, I have taken it upon myself to recommend to your most illustrious Excellency the petition of this Academy, that they may be able to do honour to the genius of Michelagnolo, the particular nursling and pupil of the school of the Magnificent Lorenzo, which will be an extraordinary pleasure to them, a vast satisfaction to men in general, no small incitement to the professors of these arts, and to all Italy a proof of the lofty mind and overflowing goodness of your most illustrious Excellency, whom may God long preserve in happiness for the benefit of your people and the support of every talent.”

To which letter the above-named Lord Duke answered thus:

“Reverend and Well-Beloved Friend,

“The zeal that this Academy has displayed, and continues to display, to honour the memory of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, who has passed from this to a better life, has given us much consolation for the loss of a man so extraordinary; and we wish not only to satisfy them in all that they have demanded in their memorial, but also to have his remains brought to Florence, which, according as we are informed, was his own desire. All this we are writing to the aforesaid Academy, to encourage them to celebrate by every possible means the genius of that great man. May God content you in your desire.”

Of the letter, or rather, memorial, of which mention has been made above, addressed by the Academy to the Lord Duke, the tenor was as follows:

“Most Illustrious, etc.

“The Academy and the Men of the Company of Design, created by the grace and favour of your most illustrious Excellency, knowing with what solicitude and affection you caused the body of Michelagnolo Buonarroti to be brought to Florence by means of your representative in Rome, have assembled together and have unanimously determined that they shall celebrate his obsequies in the best manner in their power and knowledge. Wherefore they, knowing that your most illustrious Excellency was revered by him as much as you yourself loved him, beseech you that you should deign in your infinite goodness and liberality to grant to them, first, that they may be allowed to celebrate the said obsequies in the Church of S. Lorenzo, a church built by your ancestors, in which are so many beautiful works wrought by his hand, both in architecture and in sculpture, and near which you are minded to have erected a place that shall be as it were a nest and an abiding school of architecture, sculpture, and painting, for the above-named Academy and Company of Design. Secondly, they pray you that you should consent to grant a commission to Messer Benedetto Varchi that he shall not only compose the funeral oration, but also deliver it with his own mouth, as he has promised most freely that he would do, when besought by us, in the event of your most illustrious Excellency consenting. In the third place, they entreat and pray you that you should deign, in the same goodness and liberality of your heart, to supply them with all that may be necessary for them in celebrating the above-mentioned obsequies, over and above their own resources, which are very small. All these matters, and each singly, have been discussed and determined in the presence and with the consent of the most Magnificent and Reverend Monsignor, Messer Vincenzio Borghini, Prior of the Innocenti and Lieutenant of your most illustrious Excellency in the aforesaid Academy and Company of Design, which, etc.”

To which letter of the Academy the Duke made this reply:

“Well-Beloved Academicians,

“We are well content to give full satisfaction to your petitions, so great is the affection that we have always borne to the rare genius of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and that we still bear to all your profession; do not hesitate, therefore, to carry out all that you have proposed to do in his obsequies, for we will not fail to supply whatever you need. Meanwhile, we have written to Messer Benedetto Varchi in the matter of the oration, and to the Director of the Hospital with regard to anything more that may be necessary in this undertaking. Fare you well.


The letter to Varchi was as follows:

“Messer Benedetto, our Well-Beloved,

“The affection that we bear to the rare genius of Michelagnolo Buonarroti makes us desire that his memory should be honoured and celebrated in every possible way. It will be pleasing to us, therefore, that you for love of us shall undertake the charge of composing the oration that is to be delivered at his obsequies, according to the arrangements made by the deputies of the Academy; and still more pleasing that it should be delivered by your own lips. Fare you well.”

Messer Bernardino Grazzini, also, wrote to the above-named deputies that they could not have expected in the Duke any desire in that matter more ardent than that which he had shown, and that they might be assured of every aid and favour from his most illustrious Excellency.

While these matters were being discussed in Florence, Leonardo Buonarroti, Michelagnolo’s nephew (who, when informed of his uncle’s illness, had made his way to Rome by post, but had not found him alive), having heard from Daniello da Volterra, who had been the very familiar friend of Michelagnolo, and also from others who had been about the person of that saintly old man, that he had requested and prayed that his body should be carried to Florence, that most noble city of his birth, of which he was always a most tender lover; Leonardo, I say, with prompt and therefore good resolution, removed the body cautiously from Rome and sent it off to Florence in a bale, as if it had been a piece of merchandise. And here I must not omit to say that this final resolution of Michelagnolo’s proved a thing against the opinion of certain persons, but nevertheless very true, namely, that his absence for so many years from Florence had been caused by no other thing but the nature of the air, for the reason that experience had taught him that the air of Florence, being sharp and subtle, was very injurious to his constitution, while that of Rome, softer and more temperate, had kept him in perfect health up to his ninetieth year, with all the senses as lively and sound as they had ever been, and with such strength, for his age, that up to the last day he had never ceased to work at something.

Since, then, the coming of the bale was so sudden and so unexpected that for the time being it was not possible to do what was done afterwards, the body of Michelagnolo, on arriving in Florence, was placed with the coffin, at the desire of the deputies, on the same day that it arrived in the city (namely, on the 11th of March, which was a Saturday), in the Company of the Assumption, which is under the high-altar of S. Pietro Maggiore, beneath the steps at the back; but it was not touched in any way whatever. The next day, which was Sunday of the second week in Lent, all the painters, sculptors, and architects assembled as quietly as possible round S. Pietro, whither they had brought nothing but a pall of velvet, all bordered and embroidered in gold, which covered the coffin and the whole bier; upon which coffin was an image of Christ Crucified. Then, about the middle hour of the night, all having gathered around the body, all at once the oldest and most eminent craftsmen laid their hands on a great quantity of torches that had been carried there, and the younger men took up the bier with such eagerness, that blessed was he who could approach it and place his shoulders under it, believing as it were that in the time to come they would be able to claim the glory of having borne the remains of the greatest man that there had ever been in their arts. The sight of a certain number of persons assembled about S. Pietro had caused, as always happens in such cases, many others to stop there, and the rather as it had been trumpeted abroad that the body of Michelagnolo had arrived, and was to be carried to S. Croce. And although, as I have said, every precaution had been taken that the matter should not become known, lest the report might spread through the city, and there might flock thither such a multitude that it would not be possible to avoid a certain degree of tumult and confusion, and also because they desired that the little which they wished to do at that time should be done with more quiet than pomp, reserving the rest for a more convenient time with greater leisure; nevertheless, both the one thing and the other took a contrary course, for with regard to the multitude, the news, as has been related, passing from lip to lip, in the twinkling of an eye the church was so filled, that in the end it was with the greatest difficulty that the body was carried from the church to the sacristy, in order to take it out of the bale and then place it in the sepulchre. With regard to the question of honour, although it cannot be denied that to see in funeral pomps a great show of priests, a large quantity of wax tapers, and a great number of mourners dressed in black, is a thing of grand and magnificent appearance, it does not follow that it was not also a great thing to see thus assembled in a small company, without preparation, all those eminent men who are now in such repute, and who will be even more in the future, honouring that body with such loving and affectionate offices. And, in truth, the number of such craftsmen in Florence—and they were all there—has always been very great, for the reason that these arts have always flourished in Florence in such a manner, that I believe that it may be said without prejudice to other cities that their principal and true nest and domicile is Florence, not otherwise than Athens once was of the sciences. In addition to that number of craftsmen, there were so many citizens following them, and so many at the sides of the streets where the procession passed, that there was no place for any more; and, what is an even greater thing, there was nothing heard but praises in every man’s mouth of the merits of Michelagnolo, all saying that true genius has such force that, after all expectation of such honour and profit as can be obtained from a gifted man has failed, nevertheless, by its own nature and peculiar merits, it remains honoured and beloved. For these reasons that demonstration was more vivid in effect and more precious than any pomp of gold and trappings that could have been contrived.

The body having been carried with so beautiful a train into S. Croce, after the friars had finished the ceremonies that were customary for the dead, it was borne—not without very great difficulty, as has been related, by reason of the concourse of people—into the sacristy, where the above-named Lieutenant, who had been present in virtue of his office, thinking to do a thing pleasing to many, and also (as he afterwards confessed) desiring to see in death one whom he had not seen in life, or had seen at such an early age that he had lost all memory of him, then resolved to have the coffin opened. This done, when he and all the rest of us present thought to find the body already marred and putrefied, because Michelagnolo had been dead twenty-five days and twenty-two in the coffin, we found it so perfect in every part, and so free from any noisome odour, that we were ready to believe that it was rather at rest in a sweet and most peaceful sleep; and, besides that the features of the face were exactly as in life (except that there was something of the colour of death), it had no member that was marred or revealed any corruption, and the head and cheeks were not otherwise to the touch than as if he had passed away but a few hours before.

When the tumult of the people had abated, arrangements were made to place the body in a sepulchre in the church, beside the altar of the Cavalcanti, by the door that leads into the cloister of the chapter-house. Meanwhile the news had spread through the city, and such a multitude of young people flocked thither to see the corpse, that there was great difficulty in contriving to close the tomb; and if it had been day, instead of night, we would have been forced to leave it open many hours in order to satisfy the public. The following morning, while the painters and sculptors were commencing to make arrangements for the memorial of honour, many choice spirits, such as have always abounded in Florence, began to attach above the aforesaid sepulchre verses both Latin and in the vulgar tongue, and so it was continued for some time; but those compositions that were printed at that time were but a small part with respect to the many that were written.

Now to come to the obsequies, which were not held the day after the day of S. John, as had been intended, but were postponed until the 14th of July. The three deputies (for Benvenuto Cellini, having felt somewhat indisposed from the beginning, had never taken any part in the matter), having appointed the sculptor Zanobi Lastricati as their proveditor, resolved that they would do something ingenious and worthy of their arts rather than costly and full of pomp. And, in truth, since honour was to be paid (said those deputies and their proveditor) to such a man as Michelagnolo, and by men of the profession that he had practised, men rich rather in talents than in excess of means, that must be done not with regal pomp or superfluous vanities, but with inventions and works abounding in spirit and loveliness, such as issue from the knowledge and readiness of hand of our craftsmen; thus honouring art with art. For although, they said, we may expect from his Excellency the Lord Duke any sum of money that may be necessary, and we have already received such amounts as we have demanded, nevertheless we must hold it as certain that from us there is expected something ingenious and pleasing in invention and art, rather than rich through vast expense or grand by reason of superb appurtenances. But, notwithstanding this, it was seen in the end that the work was equal in magnificence to any that ever issued from the hands of those Academicians, and that this memorial of honour was no less truly magnificent than it was ingenious and full of fanciful and praiseworthy inventions.

Finally, then, it was arranged that in the central nave of S. Lorenzo, between the two lateral doors, of which one leads out of the church and the other into the cloister, there should be erected, as was done, a catafalque of a rectangular form, twenty-eight braccia high, eleven braccia long, and nine broad, with a figure of Fame on the summit. On the base of the catafalque, which rose two braccia from the ground, on the part looking towards the principal door of the church, there were placed two most beautiful recumbent figures of Rivers, one representing the Arno and the other the Tiber. Arno had a horn of plenty, full of flowers and fruits, signifying thereby the fruits that have come to these professions from the city of Florence, which have been of such a kind and so many that they have filled the world, and particularly Rome, with extraordinary beauty. This was demonstrated excellently well by the other River, representing, as has been said, the Tiber, in that, extending one arm, it had the hands full of flowers and fruits received from the horn of plenty of the Arno, which lay beside it, face to face; and it served also to demonstrate, by enjoying the fruits of Arno, that Michelagnolo had lived a great part of his life in Rome, and had executed there those marvels that cause amazement to the world. Arno had for a sign the Lion, and Tiber the She-Wolf, with the infants Romulus and Remus; and they were both colossal figures of extraordinary grandeur and beauty, in the likeness of marble. One, the Tiber, was by the hand of Giovanni di Benedetto of Castello, a pupil of Bandinelli, and the other by Battista di Benedetto, a pupil of Ammanati; both excellent young men of the highest promise.

From this level rose façades of five braccia and a half, with the proper cornices above and below, and also at the corners, leaving space for four pictures, one in the centre of each. In the first of these, which was on the façade where the two Rivers were, there was painted in chiaroscuro (as were also all the other pictures of this structure) the Magnificent Lorenzo de' Medici, the Elder, receiving Michelagnolo as a boy in his garden, of which there has been an account in another place, after he had seen certain specimens of his handiwork, which foreshadowed, as early flowers, the fruits that afterwards issued in abundance from the living force and grandeur of his genius. Such, then, was the story contained in that picture, which was painted by Mirabello and Girolamo del Crocifissaio, so called, who, as very dear friends and companions, undertook to do the work together. In it were animated and lively attitudes, and there could be seen the above-named Magnificent Lorenzo, portrayed from nature, graciously receiving Michelagnolo, a boy all full of reverence, into his garden, and, after an examination, handing him over to some masters who should teach him.

In the second scene, which came, continuing the same order, to face towards the lateral door that leads out of the church, was figured Pope Clement, who, contrary to the expectation of the public, which thought that his Holiness felt disdain against Michelagnolo on account of his actions in the siege of Florence, not only assures his safety and shows himself lovingly disposed towards him, but sets him to work on the new sacristy and the library of S. Lorenzo, in which places how divinely well he worked has been already told. In this picture, then, there was painted by the hand of Federigo Fiammingo, called Del Padovano, with much dexterity and great sweetness of manner, Michelagnolo showing to the Pope the ground-plan of that sacristy, and behind him were borne, partly by little Angels and partly by other figures, the models of the library and sacristy and of the statues that are there, finished, at the present day; which was all very well composed and executed with diligence.

In the third picture, which stood on the first level, like the others described above, and looked towards the high-altar, was a great Latin epitaph composed by the most learned M. Pier Vettori, the sense of which was in the Florentine speech as follows:

“The Academy of Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, with the favour and assistance of Duke Cosimo de' Medici, their head and the supreme protector of these arts, admiring the extraordinary genius of Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and seeking to acknowledge in part the benefits received from his divine works, has dedicated this memorial, born from their own hands and from all the affection of their hearts, to the excellence and genius of the greatest painter, sculptor, and architect that there has ever been.”

The Latin words were these:


This epitaph was supported by two little Angels, who, with weeping faces, and extinguishing each a torch, appeared to be lamenting that a genius so great and so rare was now spent.

Next, in the picture which came to face towards the door that leads into the cloister, was Michelagnolo making, on account of the siege of Florence, the fortifications of the hill of San Miniato, which were held to be impregnable and a marvellous work. This was by the hand of Lorenzo Sciorini, a pupil of Bronzino and a young man of excellent promise.

This lowest part, or, so to speak, the base of the whole structure, had at every corner a pedestal that projected, and upon every pedestal was a statue larger than life, which had beneath it another, as it were subjugated and vanquished, of similar size, but each constrained in a different and extravagant attitude. The first, on the right hand going towards the high-altar, was a young man, slender and the very presentment of pure spirit, and of a most lively beauty, representing Genius, with two little wings over the temples, in the guise wherein at times Mercury is painted; and beneath this young man, wrought with incredible diligence, was a marvellous figure with asses’ ears, representing Ignorance, the mortal enemy of Genius. These two statues were by the hand of Vincenzio Danti of Perugia, of whom and of his works, which are renowned among the young modern sculptors, we shall speak at greater length in another place.

Upon the next pedestal, which, being on the right hand of the approach towards the high-altar, looked towards the new sacristy, was a woman representing Christian Piety, which, being composed of religion and every other excellence, is nothing less than an aggregate of all those virtues that we have called the Theological, and of those that were named by the Gentiles the Moral; wherefore it was right that, since the genius of a Christian, adorned by most saintly character, was being celebrated by Christians, a seemly and honourable place should be given to this Piety, which is concerned with the law of God and the salvation of souls, seeing that all other ornaments of body and mind, where she is lacking, are to be held in little estimation, or rather, none. This figure, who had beneath her, prostrate and trampled under foot by her, Vice, or rather, Impiety, was by the hand of Valerio Cioli, who is a young man of ability and fine spirit, and deserves the name of a very judicious and diligent sculptor. Opposite to this, on the side towards the old sacristy, was another similar figure made with much judgment to represent Minerva, or rather, Art; for the reason that it may be said with truth that after excellence of character and life, which must always hold the first place among the good, it was Art that gave to this man not only honour and profit, but also so much glory, that he may be said to have enjoyed in his lifetime such fruits as able and illustrious men have great difficulty in wresting even after death from the grasp of Fame, by means of their finest works; and, what is more, that he so vanquished envy, that by common consent, without any contradiction, he has obtained the rank and fame of the best and highest excellence. And for this reason this figure had beneath her feet Envy, who was an old woman lean and withered, with the eyes of a viper; in short, with features that all breathed out venom and poison, besides which she was girt with serpents, and had a viper in her hand. These two statues were by the hand of a boy of very tender years, called Lazzaro Calamech of Carrara, who at the present day, although still a mere lad, has given in some works of painting and sculpture convincing proofs of a beautiful and most lively genius. By the hand of Andrea Calamech, the uncle of the above-mentioned Lazzaro, and pupil of Ammanati, were the two statues placed upon the fourth pedestal, which was opposite to the organ and looked towards the principal doors of the church. The first of these was made to represent Study, for the reason that those who exert themselves little and sluggishly can never acquire repute, as Michelagnolo did, who from his early boyhood, from fifteen to ninety years of age, as has been seen above, never ceased to labour. This statue of Study, which was well in keeping with that great man, was a bold and vigorous youth, who had at the end of the arms, just above the joint of the hands, two little wings signifying rapidity and frequency of working; and he had prostrate beneath him, as a prisoner, Idleness or Indolence, who was a sluggish and weary woman, heavy and somnolent in her whole attitude.

These four figures, disposed in the manner that has been described, made a very handsome and magnificent composition, and had all the appearance of marble, because a coat of white had been laid over the clay, which resulted in a very beautiful effect. From this level, upon which the above-named figures rested, there rose another base, likewise rectangular and about four braccia high, but smaller in length and breadth than that below by the extent of the projection and cornice-work upon which those figures rested; and on every side this had a painted compartment six braccia and a half in length and three in height. Above this rose a platform in the same manner as that below, but smaller; and upon every corner, on the projection of a socle, sat a figure of the size of life, or rather more. These were four women, who, from the instruments that they had, were easily recognized as Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Poetry; placed there for reasons that have been perceived in the narration of Michelagnolo’s Life.

Now, going from the principal door of the church towards the high-altar, in the first picture of the second range of the catafalque—namely, above the scene in which, as has been related, Lorenzo de' Medici is receiving Michelagnolo into his garden—there was painted in a most beautiful manner, to suggest Architecture, Michelagnolo in the presence of Pope Pius IV, with a model in his hand of the stupendous pile of the Cupola of S. Pietro in Rome. This scene, which was much extolled, was painted by Piero Francia, a Florentine painter, with beautiful manner and invention; and the statue, or rather, image of Architecture, which was on the left hand of this scene, was by the hand of Giovanni di Benedetto of Castello, who with so much credit to himself, as has been related, executed also the Tiber, one of the two Rivers that were on the front part of the catafalque. In the second picture, continuing to go forward on the right hand towards the lateral door that leads out of the church, was seen (to suggest Painting) Michelagnolo painting that so much but never sufficiently extolled Judgment: that Judgment, I mean, which is an exemplar in foreshortenings and all the other difficulties of art. This picture, which was executed by Michele di Ridolfo’s young men with much diligence and grace, had likewise, on the left hand (namely, at the corner looking towards the new sacristy), its appropriate image, a statue of Painting, wrought by Battista del Cavaliere, a young man no less excellent in sculpture than remarkable for his goodness, modesty, and character. In the third picture, facing towards the high-altar (in that, namely, which was above the epitaph already mentioned), there was to be seen, to suggest Sculpture, Michelagnolo speaking with a woman, who by many signs could be recognized as Sculpture; and it appeared that he was taking counsel with her. Michelagnolo had about him some of the most excellent works that he executed in sculpture; and the woman held a little tablet with these words of Boethius:


Beside that picture, which was the work of Andrea del Minga, and executed by him with beautiful invention and manner, there was on the left hand the statue of Sculpture, wrought very well by the sculptor Antonio di Gino Lorenzi. In the fourth of those four scenes, which faced towards the organ, there could be seen, to suggest Poetry, Michelagnolo all intent on writing some composition, and about him the Nine Muses, marvellous in their grace and beauty and with their distinctive garments, according as they are described by the poets, and before them Apollo with the lyre in his hand, his crown of laurel on his head, and another crown in the hand, which he made as if to place on the head of Michelagnolo. Near the gladsome and beautiful composition of this scene, painted in a very lovely manner, with most vivacious and spirited attitudes, by Giovan Maria Butteri, there was on the left hand the statue of Poetry, the work of Domenico Poggini, a man much practised not only in sculpture and in striking impressions of coins and medals with great beauty, but also in working in bronze and likewise in poetry.

Of such a kind, then, was the ornamentation of the catafalque, which so diminished from course to course that it was possible to walk round each, and it was much after the likeness of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome; although perchance, from being rectangular, it rather resembled the Septizonium of Severus, not that near the Campidoglio, which is commonly so called in error, but the true one, which is to be seen in stamp in the “Nuove Rome,” near the Baths of Antoninus. Up to this point the catafalque had three levels; where the Rivers lay was the first, the second where the pairs of figures rested, and the third where the single figures had their feet. From this last level rose a base, or rather, socle, one braccio high, and much less in length and breadth than that last level; upon the projections of that base sat the above-named single figures, and around it could be read these words:


Upon this base stood a pyramid nine braccia high, on two sides of which (namely, that which looked towards the principal door, and that which faced towards the high-altar), at the foot, were two ovals with the head of Michelagnolo portrayed from nature in relief and executed very well by Santi Buglioni. At the summit of the pyramid was a ball in due proportion with the pyramid, such as might have contained the ashes of him who was being honoured, and upon the ball was a figure of Fame, larger than life and in the likeness of marble, and in the act, as it were, of taking flight, and at the same time of causing the praises and glory of that great craftsman to resound throughout the world through a trumpet which branched into three mouths. That Fame was by the hand of Zanobi Lastricati, who, besides the labours that he had as proveditor for the whole work, desired also not to fail to show, with much honour to himself, the virtue of his hand and brain. In all, from the level of the ground to the head of the Fame, the height, as has been related, was twenty-eight braccia.

Besides the catafalque described above, the whole church was draped with black baize and serge, hung not on the columns in the centre, as is usual, but on the chapels that are all around; and there was no space between the pilasters that enclose those chapels and correspond to the columns, that had not some adornment in painting, which, making an ingenious, pleasing, and beautiful display, caused marvel and at the same time the greatest delight.

Now, to begin with one end: in the space of the first chapel that is beside the high-altar, as you go towards the old sacristy, was a picture six braccia in height and eight in length, in which, with novel and as it were poetical invention, was Michelagnolo in the centre, already come to the Elysian fields, where, on his right hand, were figures considerably larger than life of the most famous and most highly celebrated sculptors and painters of antiquity. Each of these could be recognized by some notable sign; Praxiteles by the Satyr that is in the Vigna of Pope Julius III, Apelles by the portrait of Alexander the Great, Zeuxis by a little panel on which were figured the grapes that deceived the birds, and Parrhasius with the covering counterfeited in painting over his picture; and, even as these, so the others were known by other signs. On the left hand were those who have been illustrious in these arts in our own centuries, from Cimabue to the present day. Thus Giotto could be recognized there by a little panel on which was seen the portrait of Dante as a young man, in the manner in which he may be seen in S. Croce, painted by Giotto himself; Masaccio by his portrait from life, Donatello likewise by his portrait, and also by his Zuccone from the Campanile, which was by his side, and Filippo Brunelleschi by the representation of his Cupola of S. Maria del Fiore; and there were portrayed from life, without other signs, Fra Filippo, Taddeo Gaddi, Paolo Uccello, Fra Giovanni Agnolo, Jacopo da Pontormo, Francesco Salviati, and others. All these were about him with the same expressions of welcome as the ancients, full of love and admiration, in the same manner as Virgil was received by the other poets on his return, according to the fable of the divine poet Dante, from whom, in addition to the invention, there was taken also the verse that could be read in a scroll both above and in the hand of the River Arno, which lay at the feet of Michelagnolo, most beautiful in features and in attitude:


This picture, by the hand of Alessandro Allori, the pupil of Bronzino, an excellent painter and a not unworthy disciple and pupil of so great a master, was consummately extolled by all those who saw it. In the space of the Chapel of the most holy Sacrament, at the head of the transept, there was in a picture, five braccia in length and four in breadth, Michelagnolo with all the school of the arts about him, little children, boys, and young men of every age up to twenty-four, who were offering to him, as to a being sacred and divine, the firstfruits of their labours, such as pictures, sculptures, and models; and he was receiving them courteously, and was instructing them in the matters of art, while they were listening most intently and gazing upon him with expressions and attitudes truly full of beauty and grace. And, to tell the truth, the whole composition of this picture could not have been, in a certain sense, better done, nor could anything more beautiful have been desired in any of the figures, wherefore Battista, the pupil of Pontormo, who had done the work, received infinite praise for it; and the verses that were to be read at the foot of the scene, ran thus:


Going, then, from the place where was the picture described above, towards the principal doors of the church, almost at the corner and just before arriving at the organ, in a picture six braccia long and four high that was in the space of a chapel, there was depicted the extraordinary and unexampled favour that was paid to the rare genius of Michelagnolo by Pope Julius III, who, wishing to avail himself in certain buildings of the judgment of that great man, had him summoned to his presence at his villa, where, having invited him to sit by his side, they talked a good time together, while Cardinals, Bishops, and other personages of the Court, whom they had about them, remained constantly standing. This event, I say, was seen to have been depicted with such fine composition and so much relief, and with such liveliness and spirit in the figures, that perchance it might not have turned out better from the hands of an eminent, aged, and well-practised master; wherefore Jacopo Zucchi, a young man, the pupil of Giorgio Vasari, who executed the work in a beautiful manner, proved that a most honourable result could be expected from him. Not far from this, on the same side (namely, a little below the organ), Giovanni Strada, an able Flemish painter, had depicted in a picture six braccia long and four high the story of Michelagnolo’s going to Venice at the time of the siege of Florence; where, living in that quarter of that most noble city which is called the Giudecca, the Doge Andrea Gritti and the Signoria sent some gentlemen and others to visit him and make him very great offers. In representing that event the above-named painter showed great judgment and much knowledge, which did him great honour, both in the whole composition and in every part of it, for in the attitudes, the lively expressions of the faces, and the movements of every figure, were seen invention, design, and excellent grace.

Now, returning to the high-altar, and facing towards the new sacristy: in the first picture found there, which came in the space of the first chapel, there was depicted by the hand of Santi Titi, a young man of most beautiful judgment and much practised in painting both in Florence and in Rome, another signal favour paid to the genius of Michelagnolo, as I believe I mentioned above, by the most illustrious Lord, Don Francesco de' Medici, Prince of Florence, who, happening to be in Rome about three years before Michelagnolo died, and receiving a visit from him, the moment that Buonarroti entered the Prince rose to his feet, and then, in order to do honour to that great man and to his truly venerable age, with the greatest courtesy that ever young Prince showed, insisted—although Michelagnolo, who was very modest, protested against it—that he should sit in his own chair, from which he had risen, standing afterwards on his feet to hear him with the attention and reverence that children are wont to pay to a well-beloved father. At the feet of the Prince was a boy, executed with great diligence, who had in his hands a mazzocchio, or Ducal cap, and around them were some soldiers dressed in ancient fashion, and painted with much spirit and a beautiful manner; but beyond all the rest, most beautifully wrought, most lifelike and most natural were the Prince and Michelagnolo, insomuch that it appeared as if the old man were in truth speaking, and the young man most intently listening to his words.

In another picture, nine braccia in height and twelve in length, which was opposite to the Chapel of the Sacrament, Bernardo Timante Buontalenti, a painter much beloved and favoured by the most illustrious Prince, had figured with most beautiful invention the Rivers of the three principal parts of the world, come, as it were, all grieving and sorrowful, to lament with Arno on their common loss and to console him; and these Rivers were the Nile, the Ganges, and the Po. The Nile had as a symbol a crocodile, and, to signify the fertility of his country, a garland of ears of corn; the Ganges, a gryphon-bird and a chaplet of gems; the Po, a swan and a crown of black amber. These Rivers, having been conducted into Tuscany by the Fame, who was to be seen on high, as it were in flight, were standing round Arno, who was crowned with cypress and held his vase, drained empty, uplifted with one hand, and in the other a branch of cypress, and beneath him was a lion. And, to signify that the soul of Michelagnolo had flown to the highest felicity in Heaven, the judicious painter had depicted in the air a Splendour representing the celestial light, towards which the blessed soul, in the form of a little Angel, was winging its way; with this lyric verse:


At the sides, upon two bases, were two figures in the act of holding open a curtain within which, so it appeared, were the above-named Rivers, the soul of Michelagnolo, and the Fame; and each of those two figures had another beneath it. That which was on the right hand of the Rivers, representing Vulcan, had a torch in the hand; and the figure representing Hatred, which had the neck under Vulcan’s feet in an attitude of great constraint, and as it were struggling to writhe free, had as symbol a vulture, with this verse:


And that because things superhuman, and almost divine, should in no way be regarded with envy or hatred. The other, representing Aglaia, one of the Three Graces and wife of Vulcan, to signify Proportion, had in her hand a lily, both because flowers are dedicated to the Graces, and also because the lily is held to be not inappropriate to the rites of death. The figure which was lying beneath Aglaia, and which was painted to represent Disproportion, had as symbol a monkey, or rather, ape, and above her this verse:


And under the Rivers were these two other verses:


This picture was held to be very beautiful in the invention, in the composition of the whole scene and the loveliness of the figures, and in the beauty of the verses, and because the painter honoured Michelagnolo with this his labour, not by commission, but spontaneously and with such assistance as his own merit enabled him to obtain from his courteous and honourable friends; and for this reason he deserved to be even more highly commended.

In another picture, six braccia in length and four in height, near the lateral door that leads out of the church, Tommaso da San Friano, a young painter of much ability, had painted Michelagnolo as Ambassador of his country at the Court of Pope Julius II; as we have related that he went, and for what reasons, sent by Soderini. Not far distant from the above-named picture (namely, a little below that lateral door which leads out of the church), in another picture of the same size, Stefano Pieri, a pupil of Bronzino and a young man of great diligence and industry, had painted a scene that had in truth happened several times in Rome not long before—namely, Michelagnolo seated in a room by the side of the most illustrious Lord Duke Cosimo, who stood conversing with him; of all which enough has been said above.

Over the said black draperies with which, as has been told, the whole church was hung all round, wherever there were no painted scenes or pictures, there were in each of the spaces of the chapels images of death, devices, and other suchlike things, all different from those that are generally made, and very fanciful and beautiful. Some of these, as it were lamenting that they had been forced to deprive the world of such a man, had these words in a scroll:


And near them was a globe of the world, from which had sprung a lily, which had three flowers and was broken in the middle, executed with most beautiful fantasy and invention by the above-named Alessandro Allori. There were other Deaths, also, depicted with other inventions, but that one was most extolled upon whose neck, as she lay prostrate on the ground, Eternity, with a palm in the hand, had planted one of her feet, and, regarding her with a look of disdain, appeared to be saying to her: “Be it necessity or thy will, thou hast done nothing, for in spite of thee, come what may, Michelagnolo shall live.” The motto ran thus:


And all this was the invention of Vasari.

I will not omit to say that each of these Deaths had on either side the device of Michelagnolo, which was three crowns, or rather, three circlets, intertwined together in such a manner, that the circumference of one passed through the centre of the two others, and so with each; which sign Michelagnolo used either to suggest that the three professions of sculpture, painting, and architecture are interwoven one with another and so bound together, that each of them receives benefit and adornment from the others, and they neither can nor should be separated; or, indeed, being a man of lofty genius, he may have had a more subtle meaning. But the Academicians, considering him to have been perfect in all these three professions, and that each of these had assisted and embellished the other, changed his three circlets into three crowns intertwined together, with the motto:


Which was intended to signify that in those three professions the crown of human perfection was justly due to him.

On the pulpit from which Varchi delivered the funeral oration, which was afterwards printed, there was no ornamentation, because, that work having been executed in bronze, with scenes in half-relief and low-relief, by the excellent Donatello, any adornment that might have been added to it would have been by a great measure less beautiful. But on the other, which is opposite to the first, although it had not yet been raised on the columns, there was a picture, four braccia in height and little more than two in width, wherein there was painted with beautiful invention and excellent design, to represent Fame, or rather, Honour, a young man in a most beautiful attitude, with a trumpet in the right hand, and with the feet planted on Time and Death, in order to show that fame and honour, in spite of death and time, preserve alive to all eternity those who have laboured valiantly in this life. This picture was by the hand of Vincenzio Danti, the sculptor of Perugia, of whom we have spoken, and will speak again elsewhere.

The church having been embellished in such a manner, adorned with lights, and filled with a countless multitude, for everyone had left every other care and flocked together to such an honourable spectacle, there entered behind the above-named Lieutenant of the Academy, accompanied by the Captain and Halberdiers of the Duke’s Guard, the Consuls and the Academicians, and, in short, all the painters, sculptors, and architects of Florence. After all these had sat down between the catafalque and the high-altar, where they had been awaited for a good while by an infinite number of lords and gentlemen, who had been accommodated with seats according to the rank of each, there was begun a most solemn Mass for the dead, with music and ceremonies of every kind. Which finished, Varchi mounted the above-mentioned pulpit, who had never performed such an office since he did it for the most illustrious Lady Duchess of Ferrara, the daughter of Duke Cosimo; and there, with that elegance, those modes of utterance, and that voice which were the peculiar attributes of that great man in oratory, he recounted the praises and merits, life and works of the divine Michelagnolo Buonarroti.

Of a truth, what great good fortune it was for Michelagnolo that he did not die before our Academy was created, whereby his funeral rites were celebrated with so much honour and such magnificent and honourable pomp! So, also, it must be considered most fortunate for him that it happened that he passed from this to an eternal and most blessed life before Varchi, seeing that he could not have been extolled by any more eloquent and learned man. That funeral oration by M. Benedetto Varchi was printed a short time afterwards, as was also, not long after that, another equally beautiful oration, likewise in praise of Michelagnolo and of painting, composed by the most noble and most learned M. Leonardo Salviati, at that time a young man of about twenty-two years of age, and of a rare and happy genius in all manner of compositions, both Latin and Tuscan, as is known even now, and will be better known in the future, to all the world. And what shall I say, what can I say, that would not be too little, of the capacity, goodness, and wisdom of the very reverend Lord Lieutenant, the above-named Don Vincenzio Borghini? Save that it was with him as their chief, their guide, and their counsellor, that the eminent men of the Academy and Company of Design celebrated those obsequies; for the reason that, although each of them was competent to do much more in his art than he did, nevertheless no enterprise is ever carried to a perfect and praiseworthy end save when one single man, in the manner of an experienced pilot and captain, has authority and power over all others. And since it was not possible that the whole city should see that funeral pomp in one day, by order of the Duke it was all left standing many weeks, for the satisfaction of his people and of the strangers who came from neighbouring places to see it.

We shall not give in this place the great multitude of epitaphs and verses, both Latin and Tuscan, composed by many able men in honour of Michelagnolo; both because they would require a work to themselves, and because they have been written down and published by other writers elsewhere. But I will not omit to say in this last part, that after all the honours described above the Duke ordained that an honourable place should be given to Michelagnolo for his tomb in S. Croce, in which church he had purposed in his lifetime to be buried, because the sepulchre of his ancestors was there. And to Leonardo, the nephew of Michelagnolo, his Excellency gave all the marbles, both white and variegated, for that tomb, which was allotted to Battista Lorenzi, an able sculptor, to execute after the design of Giorgio Vasari, together with the head of Michelagnolo. And since there are to be three statues there, Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, one of these was allotted to the above-named Battista, one to Giovanni dell'Opera, and the last to Valerio Cioli, Florentine sculptors; which statues are in process of being fashioned together with the tomb, and soon they will be seen finished and set in their places. The cost, over and above the marbles received from the Duke, has been borne by the same Leonardo Buonarroti. But his Excellency, in order not to fail in any respect in doing honour to that great man, will cause to be placed in the Duomo, as he has previously thought to do, a memorial with his name, besides the head, even as there are to be seen there the names and images of the other eminent Florentines.

Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was an Italian painter, architect and writer. He is known as the world’s first art historian for his book, "The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects" (1550), also known as “Lives of the Artists.” Vasari’s history tells stories about the painters, architects, and sculptors who lived in Italy and Northern Europe during the period we know as the Renaissance.
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