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theatre, treatises on painting, on sculpture, and many other works of the highest merit—such are Alberti's titles to the admiration and gratitude of posterity. But the Renaissance, on approaching maturity, was to endow another son of Florence with yet greater power, a still wider range. Compared with Leonardo how pedantic, how narrow, nay, how timorous Alberti appears!
These faculties of the mind in no wise prejudiced the qualities of the heart. Like Raphael, Leonardo was distinguished for his infinite kindliness, like him he lavished interest and affection even upon dumb animals. Leonardo, Vasari tells us, had so much charm of manner and conversation that he won all hearts. Though, in a certain sense, he had nothing of his own and worked little, he always found means to keep servants and horses, of which latter he was very fond, as indeed of all animals; he reared and trained them with as much love as patience. Often, passing the places where they sold birds, he would buy some, and taking them out of their cages with his own hand, restore them to liberty. A contemporary of Leonardo, Andrea Corsali, writes from India in 1515 to Giuliano de' Medici, that like " il nostro Leonardo da Vinci" the inhabitants of these regions permit no harm to be done to any living creature.1 This longing for affection, this liberality, this habit of looking upon their pupils as their
1 It appears from Corsali's letter that Leonardo ate no meat, but lived entirely on vegetables, thus forestalling our modern vegetarians by several centuries. (Richter's The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, vol. ii. p. 130.)
family, are traits which the two great painters have in common, but are the very traits which distinguish them from Michelangelo, the misanthropic, solitary artist, the sworn foe of feasting and pleasure. In his manner of shaping his career, however, Raphael approaches far nearer to Michelangelo than to Leonardo, who was proverbially easy-going and careless. Raphael, on the contrary, prepared his future with extreme care ; not only gifted but industrious, he occupied himself early in the foundation of his fortune; whereas Leonardo lived from hand to mouth, and subordinated his own interests to the exigencies of science.
From the very beginning—and on this point we do not hesitate to accept Vasari's testimony—the child showed an immoderate, at times even extravagant, thirst for knowledge of every description; he would have made extraordinary progress, had it not been for his marked instability of purpose. He threw himself ardently into the study of one science after another, went at a bound to the very root of questions, but abandoned work as readily as he had begun it. During the few months he devoted to arithmetic, or rather to mathematics, he acquired such knowledge of the subject that he nonplussed his master every moment, and put him to the blush. Music had no less attraction for him; he excelled particularly on the lute, which instrument he used later for the accompaniment of the songs he improvised.1 In short, like another Faust, he desired to traverse the vast cycle of human knowledge, and, not content to have assimilated the discoveries of his contemporaries, to address himself directly to nature in order to extend the field of science.
We have now pointed out the rare capacities of the young genius, the variety of his tastes and acquirements; his pre-eminence in all bodily exercises and all intellectual contests; it is time to consider the use he made of such exceptional gifts. Despite his precocious versatility, one ruling faculty soon showed itself conspicuously in him, and that was a strong, an irresistible vocation for the arts of design. In studying his first original productions, we discover that, to a far greater degree than Raphael, Leonardo was a prodigy. The latest researches have proved how slow and toilsome was the development
1 On Leonardo as a musician see the Ricerche of Sig. Uzielli, 2nd ed., vol. i. PP- 557—577
of the artist of Urbino, through what arduous labour he had to pass before he could give free play to his originality. There was nothing of this with Leonardo. From the first, he declares himself with admirable authority and originality. Not that he was a facile worker—no artist produced more slowly—but, from the very outset, his vision was so personal, that from being the pupil of his masters, he became their initiator.
Leonardo's father seems to have resided more often in Florence than in Vinci, and it was undoubtedly in the capital of Tuscany, and not in the obscure little town of Vinci, that the brilliant faculties of the child were unfolded. The site of the house occupied by the family has recently been determined; it stood in the Piazza San Firenze, on the spot where the Gondi palace now stands, and disappeared towards the end of the fifteenth century, when Giuliano Gondi pulled it down to make room for the palace to which he gave his name.
What Florence was during that period of political exhaustion, of industrial and commercial prosperity, of literary, scientific, and artistic exaltation, I shall not attempt to set forth here. Among my present readers there are, perhaps, some who have not forgotten earlier publications of mine, notably Les Prdcurseurs de la Renaissance, in whicli I traced a picture—fairly complete, I think—of intellectual life on the banks of the Arno in the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
Towards the period when the da Vinci family settled in Florence, the Florentine school had arrived at one of those climacteric crises at which a power must either abdicate, or start afresh on new lines. The revolution inaugurated by Brunellesco, Donatello, and Masaccio had effected all it was capable of effecting; and we see their successors in the last part of the fiiteenih centi ry wavering between imitation and mannerism, powerless to fertilise an exhausted inheritance. In architecture, great as was the talent of the San Galli, the sceptre speedily passed into the hands of Bramante of Urbino, then into those of the representatives of Upper Italy—Vignole, who was born near Modena, Serlio, a native of Bologna, Palladio, most famous of the sons of Vicenza. In sculpture, one Florentine only had achieved a commanding position since Verrocchio and Pollajuolo; it is true that his