name was Michaelangelo; but what hopeless mediocrity surrounded him, and how one feels that here too the last word had been said!

As in all periods in which inspiration fails, there reigned in the Florentine studios a spirit of discussion, of death-dealing criticism,

eminently calculated, to discourage and enervate. No longer capable of producing strong and simple works like the glorious masters of the first half of the century, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca, or even Andrea del Castagno, every painter strove after novelty, originality, "terribilita "— the word by which Vasari designates this tendency—hoping thereby to place himself above criticism. No artists could be more mannered than these Florentine painters of the end of the fifteenth century; one would willingly give all the cunning of a Pollajuolo for a dash of inspiration. In female beauty, the prevailing ideal was a morbid and suffering type, pale and wasted faces, drooping eyelids, veiled glances, plaintive smiles: if they charm in spite of their incorrect lines it is because they reflect a last ray of the mystical poetry of the middle ages. This ideal, as far removed from the robust and almost virile figures of Masaccio, of Piero della Francesca, of Andrea del Castagno, as it was from the severe though dry distinction of Ghirlandajo's type, was affected, first and foremost, by Fra Filippo Lippo, who was imitated by his son Filippino and by Botticelli. It was mannerism in one of its most dangerous forms.

But let us hear what Leonardo himself has to say, and how clearly he defines the part played by Giotto and afterwards by Masaccio, whose frescoes he no doubt copied, as did all young Florence at that time. "After these came Giotto the Florentine, who—not content with imitating the works of Cimabue, his master—being born in the mountains, and in a solitude interrupted only by goats and such beasts, and being guided by Nature to his art, began by drawing on the rocks the movements of the goats of which he was keeper. And thus he began to draw all the animals which were to be found in the country, and in such wise that after much study he excelled not only all the masters of his time, but all those of many bygone ages." (We may note in passing that Leonardo's testimony confirms the touching account—sometimes questioned—which Ghiberti and Vasari have given us of the early efforts of Giotto). "Afterwards this art declined again, because every one imitated the pictures that were already done. Thus it went on from century to century until Thomas of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio, showed by his perfect works, that those who take for their standard any one but Nature—the mistress of all masters — weary themselves in vain."1



(Museum of the Duomo, Florence.)

According to a story which has all the appearance of truth, Ser Piero da Vinci, struck by the marked aptitude of his son, took some of his sketches to his friend Verrocchio and begged him to give his opinion on them. The impression made, we are told, was excellent, and Verrocchio did not hesitate to accept the youth as his pupil.

If we assume that Leonardo was then about fifteen, we shall be within range of probability in default of any certain

statement on the subject. As I have shown elsewhere,'2 the majority of the artists of the Renaissance were distinguished for their precocity. Andrea del Sarto began his apprenticeship at seven years of age; Perugino at nine; Fra Bartolommeo at ten; at fifteen

1 Richter. The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, vol. i. p. 332.

2 See my Raphael, 2nd ed., pp. 19, 39—40.



(Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.)

Michelangelo executed the mask of a satyr which attracted the notice of Lorenzo the Magnificent; finally, Mantegna painted his first masterpiece—the Madonna of the church of S. Sophia at Padua —when he war. seventeen.

Autres temps, autres masurs / Nowadays, at thirty, an artist is considered young and brilliant, with all his future before him. Four hundred years ago many a great artist had said his last word at that age.

Apprenticeship properly so-called—by which the pupil entered the family of the master—was for two, four, or six years according to the age of the apprentice; this was succeeded by associateship, the duration of which also varied according to age, and during which the master gave remuneration to a greater or less amount (Lorenzo di Credi, Leonardo's fellow-student, received twelve florins, about ,£24 a year). Mastership was the final point of this long and strenuous initiation.1

Before studying the relations between Leonardo da Vinci and Verrocchio we will endeavour to define the character and talents of the latter.2

Andrea Verrocchio (born in 1435) was only seventeen years older than his pupil, an advantage which would seem relatively slight over such a precocious genius as Leonardo; we may add that the worthy Florentine sculptor had developed very slowly, and had long been absorbed by goldsmith's work and other tasks of a secondary character. Notwithstanding his growing taste for sculpture on a grand scale, he

1 These patriarchal customs remained in force till well into the eighteenth century. Thus Se'bastien Bourdon spent seven years under his first master though, it is true, he was only fourteen when he left him. In 1664, the statutes of the Paris Academy of Painting and Sculpture fixed three years as the average term of apprenticeship; each member of the Academy might only receive one pupil at a time.

2 In my Histoire de P Art pendant la Renaissance (vol. ii. p. 497) and in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1891, vol. ii. p. 277—287) I have endeavoured to describe the evolution of Verrocchio's talent and to draw up a catalogue of his works. I here add a few notes to my former essays. If the tomb of Giovanna Tornabuoni, formerly in the church of the Minerva at Rome, is now generally recognised as a production from the studio of the master, but not by his own hand, a learned critic, Herr Bode, attributes to Verrocchio various bas-reliefs in bronze and stucco: the Descent from the Cross with the portrait of Duke Pederigo of Urbino (?) in the church of the Carmine at Venice ; the Discord in the South Kensington Museum, the Judgment of Paris, a bronze plaque in the collection of M. Gustave Dreyfus of Paris {Archivio sturico delC Arte, 1893, pp. 77- 84) These compositions are essentially loose and supple in treatment.

undertook to the last those decorative works which were the delight of his contemporaries, the Majani, the Civitali, the Ferrucci. We learn from a document of 1488 that up till the very eve of his death he was engaged upon a marble fountain for King Mathias Corvinus.1 Herein he shows himself a true quattrocentist.

The following are a few dates by which to fix the chronology of the master's work.

In 1468—1469 we find him engaged on a bronze candelabrum for the Palazzo Vecchio. In 1472, he executed the bronze sarcophagus of Giovanni and Piero de' Medici in the sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo. In 1474, he began the mausoleum of Cardinal Forteguerra in the cathedral at Pistoja. The bronze statue of David (in the Museo Nazionale, Florence) brought him into evidence at last in 1476. Then came (in 1477) the small bas-relief of the Beheading of John the Baptist, destined for the silver altar of the Baptistery; between 1476 and 1483 the Unbelief of S. Thomas; finally, towards the end of a career that was all too short (Verrocchio died in 1488, at the age of fifty-three), the equestrian statue of Colleone, his unfinished masterpiece.

The impetus necessary to set this somewhat slow and confused intelligence soaring was—so the biographer Vasari affirms—a sight of the masterpieces of antiquity in Rome. For my part, I am inclined to attribute Verrocchio's evolution to the influence of Leonardo, so rapidly transformed from the pupil into the master of his master; an influence which caused those germs of beauty, scattered at first but sparsely through Verrocchio's work, attained to maturity in the superb group of The Unbelief of S. Thomas and the Angels of the Forteguerra monument, rising finally to the virile dignity, the grand style, of the Colleone.

Compared with the part played by Michelangelo, that of Verrocchio, the last great Florentine sculptor of the fifteenth century, may appear wanting in brilliance; it was assuredly not wanting in utility. Verrocchio was before all things a seeker, if not a finder; essentially incomplete in organisation, but most suggestive in spirit, he sowed more than he reaped, and produced more pupils than masterpieces. The revolution he brought about with Leonardo's co-operation 1 Gaye, Carteggio, vol. i. pp. 569—570. Cf. p. 575.

was big with consequences; it aimed at nothing less than the substitution of the picturesque, sinuous, undulating, living element, for the plastic and decorative formulae, sometimes a little over-facile, of his predecessors. Nothing, as a rule, could be less precise than his contours; the general outline is difficult to seize; above all things, he lacks the art of harmonising a statue or a bas-relief with the surrounding architecture, as is abundantly proved by his Child

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with a Dolphin with its strained, improbable, and yet delicious, attitude. He is the master of puckered faces, of crumpled, tortured draperies; no one could be less inspired by the antique, as regards clearness of conception, or distinction and amplitude of form. But there is an extraordinary sincerity in his work; he makes a quiver of life run through frail limbs, reproduces the soft moisture of the skin, obtains startling effects of chiaroscuro with his complex draperies, gives warmth and colour to subjects apparently the most simple. This reaction against the cold austerity of the two Tuscan masters

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