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most in favour at the time, Mino di Fiesole and Matteo Civitale di Lucca, was much needed, though Verrocchio has perhaps rather overshot the mark.
His favourite type of beauty is somewhat unhealthy, and not wholly devoid of affectation. Ghirlandajo's Florentine women are haughty and impassive; Botticelli's fascinating in their guileless tenderness; Verrocchio's are pensive and melancholy. Even his men—take the S. Thomas, for instance —have a plaintive disillusioned smile, the Leonardesque smile.
All there is of feminine, one might almost say effeminate, in Leonardo's art, the delicacy, the morbidezza, the suavity, appear, though often merely in embryo, in the work of Andrea Verrocchio.
To sum up, Verrocchio is the plastic artist, deeply enamoured of form, delighting in hollowing it out, in fining it down; he has none of the literary temperament of a
Donatello, a Mantegna, masters who, in order to give expression to the passions that stir them, to realise their ideal, need a vast theatre, numerous actors, dramatic subjects. There is no mise-en-sceue, no searching after recondite ideas with Verrocchio, any more than with Leonardo. The simplest subject—a child playing with a dolphin, a woman holding a flower—suffices them for the condensation of all their poetry, all their science.
A critic has spoken of the natural sympathy between Verrocchio and Leonardo. "In neither artist," says Rio, the eloquent and intolerant author of LArt Chretien, "does harmony exclude force; they
show the same admiration for the masterpieces of Greek and Roman antiquity, the same predominance of the plastic qualities, the same passion for finish of details in great as well as small compositions, the same respect for perspective and geometry in their connection with painting, the same pronounced taste for music, the same tendency to leave a work unfinished, and begin a fresh one, and, more remarkable still, the same predilection for the war-horse, the monumental horse, and all the studies appertaining thereto." But are not these points of contact rather due to chance than any intellectual relationship between the two temperaments? and may not more than one of the arguments brought forward by Rio be equally well turned against him? Verrocchio was a limited spirit, a prosaic character; Leonardo, on the other hand, was the personification of unquenchable curiosity, of aristocratic tastes, of innate grace and elegance. The one raises himself laboriously towards a higher ideal; the other brings that ideal with him into the world.
We shall see presently what was Leonardo's attitude with respect to his master's teaching. For the moment we will confine ourselves to affirming that never did artist revolt more openly against all methodical and continuous work.
Under this master—so essentially suggestive—Leonardo was thrown with several fellow-students who, without attaining his glory, achieved a brilliant place among painters. The chief of these was Perugino. Born in 1446, and consequently six years older than Leonardo, the young Umbrian artist had passed through the most severe trials before becoming known, perhaps even before winning the attention of so reputed a master as Verrocchio. For long months together, Vasari tells us, he had no bed but an old wooden chest, and was constrained to sit up for whole nights working for his living. When he placed himself under Verrocchio, or when he left him, no one knows. The very fact of a connection between the two artists has been questioned. It is true, of course, that Verrocchio only practised painting incidentally and did not shine in that branch of art; by trade, we know, he was a goldsmith; he became a sculptor from inclination. Perugino, however, differing in this from the majority of truly universal and encyclopaedic artists of his time, was a painter and nothing else; why then should he have put himself under a master to whom this branch of art was practically foreign? Moreover, if one studies closely the analogies between the productions of Verrocchio and those of his two undisputed pupils, Leonardo da Vinci and Lorenzo di Credi, and then the traces of relationship between the works of the two latter, one is forced to acknowledge that at no period of an extraordinarily prolific career does the manner of Perugino present the slightest family resemblance to that of his reputed master, or his reputed fellow-students. His warm and lustrous scale of colour, his sharply accentuated outlines, and above all, his favourite types, taken exclusively from his native country, and showing all the meagreness of the Umbrian race, are all his own. At the most, his sojourn in Florence and, later on, in Rome, familiarised him with certain accessories then in fashion, for instance, those ornaments in the antique style which he introduced lavishly in his pictures, where they proclaim their want of harmony with the rest of the composition, the sentiment of which is so unclassical.
We must be careful, however, to question the testimony of an author usually so well informed as Vasari on such evidence. If we consider the house of Verrocchio not as an artist's studio, strictly speaking, but as a laboratory, a true chemical laboratory, the arguments just brought forward lose their force. Under this ardent innovator, Perugino may well have studied, not so much the art of painting, as the science of colouring, the chemical properties of colours, their combinations, all those problems which the pupils of Verrocchio, Leonardo as well as Lorenzo di Credi, were unceasingly engaged upon.1
Like all his fellow-students, Perugino was rather a colourist than a draughtsman. It were fruitless to demand of him compositions brilliantly imagined or cunningly put together; warmth of colour, combined with the expression of meditation, of religious fervour—these are his sole qualities, and they are not to be despised. Perugino had,
1 And, indeed, the group of the Holy Family by Perugino, in the Museum at Nancy, had its origin in the corresponding group of Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks (Crowe and Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in Italy, vol. iii. p. 225). Nor, most assuredly, is it from simple caprice that Perugino introduces the portrait of Verrocchio into one of his paintings for the monastery of the Jesuits in Florence (Vasari, Milanesi's ed., vol. iii, p. 574)- Such distinctions were accorded only to patrons or to friends.
in all probability, already quitted Verrocchio's atelier in 1475. At least, it was suggested that he should paint the great hall of the
Palazzo Pubblico of Perugia at this date.
Leonardo, with all his numerous writings, is so chary of details as to his private affairs and connections that we know not whether the relations with Perugino, begun in Verrocchio's studio, survived the departure of the latter. The two artists
STUDY Of A HORSEMAN (ASCRIBED TO VERROCCHIO). muSt, hoWCVCr, have had many opportunities of meeting again later on: first of all, in Florence, where Perugino was working in 1482; then in Lombardy in 1496; then, after 1500, once more in Florence, where Perugino had set up a studio which was much frequented. Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi, has perpetuated the memory of this connection in three well-known lines, wherein he speaks of two adolescents of the same age animated by the same passions —Leonardo da Vinci and Perugino, or Pietro della Pieve, a divine painter:
Due giovin par d'etate e par d'amori
Yet another Umbrian, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo of Perugia, appears to have worked in Verrocchio's studio. His first dated work, the altarpiece in the Gallery of Perugia (1472) shows him, at least, to have been influenced by the Florentine master.1
STUDY OF A HORSEMAN (ASCRIBED TO YERKOCCHlO).
Lorenzo di Andrea Credi (1459—1537), the son and grandson of goldsmiths, was placed, when quite a child, under Verrocchio's tuition,
1 Schmarsow, Pinturricchio in Rom, p. 5. Bode, Italienische Bildhauer, p. 151. Ulmann, Sandra Botticelli, p. 38.
and was still working under him, at the age of twenty-one, content with the modest salary of one florin (about £2) a month. He was living at that time (1480) with his mother "Mona Lisa," a widow aged sixty years. His two sisters, Lucrezia and Lena, were married. The fortune of the little household consisted of a tiny property at Casarotta.
A tender friendship united Lorenzo and his master, whom he accompanied later to Venice, to assist in the execution of the statue
of Colleone, and who, at his death, named him his executor. His was a nature profoundly contemplative and religious: he was an impassioned follower of Savonarola, as were the great majority of Florentine artists; but, after the fall of the prophet, discouragement followed on boundless enthusiasm. His will bears witness to his sense of contrition: after having assured the future of his old woman-servant, to whom he left his bedding, and an annuity in kind; after having made certain donations to his niece and to the daughter of a friend, a goldsmith; he directed that the rest of his fortune should go to the brotherhood of the indigent poor, and that his