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The Adoration of the Magi as rendered respectively by Filippino and by Leonardo, illustrates the difference between the two masters to perfection. In Filippino's, in spite of passages of great beauty, such as the figure of the crouching shepherd, which is not unworthy of the brush of Raphael, we are conscious of the lack of expression in the heads; all, but especially those in the foreground, are empty, trivial, and marked by a facile cleverness. Filippino did not fail to introduce portraits of his contemporaries, notably the Medici, an expedient to which Leonardo never lent himself.
On the other hand, Filippino could not wholly resist the fascination of his rival. The figure in profile with uplifted hands, behind the crouching shepherd, was evidently inspired by the personage in the middle distance on the right in Leonardo's cartoon.
The drawing of 5. Jerome at Windsor and the sketch of S. Jerome on panel in the Vatican Gallery (formerly in the Fesch collection) are generally classed among the productions of the Florentine period.1 The saint is represented on his knees, holding a crucifix in one hand, and about to strike himself on the breast with the other. The drawing is as firm and vigorous in execution as the sketch is blurred and hesitating. The vicissitudes through which the latter passed in its humiliation explain its imperfections all too well. The head was cut out from the panel, and was long separated from the composition. The features have an expression of deep suffering. The traditional lion at the Saint's side is superbly modelled. There is a church in the background, in which we recognise Santa Maria Novella at Florence, with the facade as restored by L. B. Alberti.2
The first thing that strikes us in considering this period of Leonardo's activity (from 1472, when he was received a member of the Guild of Painters at Florence, to 1482 or 1483, the date of his departure for Milan) is the extreme rarity of his works. Some two or three pictures and sketches are all we can point to as the fruits of these
1 About 1478, according to Herr Muller-Walde. (Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsammlungen, 1891, p. 126.)
* De Geymuller apud Richter, vol. ii. p. 54.
twelve years. And yet, vast cycles were projected and begun at this period in Florence and in Rome. How was it that the patrons of the day neglected the glorious dibutant? The reason is not far to seek. By this time Leonardo's tendencies were familiar to all. It was known, on the one hand, that he had little taste for large compositions with numerous figures, such as frescoes; and, on the other, that his
strivings after a perfection almost superhuman often led to the abandonment of a work he had undertaken.
Whatever the date, whatever the authenticity even, of the works we have now enumerated, the Annunciations in the Louvre and the Uffizi, the Adoration of the Magi, the S. Jerome, etc., one fact is undeniable. Thenceforth a new leaven, fecund but disturbing, was at work; and this Leonardo alone had cast into the ferment of Florentine culture. Thenceforth the reign of archaism was over; its conventions and its rigidity were swept away, together with harsh contrasts of colour, the substitution of portraits for types, all, in fact, that implied effort and tension.
Let us pause for a moment over this last defect, and leave the others for later consideration. Can anything equal the easy grace of Leonardo, the apparent carelessness which overlies his profound calculation? His grounds, as we say now, were as conscientiously laid as those of any of his predecessors or contemporaries; but by