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intensity as the first. In 1501, Fra Pietro da Nuvolaria writes to the Marchesa Isabella that Leonardo grows very impatient of his painting, and is devoting himself exclusively to geometry. At a later moment, he is busy with the arrangement and revision of his notes. In the spring of 1505 (March 14 to April 15) he is writing his treatise on the flight of birds.
From every point of view, Leonardo's residence in Florence was full of trials. He found himself involved in sordid discussions most painful to him, both as an artist and a man. When his father died (July 9, 1504), his brothers, on the score of his illegitimacy, refused him his share of the inheritance, a portion which, on account of the number of participants, could not in any case have been a large one. The business dragged on, and the final division of the property did not take place till April 15, 1506. But a matter which must have tried Leonardo even more severely was the attempt made by his brothers, after the death of his uncle Francesco, in 1507, to dispute his possession of the few roods of ground which the latter had expressly bequeathed to him by his will, dated August 12, 1504. This time, in spite of his dislike of business, and more especially of lawsuits, he appealed to the Florentine Courts. The suit was still undecided in 1511, and he was forced to seek the aid of the Maréchal de Chaumont, of Louis XII., and of one of his former protectors at Milan, Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, brother-in-law of Ludovico il Moro. The letter addressed by the painter to the cardinal is worthy of reproduction “in extenso." It shows us, amongst other things, the ease with which he already handled epistolary formulæ.
“ To the very illustrious and reverend Signor Ippolito, Cardinal d'Este,
my very venerable Master at Ferrara.
“ MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND REVEREND SIGNOR,
“I arrived here, but a few days since, from Milan, and finding that one of my brothers refuses to carry out the will left by my father at the time of his death, three years ago, I will not
—though all good right is on my side—in order not to fail to myself, in a matter to which I attach importance, omit asking your very reverend Lordship for a letter for the Signor Raphael
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Girolami, who is at present one of our very high and mighty Signors, before whom this business now lies, and who is further specially charged by his Excellency the Gonfaloniere with the said suit, which must be ended and decided before the feast of All Saints. Wherefore, my Lord, I beseech your reverend Lordship, with all my strength, to write a letter hither, to the said Signor Raphael, in the skilful and affectionate tone which you will know so well how-to devise, to recommend Leonardo Vincio, your Lordship’s very eager servant, as I still am and claim to be always, to his favour, and to request and authorise him not only to do me justice, but give me a favourable verdict; and I do not doubt, according to the numerous reports that have been brought to me, that the said Signor Raphael being filled with affection for your Lordship, things will turn out as we desire, which I shall attribute to the letter from your reverend Lordship, to whom I once more present my respects. Et bene valeat. Florence, this 18th of September, 1507. “Your Very Reverend Lordship's very humble servant,
“LEONARDIUS Vincius, pictor.” 1 But, more than any other thing, the failure to fix the Battle of Anghiari upon the wall of the Council Hall disgusted the artist with a work which might have retained him in his own city.
So once again Leonardo turned his face to a foreign country.
1 Campori, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1866, p. 45.
SKETCHES OF HEADS.
LEONARDO IN THE SERVICE OF LOUIS XII.-SECOND SOJOURN IN MILAN -VARIOUS MADONNAS — THE “BACCHUS”—CANALISATION WORKS--JOURNEY TO ROMELEONARDO AND LEO X.—THE MADONNA OF SANT' ONOFRIO.
EONARDO'S eyes were once more turned to Milan, where a
regular government had been established by the French. What changes had taken place since his last visit! Let us take up our narrative at the point where we left off, the moment when Louis XII. crossed the Alps to assert his right over the Milanese, and to put an end to the usurpation of Lodovico Sforza.
Louis XII., a son of Charles of (Windsor Library.)
Orleans, the refined and somewhat
bloodless poet, a grandson of that Valentina Visconti who, in the fourteenth century, had carried a foretaste of Italian art into France, was a very different person from his father-in-law, Louis XI. He took a real, if not always very intelligent, interest in art and letters. He had already become familiarised with Renaissance ideas through the expedition of his
HEAD OF A YOUTH.
cousin and predecessor, Charles VIII.; he had even had an opportunity at Amboise of frequenting the colony of Italian artists imported by that prince. Among them we know he had found one intimate in Domenico da Cortona (11 Boccador), the future architect of the Paris Hôtel de Ville, and another in Fra Gioconda. Louis, when he undertook the conquest of the Milanese (in 1499-1500), was not yet forty years of age, so that his mind was still open to new impressions.
It was in the smiling plains of Lombardy, among the mountains and the lakes, that French art first came into immediate contact with that of Italy. The French Renaissance, daughter of the Italian, had preserved an aroma of “naïveté” and youth, which the Florentine school, already on the decline which inevitably followed its apogee, could not have given it. Our artists, still imbued with the Gothic tradition, were irresistibly drawn to the picturesque forms, to the sincerity and charm, to the frankness, the ingenuous curiosity of the North, rather than to the purer design and finer style of the Tuscans. They found their happiest inspirations in the Pavian Certosa, in the piquant physiognomies, the tormented draperies, and the love for all kinds of amusing details, which marked the Lombard artists.
During his first stay in Milan, Louis XII. had already seen and admired the Last Supper of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the equestrian statue of Lodovico Sforza. His personal acquaintance with the artist seems, however, to have dated only from 1507, the year in which he again passed the Alps to take possession of revolted Genoa. The ground had been well prepared by Charles d'Amboise, whose admiration for Leonardo passed all bounds. The artist had only to reap what this protector had so generously sown for him.
Louis XII. was considerably in advance of his subjects. One of Leonardo's biographers, whom it gives me pleasure to quote, has characterised the “entourage” of the French King from the point of view of taste, with much felicity: “ Louis XII.,” he says, “ had brought with him, on his triumphal journey into Italy, a painter of Paris, his chief painter and valet-de-chambre, one Jean Peréal, who had been already called a second Zeuxis and a second Apelles. Louis wished him to set down on panel or canvas what the chronicler Jean
1 Arsène Houssaye, Histoire de Léonard de Vinci, p. 179