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just as his rival and enemy, Michelangelo, seems always to have been sixty. It is as hard to imagine Leonardo aged, gloomy, and infirm, as to conceive Michelangelo young and gay. When more than sixty years have passed over his head, he resolves with a cheerful heart to cross the Alps, convinced he will be able to satisfy all the fancies of the young and eager king. But a few days before his death we see him still collecting notes, with all the eagerness of youth. What for, ye gods ? unless it were to act upon them in the next world !
May we not take Leonardo as the incarnation of the Renaissance, with all its generous aspirations, the personification of that springtide of human intelligence, crushed in the blossom by religious struggles, even as Michelangelo personifies the spirit of revolt, the melancholy and the pain of belief, threatened by science, and of morality, sacrificed by artists and scholars, who paid an all too complaisant court to tyranny ?
Francis I. showed his desire to honour the greatness of the master by bestowing a princely revenue upon him—700 crowns, about £1,400. This fact is attested by Benvenuto Cellini, who boasted, at a later date, that he had been granted a like sum. But let us leave the great goldsmith and writer to speak for himself. After relating that he has acquired a copy of Leonardo's treatise on the three great arts, he adds that, “as that great man's genius was as vast as it was varied, and as he had a certain acquaintance with Greek and Latin literature, King Francis, who was violently enamoured of his great talents, took so great a delight in hearing him argue, that he only parted from him for a few days in the year, thus preventing him from putting the splendid studies, which he had carried on with so much discipline, to actual use. I must not fail to repeat the words concerning him which I heard from the king's own lips, when he spoke to me, in the presence of the Cardinal of Ferrara, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and the King of Navarre. He affirmed that never any man had come into the world who knew so much as Leonardo ; and that not only in matters of sculpture, painting, and architecture, for in addition, he was a great philosopher.”
A few words concerning Francesco Melzi, Leonardo's faithful companion, the only one of his pupils who followed him abroad, will not be inappropriate here.
Melzi belonged to a noble family of Milan, where he was born (we believe) in 1498. (He was therefore only twenty years of age when his master died.) He cultivated painting as an amateur, rather than as a professional. Lomazzo speaks with special praise of his talent for miniature painting. After Leonardo's death he returned to his own country, where he lived many years (he died after 1568), but
without producing any artistic work If Amina visa att stod
—as if the loss of his beloved master had broken all his powers. Possibly his leisure was employed in the arrangement of the manuscripts bequeathed to him by Leonardo. His name appears, at all events, on the copy of the Trattato della Pittura, in the Vatican Library. (See vol. 1 p. 231.)
Till quite lately critics have Am ogil nid ollen
ascribed the Vertumnus and Pomona, 2 Ar stintos maand) of women
in the Berlin Museum, to Melzi's yd om or how
brush. But Herr Bode has traversed
this attribution, and (Library of the Institut de France, MS. I.)
picture to some obscure artist. 3 Authentic works by Melzi having almost disappeared, I will confine myself to pointing out the fact that the heroine in this picture (a young woman seated under a tree, with a basket of flowers and fruit) is of the most pronounced Leonardesque type. Standing close beside her, touching her shoulder, is an old woman (Vertumnus), leaning on a stick. In the background is a range
i Rime, fol. 112, Milan, 1587. See also L'Arte del Minio nel Ducato di Milano, by the Marchese d'Adda ; Milan, 1886, p. 65-67.
2 There is a study for Pomona's foot in the Windsor collection, from which Waagen inferred that this picture might be ascribed to the master himself. (Treasures of Art in Great Britain, vol. i. p. 442.)
8 Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1889, vol. i. p. 498-500,
of curious jagged mountains. The Pomona is very elegant, and has Leonardo's characteristic smile. The bare shoulders, arms, and feet are modelled with infinite care. The work is soft and effeminate, but it has a certain charm.
The only really authentic work by Melzi now in existence is a small portrait, in red chalk, in the Ambrosian Library. It represents an old man, beardless and bald, in profile to the right. The ear is too small, and set much too high, and there is a certain timidity in the handling. The inscription : “1520 Adi 14 Augusto pa cavata de relevo. Io Francescho da Melzo di anni 17," and in the same hand, lower down, (“anni 19, Fr. Melzo,") puts us in a serious difficulty. For if Melzi was really born in 1498, he would have been twenty-two, and not eighteen, in 1520.1
Rosini has published, as Leonardo's work, a portrait of Melzi—a bust, in profile to the right, with bare neck and long hair curled and waved, bound with a wreath of oak leaves ; the edge of a tunic and the guard (Library of the Institut de France, MS. I.) of a sword just appear.2 Needless to say, the picture in question has nothing to do with the master.
The residence assigned to Leonardo was the good town of Amboise, the cradle of the first colony of artists summoned to France by Charles VIII., and the favourite dwelling-place of the young reigning monarch. There a great part of his youth had been spent ; there, in the first year of his reign, he had celebrated the betrothal of Renée de Montpensier with the Duke of Lorraine ; there, between 1515 and 1517, three of his own children had been born.3
1 Ch. Ravaisson-Mollien. Bulletin de la Société des Antiquaires de France, 1887, p. 125, reproduced (reversed) by Gerli (pl. xiv.), photographed by Braun (no. 54).
2 Storia della Pittura, vol. iv., p. 257.
3 La Touraine historique et monumentale, Amboise, p. 410-429. Tours, 1897. The little chapel attached to the manor house of Cloux contains several pictures which have VOL. II,
We know that Francis l. was at Amboise, amongst other periods, from September 3 to September 19, from November 4 to November 29, from December 5 to December 28, in 1516; on January 1 and 2, and from December 13 to 31 in 1517; and from January 3 to March 31, in 1518.
Leonardo was assigned the little manor house of Cloux, standing between the Castle and the town of Amboise.
This residence, built by Etienne le Loup, steward of Louis XI., had been bought, in 1490, with all the lands attached to it, by Charles VIII. for the sum of 3,500 gold crowns. It had afterwards passed into the hands of the Comte de St. Pol; thence into those of the Duc d'Alençon, and finally, into the possession of Queen Louise de Savoie, mother of Francis I. The manor house, now known under the name of Clos-Lucé, has been tastefully restored. It is at present the property of M. G. Saint-Bris.1
“ The house, built of brick and white stone, has a sunny aspect, and is sheltered on the north by the hill. It consists of two corps de logis, forming a square. In the inner angle of this square rises an elegant winding staircase, of octagonal shape.” “ Leonardo,” says Anatole de Montaiglon, from whom I borrow this description, “has leaned on the window-sills of the two storeys, his feet have trodden the staircase, his step has passed through all the eight large rooms of which the dwelling is composed ; and in the quiet house, which has not altered, externally at least, since those days, we can imagine we see him yet.” We are assured that the room in which he breathed his last is still in existence, with its raftered ceiling, its huge hearth, and its general aspect of austerity.
The aged and illustrious painter described his residence as a palace. “June 24, S. John's Day,” (a feast dear to every Florentine heart !) “1518, at Amboise, nel palazzo del Clli. (sic)” is the entry in his own hand in one of his note books (Richter, vol. ii. p. 417). been occasionally attributed to Leonardo (a Visitation, a Virgin and Child, an Assumption). Arsène Houssaye fancied he recognised through the repaints in the head of a Madonna, an angel's head by Melzi, or some Milanese artist. The Marquis de Laborde, however, considers that none of these works bear the slightest resemblance to Leonardo's manner, and even believes them to belong to a period much earlier than that of his residence at Amboise. (La Renaissance des Arts à la Cour de France, vol. i., p. 196.)
1 Réunions des Sociétés des Beaux Arts des Departements, 1893, p. 784.