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Ambrogio de Predis and Bernardino dei Conti, Andrea Solario, Cesare da Sesto, the miniaturist Fra Antonio da Monza, and, above all, Sodoma, and Bernardino Luini.
Francesco Melzi, the venerable artist's Benjamin, has already been introduced to my readers. No less dear to him was Salai. But let us turn to Vasari. “At Milan Leonardo da Vinci took as his pupil one Salai,-a Milanese remarkable for his beauty and grace, with beautiful curling and wavy hair, which Leonardo greatly loved, and taught him many things pertaining to his art. Several works ascribed in Milan to Salai were touched up by Leonardo.” This, if I am not mistaken, is all we know of the life history of the young Salai, or Salaino.
Some time since, while perusing a collection of papers connected with the history of Hungary, I was struck by the appearance of the uncommon name, Andrea Salai, described, to my great surprise, as a Hungarian, and a crossbowman. “Andrea Salai, Ungero Balistrero."1 This individual was at Brindisi, and in the service of the House of Naples, in 1481. In all probability, he was the father of Leonardo's pupil ; for if Salai had borne arms in 1481, he would have been Leonardo's contemporary, or very near it; whereas he really was more in the position of his adopted son.
Some people will raise the objection that in Italy a son is very seldom given his own father's Christian name. I grant it. He is generally named after his grandfather. Still, exceptions frequently occur. In the family of Vespasiano dei Bisticci, Filippo, the brother of the famous bookseller and biographer, bore his father's name.?
Andrea Salai (the diminutive of Salaino) first makes his appearance in 1495. He fulfilled the duties of “ garzone ” (almost those of a servant) about Leonardo's person. (The intimacy existing in those days between master and man imparted a dignity, which has now well nigh disappeared, to all domestic service.) His master's extreme indulgence permitted him to gratify a tolerably extravagant taste. In
1 Monumenta Hungariae historica ; Diplom., vol. iii., p. 4 (Pesth, 1877).
? See Bartoli, Vespasiano dei Bisticci. It should be noted that a “D. Jo. Jacobus de Caprotis, dictus Salay, filius q. D. Jo. Petri,” is mentioned as having lived at the Porta Vercellina at Milan, in 1524. The lamented Caffi wondered whether the painter Andrea Salai may not have belonged to this Caprotti family. (Di alcuni Maestri di Arte nel secolo XV. in Milano poco noti o male indicati, p. 16-17. Archivio storico lombardo, 1878.)
1497 he gave him a cloak (“ una cappa ") which cost no less than between five-and-twenty and thirty lire; there were eight yards of cloth in it, with green velvet for the facings, ribbons, and I know not what.1 The entry of this payment is followed by a note which casts a somewhat unpleasing light on the young man's character. “Salai rubò 4 soldi” (Salai has stolen 4 soldi). In 1502 the kind-hearted Leonardo gave his pet retainer two gold ducats (about £4), to buy himself a pair of shoes trimmed with rose colour.2 He took an interest, too, in his favourite's family, and lent him thirteen crowns, in 1508, to make up his sister's dowry.3
In January, 1505, Salai testified his great anxiety to “far qualche cosa galante," for the Marchesa Isabella d'Este. His offer does not seem to have been accepted, and we are all the more astonished to find the Florentine correspondents of that lady selecting Leonardo's pupil to judge, nay, even to correct Perugino's picture, The Battle between Love and Chastity, which was to adorn the walls of the Palace at Mantua. 4
Salai accompanied Leonardo to Rome in 1514, but he refused to follow his master to France, preferring to settle in the house he built himself in the vineyard owned by the artist close to the gates of Milan. Half this vineyard was, as we have seen, bequeathed to him by Leonardo
The later circumstances of Leonardo's favourite pupil and the date of his death are wrapped in obscurity.
No acknowledged work by Salai has yet been discovered, though a series of imitations, more or less free, of his master's works—the Saint Anne, the Virgin and Child in the Uffizi Gallery, the Saint John in the Ambrosiana, 5—are ascribed to him. The Holy Family in the Brera, to which his name is affixed, is remarkable for its exceedingly intense, almost opaque, colour, and for a general weakness, emptiness, and lack of inspiration. The Virgin is of a pronounced Leonardesque type, and the flowers which adorn the foreground are very carefully painted.
1 Richter, Leonardo, p. 60.
2 Ravaisson-Mollien, Bulletin de la Société nationale des Antiquaires de France, 1889 p. 206-208.
3 Amoretti, p. 95.
4 Braghirolli, Notizie intorno ... a Pietro l'ani.urci, p. 39. Cf. Luzio in L'Archivio storico dell'Arte, 1888, p. 183. 5 Woltmann and Woermann, Geschichte der Malerei, vol. ii., p. 562.
II II 2
No authentic work by Pietro Ricci (Giovanni Pedrini, or Giampietrino) is known to exist. Morelli has ascribed a series of sacred pictures, very cold in tone, in which a strong shade of orange yellow predominates, (amongst them is a Nladonna in the Borghese Gallery at Rome), to this painter's brush. His fame rests chiefly on a picture of Plenty in the Borromeo collection at Milan, and on free copies of The Virgin, and the Child Jesus with the Lamb, from Leonardo's Saint Anne, in the Poldi-Pezzoli Collection in the same city. He is suggested by M. Somoff as the author of an Angel, in the Hermitage Collection. Our knowledge of the artist is so scanty that any attempt to form a judgment as to his work would be rash,
If darkness hangs over the work of Melzi, Salai, and Giampietrino, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (who died in 1516, at the age of fortyeight, and who, like Melzi, belonged to a well-known Milanese family), stands cut, a clear historical entity. This artist, whose style in his large picture now in the Louvre (the Madonna of the Casa Casio, dated 1500), was still somewhat heavy and awkward, attained, under Leonardo's influence, a rare refinement, as exemplified in his Madonna and Child, in the Poldi-Pezzoli Gallery, and his Holy Family, now in the Seminario at Venice.3
Marco d'Oggione, who specially employed himself in making copies of Leonardo's Last Supper, was a hard-working artist, whose works are wanting in vivacity of feeling and purity of drawing. In his compositions, intensity of colour does duty for intensity of sentiment. The most attractive of his pictures—the Archangels victorious over Satan, in the Brera Museum–demonstrates the inadequacy of Leonardo's immediate pupils, whenever they were called upon for dramatic expression. Their capabilities were confined to idyllic subjects ; yet Leonardo
1 Die Galerie Borghese und Doria Pamfili, p. 202-206.--Id. Die Galerie von München, p. 114.-Frimmel, Kleine Galerie Studien, vol. ii., p. 22.–Archivio storico dell' Arte, 1890, p. 358.-Frizzoni, Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, vol. xvii., p. 122.-A Madonna and Child, in Mr. A. Hallam-Murray's collection, was engraved in the Magazine of Art, 1894, p. 148.- Bode, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1889, vol. i., p. 500.
2 Ermi'age impérial. Catalogue de la Galerie des Tableaux. Les Ecoles d'Italie et d'Espagne en 1637. (1891.)
3 Venturi, Archivio storico dell'Arte, 1898, p. 415. Frimmel, Kleine Galerie Studien, vol. ii., p. 221–224.
himself, in the Last Supper and the Battle of Anghiari, had shown the originality and power with which he could treat mental struggle and physical effort.
Cesare da Sesto was also an occasional imitator of Leonardo. He oscillates between him and Raphael, except, indeed, when—as in his brilliant Madonna in the Brera (no. 265)—he makes an excursion into the style of Peruzzi or Correggio. The horses in one of his studies for his Adoration of the Magi, now in the Accademia at Venice, are a flagrant imitation of Leonardo.1
The two most brilliant disciples of the leader of the Milanese school, Antonio Bazzi, surnamed Il Sodoma, and Bernardino Luini, may never, possibly, have had the good fortune to listen to his counsels. I will give no fresh description in this place of the gifts of these two incomparable artists, nor of those of their successor, Gaudenzio Ferrari : my readers will allow me to refer them to the third volume of my Histoire de l'Art pendant la Renaissance, in which I have striven to make their work known, and win both admiration and affection for it. I will only point out that the loving care, amounting to minute attention, which Leonardo lavished on the least of his productions, does not characterise either Luini or Il Sodoma. Both these artists betray a tendency to generalisation, without any recourse to those endless researches which have as much to do with science as with art. They do not, in fact, belong to the fifteenth century, and they were able, thanks to the efforts of their glorious forerunner, to make free use of the formulæ he had so laboriously acquired. There is something literary, too, in their genius. They are more fitted for the brilliant development of some given subject, than inclined to strive after the solution of a technical problem, the rendering of some effect of light, the defining of some physiognomy, or characteristic object. In a word, there is as much of the poet in them as of the painter.
1 Morelli, Die Galerien zu München und Dresden, p. 120 (with reproduction).--Among the most fervent of Leonardo's Milanese imitators was the painter and writer, Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo (born in Milan 1538, died about 1600). Lomazzo collected a large number of the master's works, pictures, drawings and manuscripts, from which he diligently sought inspiration. His sight failed him, however, while he was still a young man, and he then applied himself to literary labours, historical and theoretical, in which we find much precious information concerning the great founder of the Milanese school.