Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/205
Italy. He vied in wit with the poet Francesco Berni; he corresponded with Benedetto Varchi; and he exchanged poems with Luigi del Riccio and Donato Giannotti. People sought to hear his conversation, his profound observations on art, and his remarks on Dante, whom no one knew better than he. A Roman lady wrote that he was, when he liked, "a gentleman of elegant and seductive manners, so much so that there hardly existed his equal in Europe." The dialogues of Giannotti and Francis of Holland show his exquisite politeness and familiarity with society. One can even see from certain letters written to princes that he could easily have become a perfect courtier. The world never
who adored him. He had little sympathy for the majority of the artists of his period, and he did not hide his feelings. He was on very bad terms with Leonardo da Vinci, Perugino, Francia, Signorelli, Raphael, Bramante, San Gallo. "Cursed be the day on which you ever spoke well of any one!" wrote Jacopo Sansovino to him on June 30, 1517. This did not prevent Michael Angelo being of service to Sansovino later (in 1524) and to many others. But his genius was of too passionate a nature to love any other ideal than his own, and he was too sincere to pretend to love that for which he did not care. However, he showed great courtesy to Titian on the occasion of his visit to Rome in 1545. To the society of artists, who were generally lacking in culture, he preferred that of writers and men of action.
- They exchanged friendly and burlesque epistles ("Poems," lvii and clxxii). Berni addresses a magnificent eulogy to Michael Angelo in his "Capitolo a fra Sebastiano del Piombo." He says "that he was the Idea itself of sculpture and architecture, just as Astraea was the Idea of justice, wholly beautiful and wholly intelligent." He called him a second Plato, and, addressing other poets, uttered this admirable and often quoted phrase: "Silence, harmonious instruments! You speak words, he alone says things ("Ei dice cose, e voi dite parole").
- Dona Argentina Malaspina, in 1516.
- Especially his letter to Francis I., April 26, 1546.