Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/63

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33
STRENGTH

he had entered the service, in 1502, of Caesar Borgia; but the end of the political career of that prince obliged him, in the following year, to return to Florence. There his ironical smile was to be observed side by side with the melancholy, feverish nature of Michael Angelo, and it exasperated the sculptor. Michael Angelo, absorbed in his passions and his faith, hated the enemies of his passions and his faith, but he hated much more those who were without passion and belonged to no faith at all. The greater Leonardo was the more Michael Angelo felt an aversion for him; and he let no opportunity slip of showing it.

"Leonardo was a handsome man with engaging and distinguished manners. One day he was sauntering with a friend in the streets of Florence. He was dressed in a pink tunic, reaching to his knees, and his well-curled, artistically arranged beard floated on his breast. Near Santa Trinità a group of citizens were discussing a passage in Dante. Calling Leonardo to them, they begged him to explain the meaning. At that moment Michael Angelo was passing. Leonardo said 'Michael Angelo here will explain the verses of which you speak.' Michael Angelo, thinking that he wished to laugh at him, replied bitterly: 'Explain them yourself, you who made the model of a bronze horse,[1] and who, incapable of casting it, left it unfinished — to your shame be it said!' Thereupon he turned his back on the group and continued on his way. Leonardo remained and reddened. And Michael Angelo, not yet satisfied and burning with a desire to hurt him, cried: 'And those thieves the Milanese who thought you capable of such a work!'"[2]

  1. An allusion to the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, which Leonardo left unfinished, and the plaster model of which the Gascon archers of Louis XII. used as a mark.
  2. Narrative of a contemporary.