Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/95

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57
SHATTERED STRENGTH

new task, which it was materially impossible for him to accomplish without neglecting the old one, and which was to be the cause of endless worry to him. He tried to persuade himself that he could manage both the mausoleum of Julius II. and the façade of San Lorenzo at once. He counted on relieving himself of a good deal of the work by having an assistant, and himself executing only the principal statues. But, as usual, he gradually became interested in his plan, and soon could no longer suffer the idea of dividing the honour with another. Moreover, he feared that the Pope might withdraw it from him, so he begged Leo X. to bind him to this new chain.[1]

Naturally it became impossible for him to continue the mausoleum of Julius II. But the saddest part of the matter was that he did not succeed either in building the façade. Not content with refusing every collaborator, his terrible mania for wishing to do everything himself drove him, instead of remaining in Florence and working on his work, to go to Carrara to superintend the extraction of the blocks of marble. There he found himself face to face with all sorts of difficulties. The Medicis wished to utilise the quarries of Pietrasanta, recently acquired by Florence, in preference to those of Carrara. For having taken the part of the Carrarais, Michael Angelo was

  1. "I want to make this façade into a work which will be a mirror of architecture and sculpture for the whole of Italy. The Pope and the Cardinal (Julius de' Medici, the future Clement VII.) must decide quickly, if they wish me to do it, or not. And if they wish me to undertake the work, we must sign a contract . . . Messer Domenico, send me a definite reply on the subject of their intentions. That will give me the greatest joy." (To Domenico Buoninsegni, July 1517.)
    The contract was signed with Leo X. on January 19, 1518. Michael Angelo undertook to build the façade in eight years.