The Life of Michael Angelo/Faith
Signior mie caro, i' te sol chiamo e 'nvoco
His desire, after the death of Vittoria, would have been to return to Florence, "to lay his weary bones at rest by the side of his father." But after having served the Popes all his life he wished to devote his last years to the service of God. Perhaps he had been urged towards this by his friend and was carrying out one of her last wishes. On January 1, 1547, one month before the death of Vittoria Colonna, Michael Angelo had, in fact, been appointed, by a brief of Paul III., prefect and architect of St. Peter's, with full powers to erect the building. It was not without difficulty that he could be got to accept the post; and it was not the earnest entreaties of the Pope which made him decide to take upon his septuagenarian shoulders the heaviest load which he had yet borne. He saw in it a duty—a mission from God.
"Many think—and I myself think—that I have been placed in this post by God," he wrote. "Old though I am, I do not wish to abandon it, for I serve through love of God and place all my hopes in Him.”
He did not accept any payment for this sacred task.
He found himself engaged in a struggle with numerous enemies: “the faction of San Gallo," as Vasari calls them, and with all the administrators, tradesmen and contractors of the building, whose frauds—to which San Gallo had always closed his eyes—he denounced. "Michael Angelo," says Vasari, delivered St. Peter from thieves and robbers."
A coalition was formed against him, headed by the impudent Nanni di Baccio Bigio, an architect whom Vasari accuses of having robbed Michael Angelo, and who aspired to supplant him. They spread about the rumour that Michael Angelo knew nothing of architecture; that he was wasting money and merely destroying the work of his predecessor. The committee in charge of the administration of the building, itself taking part against its architect, instituted, in 1551, a solemn inquiry, presided over by the Pope. Inspectors and workmen, supported by Cardinals Salviati and Cervini, came and gave evidence against Michael Angelo. But the artist hardly deigned to justify himself—he refused all discussion. "I am not obliged," he said to Cardinal Cervini, "to communicate either to you or to any one that which I ought or wish to do. Your business is to look after the expenses. The remainder is my affair." Never would his intractable pride allow him to communicate his plans to any one. To his workmen who complained he replied: "Your business is to build, to hew, to do joiner's work, and to carry out my orders. As to knowing what is in my mind, that you will never learn, for it would be against my dignity to tell you."
Against this hatred, aroused by such proceedings, he could not have resisted for a moment without the favour of the Popes. Consequently, when Julius III. died and Cardinal Cervini became Pope, Michael Angelo was on the point of leaving Rome. But Marcellus remained only a few days on the throne and was succeeded by Paul IV. Again assured of the papal protection, Michael Angelo continued to struggle. He would have considered himself dishonoured and would have feared for his salvation had he abandoned his work.
"It was placed in my hands against my wishes," he said. "For eight years, in the midst of all sorts of worries and troubles, have I been exhausting myself in vain. Now that the building is sufficiently advanced to enable them to cover the cupola with a vault, my departure from Rome would be the ruin of the work, a great affront to myself, and a very great sin on my soul."His enemies refused to lay down their arms, and at one time the struggle assumed a tragic character. In 1563 Michael Angelo's most devoted assistant, Pier Luigi Gaeta, was thrown into prison on a false charge of theft; and the clerk of the works, Cesare da Casteldurante, was stabbed. Michael Angelo replied by appointing Gaeta in Cesare's place. The committee dismissed Gaeta and appointed Michael Angelo's enemy, Nanni di Baccio Bigio. The artist, beside himself with anger, came no longer to St. Peter's. They spread the rumour that he had resigned, and the committee appointed as his substitute Nanni, who immediately began to assume the rôle of master. He counted on tiring out the old man of eighty-eight—sick and dying as he was. But he did not know his adversary. Michael Angelo at once went to the Pope and threatened to leave Rome unless justice were shown him. Insisting on a fresh inquiry, he convicted Nanni
ORIGINAL MODEL (IN WOOD) OF THE DOME OF ST. PETER'S
In the Vatican
Do not let us pity him. He well knew how to defend himself. Even when dying he was able, single-handed, as he formerly said to his brother Giovan Simone, "to tear in pieces ten thousand such men."
Apart from his great work at St. Peter's, other architectural projects occupied him during the closing years of his life—the Capitol, the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, the staircase of the "Laurcnziana" of Florence, the Porta Pia, and especially the Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini—the last of his great plans, and which, like the others, came to nothing.
The Florentines had begged him to build them a national church in Rome: Duke Cosimo himself had written him a flattering letter on the subject; and Michael Angelo, supported by his love for Florence, undertook the work with juvenile enthusiasm. He told his compatriots "that if they carried out his plan they would have a building such as neither the Romans nor the Greeks had ever equalled; words," says Vasari, "such as never left his mouth either before or afterwards, for he was extremely modest." The Florentines accepted the plan without changing it in anything. One of Michael Angelo's friends, Tiberio Calcagni, made, under his superintendence, a wooden model of the church, " which was so rare a work of art that, for beauty, richness and variety such a building had never been seen before. Building was commenced and 5000 crowns were expended. Then money was lacking, work was stopped, and Michael Angelo experienced the most violent sorrow." This church was never built and even the model disappeared.Such was Michael Angelo's last artistic disappointment. How could he have had the illusion, when dying, that St. Peter's, hardly commenced, would ever be completed, that any of his works would survive him? Perhaps he himself, had he been free, would have shattered them. The story of his last piece of sculpture, "Christ taken down from the Cross," in the Cathedral in Florence, shows to what a state of detachment from art he had attained. If he still continued his work as a sculptor, he was no longer prompted by faith in art, but by faith in Christ, and because "his mind and his strength could not resist the temptation to create." But when he had completed his work he broke it. "He would have destroyed it altogether had not his servant, Antonio, begged him to give it to him."
THE DESCENT FROM THE CROSS (Unfinished)
From the group in the Cathedral, Florence
Since the death of Vittoria no great affection brightened up his life. Love had fled.
Fiamma d'amor nel cor non m' è rimasa;
He had lost his brothers and his best friends. Luigi del Riccio had died in 1546, Sebastiano del Piombo in 1547, his brother Giovan Simone in 1548. He had never been in very close relations with his youngest brother, Sigismondo, who died in 1555. His familiar and crabbed affection he had centred on his orphan niece and nephew, the children of Buonarroto, the brother whom he loved the most. The girl's name was Cecca (Francesca), the boy's Leonardo. Michael Angelo placed Cecca in a convent, gave her a trousseau, paid for her board and lodging, and, when she married, gave her one of his possessions as a dowry. He personally looked after the education of Leonardo, who was nine years of age at the death of his father. A long correspondence, which often recalls that between Beethoven and his nephew, bears witness to the seriousness with which he fulfilled his paternal mission. It was interspersed with frequent fits of anger. Leonardo often sorely tried his uncle's patience; and his patience was far from great. The boy's bad handwriting was sufficient to exasperate Michael Angelo, who considered this to be a lack of respect towards him.
"I never receive a letter from you without being thrown into a fever before I can read it. I am at a loss to know where you learnt how to write! Little love here! . . . I believe that if you had to write to the biggest ass in the world you would take greater care. . . . I threw your last letter into the fire, because I could not read it. I cannot, therefore, reply. I have already told you, and constantly repeated, that every time I get a letter from you fever attacks me before I succeed in reading it. Once for all, write to me no more in the future. If you have anything to say to me, find some one who knows how to write, for I need my head for something else than to exhaust myself in deciphering your incomprehensible nonsense." 
Naturally distrustful, and rendered still more suspicious through the vexations which his brothers caused him, he was not greatly deceived as regards his nephew's humble and fawning affection, which seemed to him to be addressed above all to his money-chest, to which the little boy knew he was to succeed. Michael Angelo did not hesitate to tell him so. On one occasion, being ill and in danger of death, he learnt that Leonardo had hastened to Rome and made some indiscreet inquiries. Furious, he wrote the following lines to him:
"Leonardo! I have been ill, and you rushed to Ser Giovan Francesco's to see if I had left anything. Haven't you enough of my money at Florence? You cannot belie your family and avoid resembling your father, who drove me from my own house in Florence! Know that I have made a will in such a manner that you have nothing to expect from me. Go then with God; let my eyes see you no more, and never write to me again!"
These outbursts of anger had little effect on Leonardo, for they were generally followed by affectionate letters and presents. A year later he again rushed to Rome, attracted by a promise of a gift of 3000 crowns. Michael Angelo, hurt by this interested haste, wrote to him as follows:
"You have come to Rome in furious haste. I do not know whether you would have come so quickly had I been in poverty and in need of bread! . . . You say that it was your duty to come, through love of me! Yes! the love of a wood-worm. Had you loved me, you would have written: 'Michael Angelo, keep the 3000 crowns and spend them on yourself; for you have given so many to us that that is sufficient. Your life is dearer to us than money. …' But for the past forty years you have lived on me, and never have I received from you even a good word. …"
A serious question was that of Leonardo's marriage. It occupied the uncle and the nephew for six years. The docile Leonardo treated the uncle with money to leave with the utmost deference. He accepted all his observations and left him to choose, discuss and reject the ladies who offered themselves: he seemed to be indifferent. Michael Angelo, on the contrary, took a passionate interest in the matter, every bit as much as though it was he who was going to marry. He regarded the marriage as a serious affair, in which love was the least important point. Nor did money weigh much more in the balance. That which counted was health and honourability. He gave his nephew some very austere advice, devoid of poetry—robust and positive counsels.
"It is a grave decision. Recollect that between man and woman there should always be a difference in age of ten years; and make sure that she whom you choose is not only good but healthy. …Several persons have been mentioned to me. One pleased me, the other not. If you think of it, write to me, in case you like one better than the other. I will give you my opinion. … You are free to have one or the other, provided that she is of noble birth and well educated, and rather without a dowry than a large one—in order to live in peace. … A Florentine has told me that you have been spoken to about a daughter of the Ginori family, and that she pleases you. I do not care for you to take as a wife a girl whose father would not give her to you if he had sufficient to settle a suitable dowry upon her. I desire that he who gives you a wife gives her to you and not to your fortune. … All you have got to take into consideration is the health of her soul and body, the quality of her blood and morals, and, in addition, who her parents are, for that is of great importance. … Take the trouble to find a woman who will not be ashamed of washing the dishes, in case of necessity, and of looking after household matters. … As to beauty, since you are not exactly the handsomest young man in Florence, do not trouble yourself about it, provided that she is not a cripple, or repulsive. …"
After much searching, it looked as though they had found the rara avis. But at the last moment the lady was found to have a redhibitory defect.
"I learn that she is short-sighted, which appears to me to be no small defect. Consequently I have promised nothing yet. Since you also have promised nothing, my advice is: liberate yourself, if you are certain of the thing."
Leonardo grew discouraged. He expressed astonishment at his uncle's insistence in wishing to get him married.
"It is true that I desire it," replied Michael Angelo. "This marriage is good, in order to prevent our family finishing with us. I know very well that if that happened the world would not receive a shock; but every animal strives to preserve its species. And that is why I want you to marry."
At last Michael Angelo himself got tired; he began to find that it was ridiculous that it was always he who occupied himself over Leonardo's marriage, whilst his nephew appeared to take no interest in it. So he declared that he would have nothing more to do with it.
"For the past sixty years I have occupied myself with your business. I am old now and must think of my own."
At that very moment he heard that his nephew had just become engaged to Cassandra Ridolfi. Michael Angelo rejoiced, congratulated him and promised him a dowry of 1500 ducats. Leonardo married. Michael Angelo sent his good wishes to the newly-married couple and promised Cassandra a pearl necklace. Still, joy did not prevent him warning his nephew that, "although he did not know much about these things, it seemed to him that Leonardo ought to have settled very exactly all money questions before leading the wife to his house, for there was ever the germ of disunion in these questions." He ended his letter with this jovial recommendation: "And now try to live, remembering well that the number of widows is always greater than that of widowers."
Two months later he sent to Cassandra, instead of the promised necklace, two rings—one set with a diamond, the other with a ruby. To thank him, Cassandra made him a present of eight shirts. Michael Angelo wrote in reply:
"They are beautiful, especially the material, and they please me greatly. But I am sorry that you have gone to this expense, for I had everything I needed. Give my best thanks to Cassandra and tell her that I am at her disposal to send anything in the way of Roman or other articles I may find here. This time I have sent only a little thing; another time we will do better, with some object which will give her pleasure. Only tell me."
Soon children were born. The first was called Buonarroto, at the request of Michael Angelo; the second (who died shortly after birth) Michael Angelo. And the old uncle who invited the young couple to visit him in Rome in 1556 never ceased affectionately to take part in the joys as well as in the troubles of the family, but without ever allowing them to occupy themselves either with his affairs or even with his health.
Outside family relations Michael Angelo did not lack illustrious or distinguished friends. Notwithstanding his , it would be quite wrong to represent him as a peasant of the Danube, after the fashion of Beethoven. He was an Italian aristocrat, highly cultured and of pure race. From the days of his youth, spent in the gardens of San Marco, in the service of Lorenzo the Magnificent, he remained in relations with the noblest of the great lords, princes, prelates, writers and artists of 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 fled from him: he it was who kept it at a distance, and, had he liked, a triumphal life could have been his. To Italy he was the incarnation of its genius. At the end of his career, the last survivor of the great Renaissance, he personified it—he alone was a whole century of glory. Artists were not the only people who regarded him as a supernatural being. Princes bowed before him. Francis I. and Catherine de' Medici rendered him homage. Cosimo de' Medici wished to make him a senator; and when he came to Rome treated him as an equal, made him sit by his side, and conversed with him confidentially. Cosimo's son, Don Francesco de' Medici, received him with berretta in hand, "showing a boundless respect for so rare a man." They honoured "his great virtue" no less than his genius. His old age was surrounded by as much glory as that of Goethe or Hugo. But he was a man of another metal. He had neither the former's thirst for popularity, nor the latter's middle-class respect—so free though he was—for the world and established order. He despised glory, he despised the world; and though he served the Popes, "it was under compulsion." Moreover, he did not hide the fact that "even the Popes wearied and sometimes annoyed him by talking to him and sending for him," and, "notwithstanding their order, he neglected to go, when he was not disposed to do so."
"When a man is so formed by nature and education that he hates ceremonies and despises hypocrisy it is senseless not to let him live as he likes. If he asks you for nothing and does not seek your society, why do you seek his? Why do you wish to lower him to these trifles, which are incompatible with his retirement from the world? He who thinks of pleasing imbeciles rather than his genius is not a superior man."
His relations with the world were, therefore, either wholly indispensable ones or those which were purely intellectual. He admitted no one to his fellowship; and popes, princes, men of letters and artists had little place in his life. Even with the small number of these for whom he felt real sympathy it was rare that he established a durable friendship. He loved his friends and was generous towards them; but his violence, pride and suspicion often turned those whom he had obliged the most into deadly enemies. One day he wrote this beautiful, sad letter:
"The poor ungrateful man is so fashioned by nature that if, in his distress, you come to his assistance he will say that it was he himself who advanced you what you gave him. If you give him work, in order to show your interest in him, he will pretend that you were obhged to entrust him with it, because you knew nothing about it. In the case of all the benefits which he receives he will say that the benefactor was obliged to grant them. And if the favours received are so evident that it is impossible to deny them, then the ungrateful fellow waits until he from whom he has received good falls into manifest error; then he has a pretext for saying ill of him and liberating himself from any acknowledgment. Thus have I ever been treated, and yet not an artist has applied to me without my having aided him, and with all my heart. And then they seize upon my odd humour or the madness with which they allege I am affected, and which harms no one but myself, as a pretext for speaking ill of me; and they insult me. This is the fate of all who do good."
In his own house he had fairly devoted but generally mediocre assistants. He was suspected of choosing mediocre workers designedly, in order that they would be but docile instruments and not collaborators, which, besides, would have been legitimate. But, says Condivi, "it was not true, as many reproachfully said, that he would not give instruction. On the contrary, he did so willingly. Unfortunately, Fate ordained that he should place his hands either on men who showed little capacity or on others who were capable but lacking in perseverance—assistants who, after a few weeks of his teaching, considered that they were already masters."
It is certain, moreover, that the first quality which he required his assistants to show was absolute submission. He was as merciless against those who affected a haughty independence as he was full of indulgence and generosity to modest and faithful disciples. Lazy Urbano, "who would not work"—and who was right, for when he did work it was to spoil, irremediably, through carelessness, the "Christ" of the Minerva—was, during an illness, the object of his paternal care. He said that Michael Angelo was as "dear as the best father." Piero di Giannoto was "loved like a son." Silvio di Giovanni Cepparello, who left him to enter the service of Andrea Doria, was disconsolate and begged to be taken back. The touching story of Antonio Mini is an example of Michael Angelo's generosity towards his assistants. Mini, the one among his disciples who, according to Vasari, "was willing but had no aptitude," loved the daughter of a poor widow of Florence. At the request of his parents, Michael Angelo removed him from Florence. Antonio wished to go to France. Michael Angelo made him a royal gift: "All the drawings, all the cartoons, the painting of 'Leda,' and all the models which he had made for that work, whether in wax or in clay." Possessed of this fortune, Antonio set out. But the ill-luck which affected the projects of Michael Angelo pursued those of his humbler friend still more relentlessly. Antonio went to Paris, but Francis I. was absent. So he left the "Leda" in the charge of one of his Italian friends; Giuliano Buonaccorsi, and returned to Lyons, where he had settled down. On returning to Paris a few months later he found that the "Leda" had disappeared; Buonaccorsi had sold it, to his own profit, to Francis. Antonio, wild with grief, without resources, incapable of defending himself, and lost in the foreign city, died of sorrow at the end of 1533.
But, of all his assistants, the one whom Michael Angelo loved the most, and to whom his affection assured immortality, was Francesco d'Amadore, surnamed Urbino, of Castel Durante. He was in Michael Angelo's service from 1530 and worked under his orders on the mausoleum of Julius II. Michael Angelo was anxious as to what would become of him after he had gone.
"'What will you do if I die?' he once said to him.
"'Serve another,' replied Urbino.
"'Poor fellow!' said his master, 'I will protect you from want,' and he gave him 2000 crowns at one time—a present such as only an emperor or a pope could have made."
Urbino was the first to die. The day after his death Michael Angelo wrote to his nephew:
"Urbino died at four o'clock yesterday afternoon. He has left me so afflicted and so troubled that it would have been easier to die with him, because of the love I bore him. And well did he merit that love. For he was a worthy, loyal and faithful man. His death seems to have taken all life out of me, and I cannot recover my tranquillity."
His sorrow was so profound that three months afterwards he wrote this celebrated letter to Vasari:
"Messer Giorgio, my dear Friend,—
"I find it hard to write, but, in answer to your letter, I must send you a few hues. You know that Urbino is dead, to my great loss and unspeakable grief, for he was a great favour from God to me. The favour is that whereas when living he kept me alive, in dying he has taught me not to fear death, but to desire it. I had him twenty-six years, and ever found him devoted and faithful. I made him rich, and hoped for his support in my old age, but he has been taken away, and I can only hope to see him again in Paradise, where God, by the very happy death which He granted him, has shown he must be. He was more grieved for leaving me a prey to the vexations of the world than at death itself. The better part of me has gone with him, and nothing is left to me but infinite sorrow." 
In his confusion he begged his nephew to come to see him in Rome. Leonardo and Cassandra, uneasy over his sorrow, came and found him in a very weak state. But he gained fresh strength in the obligation which Urbino had imposed upon him—that of undertaking the guardianship of his sons, one of whom was his godson and bore his name.
He made other friendships—strange ones. Through a desire for reaction (so strong in the case of men of robust nature) against all the constraints imposed by society, he loved to surround himself with simple-minded men, who were given to uttering unexpected flashes of wit and had free manners—men who were not made like all the world. There was Topolino, a stonecutter of Carrara, "who thought himself a good sculptor, and who never loaded a boat for Rome without sending three or four little figures of his own, at which Michael Angelo died of laughing."  Menighella, a clumsy painter of Valdarno, was another. "He came to see Michael Angelo from time to time and got him to draw St. Roch or St. Anthony to paint and sell to the peasants. Michael Angelo, whom it was hard to persuade to work for kings, put aside everything to make simple designs suitable to his friend's style and requirements as Menighella said. Among other things he did a model of a Crucifix of great beauty." For a barber, who dabbled in painting, he designed a cartoon representing the "Stigmatisation of St. Francis." Other friends of his were: one of his
In the Sistine Chapel
"Giuliano possessed a natural kindness, a simple manner of living, without either wickedness or envy, which greatly pleased Michael Angelo, His only fault was a too great love for his own works. But Michael Angelo used to consider him happy, because he was contented with his knowledge, whereas he himself was never fully satisfied with his own works. ... On one occasion, Messer Ottaviano de' Medici asked Giuliano to paint Michael Angelo's portrait. Giuliano set to work, and, after keeping Michael Angelo seated for two hours, without speaking a word, said to him: 'Michael Angelo, come and see how I have caught your expression.' Michael Angelo rose, and looking at the portrait, said, laughing: 'What the devil have you done? You have put one eye on my temple—look here a moment.' At these words Giuliano was beside himself. Looking several times at the portrait and his model, alternately, he boldly replied: 'I do not notice it, but sit down and I will correct it, if need be.' Michael Angelo, who knew how the effect had arisen, sat down, smiling, in front of Giuliano, who, after
looking at him and his picture several times, rose and said: 'It seems to me that the eye is as I have drawn it, and nature shows it thus.' 'Well, then,' responded Michael Angelo laughing, 'it is a fault of nature. Continue and don't spare the colour.' "
So much indulgence, which Michael Angelo was not accustomed to show to other men, but which he lavished on these insignificant beings, does not imply less of that bantering humour which makes merry over human stupidities than of affectionate pity for these poor wretches who imagined themselves to be great artists, and who, perhaps, inspired meditation on his own folly—composite of a good deal of melancholic and farcical irony.
- "Poems," cxxiii.
- Letter from Michael Angelo to Vasari (September 19, 1552).
- Letter from Michael Angelo to his nephew Leonardo (July 7, 1557).
- The person here in question is Antonio da San Gallo, Architect in Chief of St. Peter’s from 1537 to the time of his death in October 1546. He had always been the enemy of Michael Angelo, who treated him without consideration. They were opposed to each other over the Borgo fortifications (the Vatican quarter), the plans for which by San Gallo were set aside through Michael Angelo in 1545, and also during the building of the Farnese Palace, which San Gallo had built up to the second floor, but which Michael Angelo completed, after imposing his model for the cornice in 1549 and eliminating his rival’s project (see Thode’s "Michael Angelo").
- The future Pope Marcel II.
- At the end of the inquiry of 1551, Michael Angelo, turning towards Julius III. who was presiding, said: "Holy Father, you see what profit I have; for if these labours do not benefit my soul, I am losing my time and trouble." The Pope, who loved him, laid his hands on his shoulders, and said: "Do not doubt that you will gain both in soul and body. Be without fear!" (Vasari).
- Paul III. died on November 10, 1549, and Julius III., who, like him, was fond of Michael Angelo, reigned from February 8, 1550, to March 23, 1555. Cardinal Cervini was elected Pope on April 9, 1555, under the name of Marcellus II. But he reigned only a few days and was succeeded, on May 23, 1555, by Caraffa, Paul IV.
- Letter from Michael Angelo to Leonardo (May 11, 1555). However, affected by the criticisms of his own friends, he demanded in 1560 "to be relieved of the burden which, by order of the Pope, he had been bearing gratuitously for seventeen years." But his resignation was not accepted, and Pius IV., by a brief, renewed his appointment. It was then that, on the earnest entreaty of Cavalieri, he at last determined to execute the wooden model of the cupola. Up to then he had retained all his plans in his head, and refused to communicate them to any one.
- All the same, Nanni, on the day after Michael Angelo's death, begged Duke Cosimo to give him Michael Angelo's post at St. Peter's.
- Michael Angelo lived to see the construction of only the stair-cases and the square. The buildings of the Capitol were not completed until the seventeenth century.
- Nothing now remains of Michael Angelo's Church. It was entirely rebuilt in the eighteenth century.
- Michael Angelo's model was executed in stone, and not in wood, as he had wished.
- In 1559-1560.
- Vasari. It was in 1553 that he began this work, the most touching of all his works, for it is the most intimate. "We feel on looking at it that the artist speaks only for himself; he suffers and abandons himself to his suffering. Moreover, he has, it appears, represented himself in the old man with sorrowful face who supports the body of Christ.
- In 1555.
- Tiberio Calcagni bought it from Antonio, and asked Michael Angelo's permission to repair it. Michael Angelo consented, and Calcagni put the group together again. But he died and the work remained unfinished.
- "The flame of love remains not in my heart. The worst evil (old age) always drives away the lesser. I have clipped the wings of the soul" ("Poems," lxxxi, about 1550). However, a few poems, which appear to date from his extreme old age, show that the flame had not died down so low as he thought, and that "old burnt wood," as he expressed it, sometimes caught fire again. (See Appendix, xxi. "Poems," cx. and cxix.)
- She married Michele di Niccolo Guicciardini in 1538.
- A property at Pozzolatico.
- This correspondence began in 1540.
- ". . . stare a spasimare intorno alle tue lettere" ("Letters," 1536-1548).
- Letter of July 11, 1544.
- Michael Angelo was the first to inform his nephew, during an illness in 1549, that he had mentioned him in his will. The will was as follows: "To Sigismondo and you I leave all I possess; in such a manner that my brother Sigismondo and you, my nephew, have equal rights, and neither can exercise authority over my possessions without the consent of the other."
- "L'amore del tarlo!"
- February 6, 1546. He adds: "It is true that, last year, I lectured you so much that you were ashamed and sent me a little cask of Trebbiano. Ah I that cost you dear!"
- From 1547 to 1553.
- And elsewhere: "You are not to look for money, but only for goodness and a good name.… You need a wife who will remain with you, and whom you can command—a woman who does not cause trouble and spends all her time at rejoicings and feasts, for where court is paid it is easy to become debauched ('diventar puttana'), especially when women are without children …" ("Letters," February 1, 1549).
- "… 'Storpiata o schifa' …" ("Letters," 1547-1552).
- "Letters," December 19. 1551.
- He adds, however: "But if you do not feel healthy enough, then it is better for you to resign yourself to living without bringing other wretched beings into the world" ("Letters," June 24, 1552).
- May 16. 1553.
- "Letters," May 20, 1553
- The same, August 5, 1553.
- Born in 1554.
- Born in 1555.
- We must make a clear distinction between the periods of his life. In Michael Angelo's long career we find times when he lived in solitude, but also others when he had intercourse with friends. Thus, about 151 5, he was one of a little circle of Florentines at Rome—all open-minded and good-humoured men such as Domenico Buoninsegni, Leonardo Sellajo, Giovanni Spetiale, Bartolommeo Verazzano, Giovanni Gellesi, and Canigiani. A little later, under the pontificate of Clement VII., he belonged to the witty company of Francesco Berni and Fra Sebastiano del Piombo, the devoted but dangerous friend who informed Michael Angelo of all the rumours concerning him which were afloat, and who stirred up his enmity against the Raphael party. Above all, in the days of Vittoria Colonna, there was the circle of Luigi del Riccio, a Florentine merchant who advised him in his affairs and was his most intimate friend. He met at his house Donato Giannotti, the musician Archadelt, and the handsome Cecchino. They had a common love for poetry, music, and choice dishes. It was for Riccio, in despair over the death of Cecchino, that Michael Angelo wrote his forty-eight funereal epigrams; and Riccio, on the receipt of each epigram, sent to Michael Angelo trout, mushrooms, truffles, melons, doves, &c. (see Frey's edition of the "Poems," lxxiii). After Riccio's death, in 1546, Michael Angelo had disciples rather than friends, such as Vasari, Condivi, Daniello da Volterra, Bronzino, Leone Leoni, and Benvenuto Cellini. He inspired in them a passionate veneration; whilst he, for his part, regarded them with touching affection.
- Through his duties at the Vatican, no less than through the grandeur of his religious spirit, Michael Angelo was particularly in relations with the high dignitaries of the Church.
- It may be worthy of note, en passant, that Michael Angelo knew Machiavelli. A letter from Biagio Buonaccorsi to Machiavelli, dated September 6, 1508, informs him that he has sent him through Michael Angelo some money belonging to a woman whose name is not given.
- It was doubtless among artists that he had fewest friends, except at the end of his life, when he was surrounded by disciples 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.
- Condivi begins his "Life of Michael Angelo" as follows: "Since the hour when the Lord God, by His all-powerful Grace, judged me worthy not only of seeing Michael Angelo Buonarroti, the unique painter and sculptor—a privilege which I should hardly have dared to hope for—but of enjoying his conversations, affection, and confidence, I undertook, in recognition of such a favour, to collect together everything in his life which appeared to me to be worthy of praise and admiration, in order that the example of such a man might be useful to others."
- Francis I. in 1546; Catherine de' Medici in 1559. She wrote to him from Blois, "knowing, like the whole world, how superior he was to any one else of this century," to beg him to sculpture an equestrian statue of Henry II., or, at least, to make a drawing of it (November 14, 1559).
- In 1552, Michael Angelo did not reply, at which the Duke was hurt. When Benvenuto Cellini spoke about it to Michael Angelo he received a sarcastic reply.
- In November 1560.
- In October 1561.
- Vasari (on the subject of the reception which Cosimo gave Michael Angelo).
- Francis of Holland's "Conversations on Painting."
- Francis of Holland, loc. cit.
- To Piero Gondi, January 26, 1524.
- Vasari describes Michael Angelo's assistants as follows: "Piero Urbano of Pistoia possessed intelligence, but would never take pains, while Antonio Mini, though willing, had not the aptitude, for hard wax does not take a good impression. Ascanio della Ripa Transone worked hard, but never realised anything in works or designs …"
- Michael Angelo grew anxious over his slightest ailments. He took an interest in a cut which Urbano had made on his finger. He saw that he carried out his religious duties. "Go to confession," he said, "work well, look after the house …" ("Letters," March 29, 1518).
- There had already been a question of Antonio Mini going to France, but with Michael Angelo, after his flight from Florence in 1529.
- The picture painted during the siege for the Duke of Ferrara, but which he refused to give to him because the Duke's ambassador had shown a lack of respect for him.
- In 1531.
- On December 3, 1555, a few days after the death of Michael Angelo's last brother, Sigismondo.
- February 23, 1556.
Michael Angelo concluded as follows: "I commend myself to you, and beg you to present my excuses to Messer Benvenuto (Cellini) if I do not reply to his letter. But these thoughts cause me so much sorrow that I am incapable of writing."
See also poem clxii: "Et piango et parlo del mio morto Urbino ..."
- To Cornelia, the wife of Urbino, he wrote letters full of affection, promising to take the little Michael Angelo into his house; "to show him more love than he showed to even the children of his nephew Leonardo, and to teach him all that Urbino had desired him to learn" (March 28, 1557). He did not pardon Cornelia for re-marrying in 1559.
- See Vasari for an account of his facetious ways.
- The same.
- Like almost all melancholy-souled men, Michael Angelo's humour was sometimes comic. He wrote burlesque poems after the manner of Berni. But his buffoonery was ever rugged and bordered on tragedy. For instance, see his mournful caricature of the infirmities of old age ("Poems," lxxxi), and his parody of a love poem (the same, xxxvii).