Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/103

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63
SHATTERED STRENGTH

around him was becoming gloomy. The Renaissance was declining. Rome was on the eve of being sacked by barbarians. The threatening shadow of a sad God was about to obscure the mind of Italy. Michael Angelo felt the tragic hour approaching, and suffered the keenest anguish.

After dragging Michael Angelo from the inextricable enterprise in which he had become involved, Clement VII. resolved to direct his genius into a new channel, in which he could closely superintend him. He entrusted him with the building of the Medici chapel and tombs.[1] His intention was to occupy his services exclusively. He even proposed that he should take Orders,[2] and offered him an ecclesiastical appointment. Michael Angelo refused. Nevertheless, Clement VII. paid him a monthly salary, three times as large as he had demanded, and presented him with a house in the neighbourhood of San Lorenzo.

Everything seemed to be progressing favourably and work on the chapel was in full swing when suddenly

  1. Work was begun in March 1521, but was not actively proceeded with until the appointment of Cardinal Julius de' Medici to the pontifical throne, under the title of Clement VII., on November 19, 1523. (Leo X. died on December 6, 1521, and from January 1522 to September 1523 was succeeded by Adrian VI.)

    The original plan included four tombs: those of Lorenzo the Magnificent, of his brother Julian, of his son Julian, Duke of Nemours, and of his grandson, Lorenzo, Duke of Urbino. In 1524 Clement VII. decided to add to them the sarcophagus of Leo X., and his own, reserving the place of honour for them. See Marcel Reymond's "L'Architecture des tombeaux des Medicis" (Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1907).

    At the same time Michael Angelo was commissioned to build the "Laurentian" library.

  2. There was a question of him joining the Franciscan Order. (Letter from Fattucci to Michael Angelo in the name of Clement VII., January 2, 1524.)