Page:The Life of Michael Angelo.djvu/64

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34
THE LIFE OF MICHAEL ANGELO

Such were the two men whom the gonfaloniere Soderini set in opposition over a common work: the decoration of the Council Chamber of the Palace of the Seigniory. A singular combat this between the two greatest forces of the Renaissance! In May 1504 Leonardo began his cartoon of the "Battle of Anghiari."[1] In August 1504 Michael Angelo received a commission for the cartoon of the "Battle of Cascina."[2] Florence was divided into two camps. Time has equalised everything—both works have disappeared.[3]


In March 1505 Michael Angelo was summoned to Rome by Julius II. Then began the heroic period of his life.

Both of them violent and majestic, the Pope and the artist were made to agree, when they did not violently

  1. They imposed upon him the humiliation of representing a victory of the Florentines over his friends the Milancse.
  2. Or the "War of Pisa."
  3. Michael Angelo's cartoon, the only one completed in 1505, disappeared in 1512, on the occasion of the riots which arose in Florence through the return of the Medicis. The work is now known only by means of fragmentary copies, the most famous of these being Marc Antonio's engraving, "The Climbers." As to Leonardo's fresco, the painter himself destroyed it. Wishing to perfect the technique of the fresco, he experimented with a plaster which had oil as its basis, and which failed to last; and thus the painting, which, in his discouragement, he abandoned in 1506, no longer existed in 1550.
    To this period of Michael Angelo's life (1501-1505) also belong the two circular bas-reliefs of the "Madonna and the Child," which are at the Royal Academy in London and at the Bargello Gallery in Florence; the "Madonna of Bruges," purchased in 1506 by Flemish merchants; and the large picture in distemper of the "Holy Family" in the Uffizi, the finest and most carefully finished of Michael Angelo's works. Its Puritanical austerity and heroic accent is a striking contrast to the effeminate languor of the art of Leonardo.