WALKS IN FLORENCE: CHURCHES, STREETS AND PALACES
SUSAN AND JOANNA HORNER
Chapter XXVIII: Convent of Sta. Maria degli Angeli – Il Castellaccio – Cinque Lampade – Via Ricasoli – Via della Sapienza – Church of San Marco – Via Cavour – Marucelliana Library – Palazzo Riccardi – Palazzo Martelli – Palazzo Ginori
From the Innocenti, the Via dei Fibbiai, where lived Andrea del Castagno, leads to the Via degli Alfani. In this street was formerly one of the most considerable monasteries of Florence, known as the Sta. Maria degli Angeli: the roughly-hewn wall at the corner is the remains of an unfinished building designed by Brunelleschi, with the intention of enlarging the church; from its octagon form, resembling a fortress or castle, it has obtained the name of the Castellaccio, or the ugly castle. The monastery was founded about 1293 by a certain Fra Guittone, of Arezzo, assisted by Don Frediano, the prior of the Calmaldolese monastery in the Casentino.
Fra Guittone, of Arezzo, was one of the Gaudenti, or Jovial Friars, mentioned by Dante in his "Divina Commedia." Guittone was a poet, and first brought the Italian sonnet to perfection; he left behind him the earliest specimens of Italian letter-writing. One of his most celebrated letters was addressed to Florence, beginning, "O queen of cities, court of justice, school of wisdom, mirror of life, and mould of manners! whose sons were kings reigning in every land, or were above all others, who art no longer queen but servant, oppressed and subject to tribute! no longer court of justice, but cave of robbers, and school of all folly and madness, mirror of death and mould of felony," &c. &c.
Dante mentions Guittone in his "Purgatorio," where another poet, Buongiunta, of Lucca, addressed the author in these words: -
Ma di, s' io veggio quì colui, che fuoreDante apparently did not place a high value on Guittone's verses, or at any rate esteems him inferior to another poet, Guido Guinicelli, who is supposed to speak thus to the friar: -
Trasse le nuove rime, cominciando,
'Donne ch' avete intelletto d' amorè?'
Et io a lui: 'Io mi son un, che, quando
Amore spira, noto; et a quel modo
Che detta dentro, vo significando.'
'O Frate, issa veggio,' diss' egli, 'il nodo
Che 'l notaio,228 e Guittone, e me ritenne
Di quà del dolce stil nuovo, ch' i' odo.
Io veggio ben, come le vostre penne
Diretro al dittator sen vanno strette
Che delle nostre certo non avvenne;
E qual più a gradire oltre si mette,
Non vede più dall' uno all' altro stilo.'
E quasi contentato si tacette.229
Purgatorio, xxiv. 49.
Così fer molti antichi di Guittone;The spot chosen for Sta. Maria degli Angeli was outside the Porta a Balla, on the same ground of Cafagiolo – Campo di Faggio, Field of Beech – on which the Ss. Annunziata was first built, and the foundations were laid with great pomp and ceremony by the bishop, the gonfalonier, and other magistrates of Florence. The wealth of the monastery rapidly increased by donations in money and land. During the plague of 1348 all the monks perished, and a fresh supply were sent from the Hermitage of Calmaldoli, who soon gained a reputation for industry in embroidering priests' vestments, and in illuminating liturgies and choral books. Whilst the Ciompi riots were raging in the city, many Florentines brought their treasures for security to this monastery, but it was unhappily attacked and plundered by the mob. The enlargement of the church, for which Brunelleschi was employed, was commenced with funds bequeathed for that purpose by one Matteo degli Scolari in 1424; but the Government used the money for a war with Lucca, and the Castellaccio was left as a monument of their unfaithful discharge of a dying man's request. The Grand-Duke Cosimo I. proposed to turn it into a drawing academy, but changed his intention; the roof was allowed to fall in, and the work of Brunelleschi was left a ruin. It is now the studio of the sculptor Signor Pazzi, who composed the statue of Dante, which is in the centre of the Piazza di Sta. Croce, and who has just completed a fine statue of Savonarola.
Di grido, in grido, pur lui dando pregio
Fin che 'l ha vinto 'l ver con più persone.230
Purgatorio, xxvi. 124.
The pious lives of the monks of Sta. Maria degli Angeli induced Pope Boniface IX. To grant plenary indulgence to every person dwelling withing the precincts of the monastery; and the Florentine Republic cancelled all their debts. Early in the fourteenth century, a Neapolitan, Ambrogio Traversari, celebrated for his learning, was chosen General of the Order. Whilst yet a simple monk, he persuaded the prior to allow a new academy for the study of Greek and Latin to hold its meetings within their walls; and here Cosimo, after Pater Patriæ, and his brother Lorenzo, sons of Giovanni de' Medici, with Gino Capponi, Landini, Bernardo Pucci, and others, who afterwards became celebrated, received their education. When Pope Eugenius IV. came to Florence in 1435, Ambrogio was sent with several eminent citizens to meet him at Leghorn. Besides his reputation for learning, and as a reformer of morals within the monasteries, Ambrogio was known for his skill in music and embroidery.
Not long ago there was a beautiful group of Luca dell Robbia over the doorway leading to the former monastery, but this, with other works of art within the building, have been removed.231 A few frescos still remain; one by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio in the cloisters, and two Crucifixions by Andrea del Castagno; that by Castagno, in the first cloister, represents the Saviour life-size, between the Virgin and St. John; St. Benedict is next to the Virgin, and St. Romualdo by St. John; the Magdalene is at the foot of the cross. All this part of the building has been incorporated into the Hospital of Sta. Maria Nuova, and is partly used for lecture-rooms. Opposite Sta. Maria degli Angeli is the fine palace of the Counts della Porta, once Palazzo Giugni, to which family it had descended from the family Da Firenzuola. The palace was built after a design by Ammanati, upon the remains of the ancient Convent of Sta. Margherita, which was inhabited by Calmaldolese nuns. Between this and the Canto alla Catena, called so from the Alberti arms – the Fetters – on a house there, was one of the celebrated tiratoj of the Guild of Wool. At the corner of the Via del Castellaccio, leading into the Via de' Servi, is a tablet marking the dwelling of the sculptor Benedetto da Majano. In the Via de' Pucci, between the Via de' Servi and the Via Ricasoli, is the Palace of the Marchese Pucci, whose family contributed to the decorations of the Church of the SS. Annunziata; within the palace is a gallery of pictures including some good Botticellis, but difficult of access, since the Marchese has given strict orders to refuse admittance to all strangers. At the corner of the Via Ricasoli, formerly Cocomero, is a tabernacle before which hang five lamps, well known throughout Florence as the "Tabernacolo delle Cinque Lampade."232 In the house to which it is attached lived Andrea Tafi, the author of the miraculous picture of a Madonna and Child, contained within the tabernacle. Buffalmacco and Giotto were likewise inhabitants of this dwelling. The little palace adjoining was built by Buontalenti, and belonged to the Serguidi, the Secretary of the Grand-Duke Francis I. In the via Ricasoli, opposite the suppressed Convent of San Nicolò lived Donatello.
Returning the Piazza della SS. Annunziata, the large palace to the left of the Via dei Servi belongs to the Manelli family, who date their origin back to Roman times, and at whose expense the Ponte Vecchio was built; but their history belongs to the Oltr' Arno. In one of the houses under the arcade in the piazza, opposite the Innocenti, lived, until 1528, the painter Françesco Rustici. Here he entertained his companions at supper; and a story is related that on one occasion Andrea del Sarto brought hither a dish of sausages and jellies, built up to resemble the Baptistery, with quails in the midst, to represent the priests in the choir.
In the Via della Sapienza, adjoining the Monastery of the SS. Annunziata, a building was commenced, intended for a college to instruct youth in science and letters. The money for this purpose was provided by the will of Nicolò Uzzano, and the trust confided to the Consuls of the Mercanzia. But the college was never finished, and all that remains of Uzzano's bequest is the name Sapienza given to the street, and his arms on the outer walls of the monastery. The incomplete building was used by the Grand-Duke Cosimo I., partly to contain the lions of the State, partly as a stable for his horses. The opposite side of the street is now chiefly occupied by sculptors who have their studios here, and of whom Dupré, who executed the principal statues and reliefs for the façade of Sta. Croce, is the most remarkable.
The corner house of the Piazza di San Marco is the Accademia delle Belle Arti, which contains the finest collection of pictures by the early masters, and has also lecture rooms for the professors of the Florentine University. The building was originally the Hospital of St. Matthew, founded by one Lemmo, who confided the care of it to the Consuls of the Guild of Merchants of Exchange, "del Cambio," to which he himself belonged, and of which St. Matthew was the patron saint. The arms of Lemmo and of the Guild of Exchange still remain on the walls, and a fresco within one of the rooms, by Andrea del Sarto, commemorates the ward for sick women. Leopold I. converted this hospital into the Academy of Fine Arts.
A row of low houses once occupied the side of the piazza facing the church, one of which was inhabited by the beautiful Bianca Cappello, when she fled hither with her husband from Venice; and here she was first seen by the Grand-Duke Francis I. – an event which led to the murder of Bonaventura, and to his widow becoming Grand-Duchess of Tuscany. On the western side was the Nunnery of Sta. Caterina, divided by the Via degli Arazzieri, now demolished for a Government building, and beyond it, towards the north, was the Giardino Medici di San Marco, where Lorenzo the Magnificent instituted a school or academy for young painters and sculptors. The place was sacked in 1494, when Piero de' Medici was driven from Florence, but restored to its original purpose by Giuliano de' Medici in 1512. Under Cosimo I. the funds for its support were withdrawn, but it was again restored by Prince Antonio, the supposed son of Duke Francis I. and Bianca Cappello; here he was allowed, by the succeeding Grand-Duke Ferdinand I., to end his days unmolested. Ottaviano de' Medici, the ancestor of the Neapolitan branch of the Medici, occupied the Palace at one time, and bestowed a part of it on the Scalzi, or Barefooted Friars, for whom Andrea del Sarto painted the frescos in the cloister.
The Via Larga, or Cavour, extending from the walls to the Via Martelli, or Piazza del Duomo, is a wide street of palaces. Near where once stood the Convent of sta. Caterina, were the houses of the Marucelli family, one of which contains the Public Library. Seven members of this family filled the office of Priors of the Republic, and Françesco Marucelli, an accomplished scholar, who died in 1703, bequeathed his valuable library to his native city. The number of volumes on all subjects is now nearly twelve thousand, arranged partly in rooms on the ground-floor, partly on the first floor of the palace. The governors propose to confine this library as much as possible to subjects relating to Art, and to increase the collection of engravings, which is very meagre compared with the Uffizi, or with other public collections in Europe, for the present collection hardly exceeds six thousand. One of the most interesting volumes here contains the portraits of the first members of the Accademia del Cimento, drawn in crayon by Il Padovannino, an artist of the Venetian School, who was famous for his accurate likenesses; he was born in 1562, and died in 1617. This little volume contains upwards of twenty portraits, beginning with the painters; the sculptors follow, next the poets, and lastly the philosophers. The most remarkable are – Annibale and Agostino Caracci, Michael Angelo da Caravaggio, Guercino, Cesare d' Arpino, Simon Vouet, and Galileo Galilei, which last seems to convey a far more lifelike, and therefore truer idea of the man, than the portraits of him in oil. The forehead is singularly high; the small blue eyes are full of animation, and, though the features are coarse, there is nobility and dignity of soul in the calm serious expression of the great philosopher.
A copy of Dante, printed in Florence in 1481, by Lorenzo della Magna, and illustrated by Botticelli, is the most perfect extant, except that in the Riccardiana Library; eighteen of the twenty illustrations are to be found in this volume.
A folio volume contains specimens of various early masters of engraving, beginning with nielli, or impressions made from engravings on a silver plate. There does not, however, appear to be any examples of the inventor of this art, Maso Finiguerra; they are chiefly by Peregrini and Da Cesena, or Da Cesio, of the sixteenth century, who also bears a high reputation; the Combat of Giants in a Forest, is a well-known engraving by Antonio Pollajuolo; several are by Robetta, one of which is the Visit of the Wise Men; another by the same artist, of a mother pointing to some object beyond the picture, whilst a pair of lovely children listen to her, is a charming composition full of nature and grace. Robetta was a Florentine engraver, born about 1460, of whom little is known except that he belonged to one of those numerous societies in Florence, the members of whom called themselves La Compagnia del Pajuolo – (stock pot), who supped by turns at one another's houses, bringing their own food. Andrea del Sarto belonged to this club, of which, from the anecdote related of Andrea's contribution to a supper at his house, Rustici was probably also an associate.233 The Calumny of Apelles, by an unknown engraver, with the names of the allegorical personages inscribed, throws light on Botticelli's composition in the Gallery of the Uffizi. There are several very fine specimens of the works of Andrea Mantegna; four dancing nymphs beautifully drawn, light and graceful in movement, and very lovely in features and expression; Judith with the Head of Holofernes is a magnificent composition. The rest of this volume contains principally German and French engravings.
Among the Florentine engravings are several from Michael Angelo's Last Judgment; a splendid copy of the great sculptor's group of Christ sinking between Nicodemus and Mary, which is behind the high altar of the Duomo, but which is reproduced here with a landscaped background; the Dream of Human Life, by Michael Angelo, of which the oil-painting is in the National Gallery of London; a portrait of Baccio Bandinelli, displaying some of his groups of sculpture. One volume contains engravings from the designs of Raffaelle, Michael Angelo, and Baccio Bandinelli, by the celebrated Venetian engraver, Agostino Musi, born 1490, and a pupil of Marc Antonio; among these engravings is one from Michael Angelo's celebrated cartoon, now lost, of Soldiers bathing; also a copy of the Apollo Belvedere, as it must have appeared before the restorations were added. The remainder in this volume are again German prints. Another contains engravings by a German named Kruger – 1576 – from the paintings of Andrea del Sarto.
The English school is only represented by Houbraken's illustrations of Birch's Lives.
Not far from the Marucelliana Library, at the corner of the Via Guelfa, is the house inhabited by Bernadetto de' Medici, the son of Ottaviano de' Medici, and brother of Pope Leo XI. He was a patron of art and letters.
At No. 37 in this street lived and died the modern poet Giovan Battista Niccolini. He was born in 1782, at a period when Tuscany, following the example of France, was attempting to introduce reforms into her administration, and when the Inquisition was at length abolished, and the instruments of torture publicly burned. Niccolini wa connected, by his mother's side, with Vincenzio Filicaia, whose Ode on Italy is read by every Italian scholar. Whilst studying at Pisa, in 1799, he became one of the most ardent advocates for a republic, but necessity obliged him to seek the means of gaining a livelihood, and he therefore could only take a passive interest in politics. In 1807 he was appointed Professor of history and Mythology in Florence, under the auspices of Elisa Buonaparte, Queen of Etruria, who was an enthusiastic admirer of all that belonged to ancient Greece. The subjects for his muse were taken from classical story, and elicited the warm eulogiums of Ugo Foscolo. His aim in all he wrote was to inspire his countrymen with the ancient spirit of freedom, to expose the impostures of priests, and the turpitude of princes. The "Foscarini" was acted at the theatre which now bears Niccolini's name, in the Via Ricasoli, then Cocomero, where it was received with enthusiasm, as well a throughout Italy; Niccolini's words, addressed to the foreigner, French and Austrian, "Repass the Alps and you will again become our brothers," were everywhere repeated. His most famous tragedy is "Arnaldo da Brescia," in which he reproduced Dante's idea that the temporal power of the pope was inconsistent with the office of a Christian bishop and head of the Church. Niccolini died on the 20th of September, 1861.
At the southern end of the Via Cavour is the Palazzo Riccardi, formerly Medici, one of the noblest structures in Florence. It was in 1430 that Cosimo il Vecchio, the Pater Patriæ, began this magnificent palace, after a design by Michelozzo Michelozzi. He chose the site near the Church of San Giovannino, then a little oratory built where once existed houses belonging to a great-uncle of Cosimo. The lower part of the palace consists of bold, roughly hewn stones, usual in Florentine architecture, which unites an appearance of solidity and strength with light and shadow, so essential to beauty under the glare of a southern sun. Above, is the equally characteristic broad and overhanging roof supported by brackets. The windows are extremely beautiful, arched, and with a column in the centre; they were designed by Michael Angelo, who added to those in the lower storey the grating with that peculiar projection outwards, which has been called inginnocchiata, or the kneeling. Iron rings are attached to the sides of the windows for the purpose of holding banners or for illuminations, whilst those below were for torches. The larger rings were used to tie the horses of visitors to the palace. In the corner is one of Nicolò Caparra's beautiful fanali, lanterns – inferior, however, to that on the Pazzi Palace. No sooner was the Medici Palace finished than the death of Cosimo's favourite son, Giovanni, plunged the owner into the deepest sorrow. The broken-hearted father caused himself to be carried through all the rooms, exclaiming that his home was now too large for his family.
When Charles VIII. of France visited Florence, he inhabited this palace; here also Giovanni de' Medici, the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, returned as Pope Leo X., accompanied by the Emperor Charles V. It was in this palace that Duke Alexander, the Moor, was murdered by his own cousin Lorenzino, and his successor, the Grand-Duke Cosimo I., caused the wing in which the murder was committed to be pulled down, when a lane called Del Traditore – the Traitor – connected the Via Cavour with the Via Ginori. This was afterwards blocked up by stables built by the Riccardi, who bought the palace in 1659 from the Grand-Duke Ferdinand II.; but the Riccardi were only allowed to build their stables here on condition that an empty space should be left above, where had been the room in which the ancestor of Ferdinand was assassinated, and that the public should be allowed a free passage across the court of the palace to Via Ginori. The sarcophagi around this court were the same which once stood outside the Baptistery, and the statues and other antiquities were collected by the Riccardi, and brought here in 1718. A rich library of rare works, collected by the Marchese Vincenzio Capponi, was brought to the Riccardi on the marriage of his daughter with one of that family. The library, with the palace, is now public property. In one room there is a ceiling gorgeous with carving and gilding; in another, a fine fresco by Luca Giordano, a Neapolitan painter, born in 1632, whose merits lay rather in a fertile invention, facile execution, brilliant colouring, than in taste or beauty of composition.
The greatest treasure of the palace is the old chapel painted in fresco by Benozzo Gozzoli, which, both from its excellent state of preservation and intrinsic merits, is one of the most valuable as well as interesting works of art in Florence.
Benozzo Gozzoli, born in 1400, was a pupil of Fra Angelico, and though he possessed a mind less exalted than his master, he had merits which entitle him to a high place in Art. He was most successful in landscape, and his compositions are varied, and display marvellous ingenuity in the arrangement of numerous figures. This chapel had originally no window, but was lighted by silver lamps.234 The altar-piece is supposed to have been the picture of the Madonna to whom angels bring the infant Christ, by Fra Filippo Lippi, now in the room of old masters in the Gallery of the Uffizi. On either side of the altar, Benozzo Gozzoli has painted angels worshipping; those nearest the altar kneel in natural and graceful attitudes; their heads are bent, their countenances absorbed in earnest devotion, and their hands are clasped in prayer or crossed on their bosoms; behind them, angels approach on foot, whilst others descend from the heavens, and nestle in the tall branches of the trees or gather roses in a lovely garden; birds of various kinds are introduced in these compositions. On the angles of the walls, within the chapel itself, are seen the shepherds leaving their flocks to follow the Star of Bethlehem; these are beautifully composed. The rest of the walls is covered with innumerable figures, who represent the visit of the Wise Men of the East, most of whom are portraits of distinguished men; that of Gozzoli himself and of other painters are introduced amidst the crowd of followers to the right of the altar; in the foreground are Cosimo Vecchio and his brother Lorenzo, the ancestors of the two branches of the House of Medici. The youth on horseback in front was probably intended for Lorenzo the Magnificent; the Emperor of the East faces the window, and in the corner, on the wall to the left is seen the grey-bearded head of the patriarch of the Greek Church. The second youth on horseback may possibly be a portrait of Giuliano, Lorenzo's brother; he has a hunting leopard seated behind him, and another held in a leash below. The landscape background is enlivened with groups of persons, as well as every description of animal, and in the distance are other groups.
Next the Palazzo Riccardi is the Church of San Giovannino, or San Giovanni Evangelista, on the site of the oratory built in fulfilment of the will of Giovanni di Lando de' Gori, at the corner of what was once the Via degli Spadai, or Swordmakers, afterwards de' Martelli, from the family of that name who had their houses in this neighbourhood. The body of the murdered Duke Alexander was concealed in the church in 1536. When the Jesuits came to Florence, under the patronage of Eleanora di Toledo, the wife of the Grand-Duke Cosimo I., this Oratory and the adjacent houses were given to them, on the site of which to build their church; and Bartolommeo Ammanati, the celebrated architect and sculptor, gave his whole patrimony to furnish the means. He had married Laura Battiferi, a lady who was remarkable as a painter and poetess as well as for her literary attainments: Ammanati and his wife are buried in the Chapel of St. Bartholomew in this church, where is a picture, by Bronzino, of Christ and the Apostles: an old woman behind is the portrait of Laura Battiferi.
The Via della Forca, behind the Via Martelli, contains the Palazzo Martelli, belonging to a descendant of one Roberto Martelli, whose greatest distinction is having been the patron of Donatello, whom he received as a boy into his house, and treated like a son. As a token of his gratitude Donatello afterwards presented him with a statue of St. John the Baptist, still in the possession of the family, one of the master's best productions. The figure is full-length, with emaciated limbs, and clothed in the garment of camel's hair. The effect of long fasting is given by the pinched nostrils and large eyes; the lips are apart, showing the teeth, and the eyebrows are raised; the details are highly finished. In the same room with this statue is a very fine bust of St. John the Baptist when a youth, by Donatello; the round forms and the surface given to the marble is extremely beautiful, and there is a peculiar sweetness in the expression of the mouth and half-closed eyes; the throat and hair are carefully modelled. This bust was conveyed to the Baptistery in 1541, to grace the ceremony of baptism of the eldest son of the Grand-duke Cosimo I. and Eleanora of Toledo.
In the Via della Forca is a very lovely image of the Madonna and Child and St. John, by Mino da Fiesole. It is in rather flat relief, but is a particularly sweet example of this artist's works.
At the corner of the Via della Forca and the Via Cerretani is a tablet, pointing out the former residence of the poetess Corilla, who was crowned in Rome.
In the via de' Ginori, behind the Palazzo Riccardi, and running parallel with the Via Cavour from the Piazza di San Lorenzo to the via degli Arazzieri, is the Palazzo Ginori. The family of Ginori, which has given many remarkable and patriotic citizens to Florence, is descended from one Gino Benvenuto, who settled in Florence in this district, near San Lorenzo, about the year 1304. The Marchese Carlo Ginori, who died in 1757, instituted the manufacture of porcelain near Florence, which is still celebrated throughout Europe. He began by collecting all the different earths of Tuscany; and he freighted a ship in which he sent out young men to collect models not only from the principal manufactures of Europe, but from China. They also imported rare plants from the East, which were introduced into Italy, as well as gold fish from China. His porcelain manufactory was opened in 1740, and was enlarged and improved by his son, the Marchese Lorenzo Ginori.
The Palazzo Ginori contains a small but select collection of pictures. The most valuable is a very fine painting, by Luca Signorelli, of the Holy Family. The Madonna stands behind a wall or ledge, on which the infant Christ bends to kiss the little St. John, who kneels, and whose countenance is most lovely, expressive of child-like innocence and reverence. To the left, in the landscape background, St. Jerome is represented, to the right, St. Bernard, with a church on a hill. Another picture of a Madonna and Child is by Botticelli – a very sweet and good example of the master; over this is anothe doubtful picture, by Signorelli. Some landscapes by Albani, and a highly finished head of an old man by a German artist, with one or two other pictures, are all contained in this room; in the ball-room, beyond, are some interesting sketches by Paolo Veronese, and a good portrait by Sustermans.
Returning to the Piazza San Marco, the Church of this name has been several times altered and embellished. It consists of a simple nave, with chapels on either side and a square tribune richly decorated, by Piero Françesco Silvani, who lived in the seventeenth century, so that the church appeared very differently when Savonarola was prior. A few traces of fresco, said to have been by Pietro Cavallini, remain on the left wall of the nave. On the facciata outside is St. Dominick with his dog, which Mrs. Jameson alludes to, as a typical statue of this saint, "familiar to strangers visiting Florence." Over the principal entrance within the church is suspended a wooden Crucifix, painted by Giotto, with a gold ground; this is supposed to be the same which established Giotto's superiority over Cimabue, and called forth the lines in the "Purgatorio:" –
O vanagloria delle umane posseVasari mentions this Crucifix with commendation, and supposes it to have been painted after Giotto's visit to Naples and Rome.
Com' poco verde in su la cima dura
Se non è giunta dall' etati grosse!
Credette Cimabue nella pintura
Tener lo campo, et ora ha Giotto il grido
Si che la fama di colui oscura.235
Purgatorio, xi. v. 91-96
The first altar to the right contains an annunciation by Pietro Cavallini, which is never exhibited without special permission from the Pope. Over the fourth altar in the chapel of the Ricci family, is a large mosaic of a Madonna, brought hither in 1609 from the Oratory of the Porta Santa and presented by Michael Angelo to the Ricci.
The arch over the last chapel on this side is crowned by a statue of San Zanobius; it is placed too high to judge of its merits; but opposite is a good statue of Sant' Antonino, by Giovan Bologna. A door to the right of the high altar leads to the sacristy and convent. The sacristy contains a statue of Sant' Antonino, by Montorsoli, a pupil of Michael Angelo. The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, to the left of the high altar, contains paintings by Bernardo Pocetti, Santi di Tito, Jacopo d' Empoli, Passignano, Bilivert, Salsetti, and Curradi, all of them good artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; but none of these pictures are of great interest, and the chapel is so dimly lighted, they are not easily seen.
The left transept is entirely occupied by the Chapel of Sant' Antonino, and contains the remains of the good bishop. The walls are covered with frescos by Passignano, who was the pupil of Federigo Zucchero; he was the friend of Cigoli, and the Master of Caracci. On the right wall is painted the interior of San Marco, as it appeared when the body of the saint was exposed to public view, and his panegyric pronounced from the pulpit. On the opposite wall is represented the procession when the body of Sant' Antonino, borne on the shoulders of four bishops, was carried to its last resting place in this chapel: the fresco is in Passignano's best manner, when he approaches Paolo Veronese. Behind the altar is a painting by Bronzino, representing the Fathers of the Church leaving Limbo. The marble statues on either side of St. Philip and St. John the Baptist, are by Francavilla, who worked under Giovan Bologna. The bronze reliefs of scenes from the life of Sant' Antonino are by Fra Domenico Partigiani.236
On the left wall of the nave are inscribed the names of Poliziano, Pico della Mirandola, and Girolamo Benivieni. The remains of the two last repose in one coffin. Angelo Poliziano, born at Monte Pulciano in 1454, early acquired a reputation for his acquaintance with Greek and Latin literature. He was at one time tutor to the sons of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and died in 1494. Girolamo Pico della Mirandola was born in 1463; while still a child, he was a prodigy of memory and learning, and his mother provided for him the best instructors, so that at ten years old he was compared to the first poets and orators of Italy. He studied canon law in Bologna, and passed seven years in the most celebrated universities of Italy and France, in order to acquire greater perfection in Latin, Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Chaldee. In 1486 he proceeded to Rome; on his return to Florence he bestowed all his worldly possessions on a nephew, and passed the rest of his days in retirement, surrounded by his books and friends, until on the 17th of November, 1494, the day that Charles VIII. of France made his triumphal entry into Florence, Pico della Mirandola died, at the age of thirty-one. Girolamo Benivieni, born in 1453, was a poet who endeavoured to restore the study of the Italian language. He was buried by the side of his friend Pico in 1542, having attained his eighty-ninth year.
Beneath the pulpit of San Marco is a stone which marks the burial place of the Lapi family, a name rendered famous by the historical romance of Massimo D' Azeglio, founded on the life of Nicolò de' Lapi, the obsequies of whose young son Baccio in this church are so graphically described.
In this church Girolamo Savonarola preached his last sermon, on Palm Sunday of the year 1498, a short and melancholy one, offering himself as a sacrifice to God. Fickle, swayed by the influence of the moment, the Florentines had rushed from one extreme to the other, and after having been enthusiastic, even to acts of violence, in upholding the doctrine of this virtuous, if fanatic, friar, they exhibited equal enthusiasm and violence in his destruction. Like the Jews of old towards a higher Being, a few exceptionally brave and noble spirits adhered faithfully to him they called their master; the rest hurried to the Piazza before San Marco, murdering those who seemed to oppose their passage, and attacked the convent and church from whence the terrified congregation, who were attending vespers, fled in haste. The doors of the church were closed, and some short hours later the Dominicans, unable to resist the mob, allowed their prior to deliver himself up to the brutal insults of a people as cowardly as they were cruel.
Alexander, Duke, de' Medici, began to reign 1532 –
Ammanati, Bartolommeo b. 1511 – d. 1560
Angeli, Sta. Maria degli, founded 1293
Angeli, Sta. Maria degli, church enlarged 1424
Andrea del Castagno b. 1409 – d. 1480
Arpino, Cesare d' b. 1560 – d. 1640
Baccio Bandinelli b. 1487 – d. 1559
Battiferi, Laura d. 1589
Benedetto da Maiano b. 1490(?) – d. 1550
Benivieni, Girolamo b. 1453 – d. 1542
Boniface IX., chosen Pope 1389 – d. 1404
Botticelli, Sandro b. 1437 – d. 1515
Buffalmacco b. 1262 – d. 1340
Buonarotti, Michael Angelo da b. 1474 – d. 1563
Cappello, Bianca, Grand-Duchess b. 1579 – d. 1587
Capponi, Gino, founder of the family d. 1420
Caracci, Annibale b. 1560 – d. 1609
Caracci, Agostino b. 1558 – d. 1602
Caravaggio, Michael Angelo da b. 1569 – d. 1609
Charles VIII. of France at Florence d. 1494
Cimabue b. 1240 – d. 1302
Ciompi Riots 1378
Donatello b. 1383 – d. 1466
Eugenius IV. came to Florence 1135
Galilei Galileo b. 1564 – d. 1642
Ghirlandaio, Ridolfo b. 1485 – d. 1560
Ginori porcelain manufacture opened 1740
Giordano, Luca b. 1632 – d. 1705
Giotto b. 1276 – d. 1336
Gozzoli, Benozzo b. 1400 – d. 1478
Guercino b. 1590 – d. 1666
Houbraken, Jacob b. 1698
Landino b. 1424 – d. 1504
Leo XI., Pope 1605
Marucelliana Library founded 1703
Medici, Cosimo de', Pater Patriæ b. 1389 – d. 1464
Michelozzi, Michelozzo b. 1396 – d. 1478
Mino da Fiesole b. 1431 – d. 1486
Montorsoli b. 1507 – d. 1563
Niccolini, Giovan Battista b. 1782 – d. 1861
Padovannino, Il b. 1502 – d. 1617
Peregrini da Cesena, his first engraving 1511
Pico della Mirandola b. 1463 – d. 1494
Pollajuolo, Antonio b. 1426
Riccardi or Medici Palace founded 1430
Robetta, engraver b. 1460(?)
Rustici, Françesco, painter b. 1595 – d. 1625
Tafi, Andrea b. 1213 – d. 1294
Traversari, Ambrogio b. 1378 – d. 1439
Uzzano, Nicolò b. 1382 – d. 1417
Vouet, Simon b. 1582 – d. 1641
228 Jacopo da
Lentino, or "the Notary," was a Sicilian poet who flourished
about 1250, in the later days of the Emperor Frederick
II. See notes to "Dante," Longfellow. P. 431
But say if him I here behold who forth230
Evoked the new-invented rhymes, beginning
'Ladies that have intelligence of Love?'
And I to him: 'One am I who, whenever
Love doth inspire me, note, and in that measure
Which he within me dictates, singing go.'
'O brother, now I see,' he said, 'the knot
Which me, the Notary, and Guittone held
Short of the sweet new style that now I hear.
I do perceive full clearly how your pens
Go closely following after him who dictates,
Which with our own, forsooth, came not to pass;
And he who sets himself to go beyond,
No difference sees from one style to another.'
And, as if satisfied, he held his peace.
"Thus many ancients with Guittone did;231 Two of the finest pictures, by Lorenzo Monaco and by Bernardo Mainardi, have been transported to the Gallery of the Uffizi, 1877.
From cry to cry still giving him applause,
Until the truth has conquered with most persons."
See Longfellow's translation and notes.
"O thou vain glory of the human powers,236 The original owner of the book from which this ebook is prepared, Ellen Orton, noted that "There is a covered Fra Bartolommeo in San Marco, 'Madonna and Saints'. Unfortunately I was not able to get it uncovered."
Ho little green upon thy summit lingers
If 't be not followed by an age of grossness!
In painting, Cimabue thought that he
Should hold the field, now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other's fame is growing dim."
Chapter XXIX: The Via San Gallo – The Palazzo Strozzi
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