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and from what is known, by other works of Lionardo, of his power of expression, it can hardly be doubted, that in the head of the Saviour in that painting, the noblest effort of the art has been irrecoverably lost. It was a singular, and yet perhaps not an inconsistent trait in Lionardo, that, inconstant as he was to any one pursuit, he was nevertheless obstinately laborious upon the single work he had in hand. He is said to have been employed four years on one portrait; and to have left it, in his own judgment, at least, unfinished.
The secret of this strange character seems to have been a want of decision, and of just confidence in himself, generated by an indulgence in habits of contemplation, to the neglect of those of action. His ardent temperament and lofty genius, excited by long reflection, impelled him to attempt every thing; and while the excitement of novelty lasted, and, indeed, so long as the immediate object was before him, he proceeded with energy and perseverance. But as the work cooled, he lost his courage ; and often abandoned in despair what he might easily have accomplished to the admiration of all but himself. This weakness of purpose increased as he grew older ; and the success of Raphael and of Michel Angelo, so much his juniors, added to his despondency. He had, in youth, accompanied Sforza, Duke of Milan, from Florence; and was in the highest favor with that prince as long as his power lasted. Compelled, by the revolution in Milan, to return to Florence, he found there a successful rival in Michel Angelo. Called afterwards to Rome by Leo the Tenth, he saw Raphael, who had come to Florence as a student when he was himself in the height of his renown, filling the Vatican with his masterpieces, and the Eternal City with his fame ; and just as he was to enter the lists with this new rival, he found himself dismissed from the court with contempt, because his preparations were too tedious for the impatience of the pope, who had seen such wonders grow around him like magic, by the energy of his young competitor. From that time Lionardo appears to have abandoned his art; and, taking refuge at the court of Francis the First, his death soon followed, hastened probably by chagrin and disappointment.
But though Lionardo was beyond all comparison the greatest artist of his time before Raphael and Michel Angelo began their career, he had left Florence so long before, that he seems to have made no impression upon the school of that
city until his second visit. Perugino and Francia were still considered at the head of the art. Lionardo's Last Supper must have been painted about the time that Raphael entered the formal school of Perugino ; but he seems to have been little known in the Roman states, or even in Florence. It is singular how little communication there seems to have been between the artists of the different states of Italy, even at a later period. Correggio at Parma, Raphael at Rome, Titian at Venice, formed their own peculiar styles almost simultaneously, and rose to the bighest excellence in their several departments of the art, without any communication with each other. Raphael never visited either the cities of Lombardy, or Venice ; Correggio never went to Rome; nor did Titian, until twenty-six years after the death of Raphael. These three artists, therefore, though living within so short a distance, and nearly enough of the same age to have been at the same time in the height of their fame at home, rendered each other no assistance whatever. And, at an earlier time, when Rapbael's father found himself unfit to be the instructer of his son, though he sought the best school in Italy, he overlooked that which produced the Last Supper, at Milan, and placed him under Perugino, an artist of the same age with Lionardo in years, but of a far different age in the art. If Raphael bad been the pupil of Lionardo, whom he much resembled in genius though little in character, it is hardly possible he could have accomplished more than he did without that advantage; perhaps, on the contrary, he would have been misled, by the inconstant genius of his master, to spend his own life in the same search after impossible perfection. But such a pupil as Raphael might have stimulated Lionardo to efforts, that would have produced works far beyond any that have been left by either. Had he met, earlier in life, such competitors as Raphael and Michel Angelo, perhaps he would have continued to hold the preeminence that he had gained before they began to be known ; but, having so early surpassed all rivalry, he grew careless of his fame, until he had lost the power of contending for it. After he had painted the Last Supper, a picture entirely free from the barbarisms of the early ages, Perugino and Francia were still esteemed the first artists in Italy.
The manners of these two artists were not unlike; and both retained deep traces of the stiff and dry style, that was brought into Italy by the Greek painters of the thirteenth century, and NO. 98.
was modified, but not quite subdued, in the works of Cimabue, Giotto, and their successors. It is difficult to describe this manner intelligibly, except by comparison. M. de Quincy characterizes them, as exhibiting " poverty of invention, timidity in execution, dryness, but purity of outline, little depth of tint or strength of color, but clearness and freshness of tone, bonhommie of composition, little expression or action, but a portrait-like naturalness in the attitudes and air of the beads. Their compositions, or rather their collections of figures, — for of composition, properly so called, they seem to have bad very little notion, - consisted generally of the Holy Family, either alone, or with the addition of a few of the saints, and perhaps two or three of the patrons of the painter, who were desirous of being exhibited in the attitude of devotion. These were brought together without much regard to general effect, and generally with very little meaning ; looking like single portraits, of which the attitudes and expression had little to do with the other figures, or with the business of the picture. Each seemed to be there by accident, and very much on his own account. To this may be added, that though the color had often great beauty, simply as local color, it was obtained at the expense of the beauty of light and shadow, of which very little was then known; that the drawing was almost universally feeble and inaccurate, and the foreshortenings and perspective very imperfect. Indeed, so full of defects were they, which even the most indifferent artists are now able to avoid, that we are, at first, inclined to wonder that they could ever have been much esteemed; and yet the practised eye sees in them much, that artists of the present day might study with advantage. The knowledge of modern times disguises many defects, of which those old artists, with all their rudeness, would have been ashamed.
Such, as well as we have been able to describe it, was the state of the art before the time of Raphael. It was no remnant, nor revival, of that of the ancients. It had no feature, by which its descent could be traced from the older Greeks. Long before the earliest time to which we can follow it back, all the works of ancient painting had perished, or been buried where a few relics only have been saved until our own times, to show how entirely the art had been lost; but not enough, it must be admitted, to convince us that, in its best estate, it had ever approached the excellence to which it was carried by Raphael and his contemporaries. But, though modern painting owes nothing to that of the Greeks, but for their sculpture it seems doubtful whether it ever would have reached so high a tone. Both Michel Angelo and Raphael were deeply indebted to its newly-discovered relics, for that generalization of grandeur and beauty which distinguished them from all their predecessors. Before their time, Lionardo alone had been able to emancipate himself from the habits of the old schools, and to catch the true expression and forms of actual nature. He first composed his figures so as to produce one harmonious and natural effect. He first, too, revealed the magic of chiaro scuro, which Correggio soon carried to perfection. But he failed to reach the ideal form, which was the invention, or rather the creation, of the Greeks; and which universal consent has pronounced the very archetype of human beauty. But though Lionardo seems, in his best works, so much to have surpassed all before him as to be justly called the father of modern painting, he produced but little impression on his age. He instituted and presided over an academy at Milan; but his followers were his mere copyists, exaggerating bis faults, and losing sight of his merits. His return to Florence in the year 1500, when he was fifty-five years old, was the occasion, if not the cause, of that sudden burst of splendor into which the art then broke out. He was engaged by the magistrates of Florence, upon his arrival in that city, to paint, for their Council Chamber, one of the victories of the republic in the wars of Pisa. Animated by his task, he soon produced a cartoon of the work, which excited unbounded applause, and stimulated Michel Angelo, who had arrived at Florence about the same time, and was then twenty-five years of age, to measure his powers with those of the celebrated painter. The result is well known to have been a work, in which the art has lost probably the finest specimen of design ever produced. Michel Angelo was then at an age to have reached the maturity of his powers, without having acquired the learning which, in bis later works, overcharges his designs. Neither of these celebrated compositions was executed in a durable form, as was intended ; but both remained in cartoons, exposed to the hazards from which even those of Raphael, that have been preserved, were only saved by having been cut into strips, for the weavers of the tapestry for which they were designed. These rival cartoons became the study of all the artists of Florence; and it is reported
of Raphael, that such was his impatience to profit by them, that he left unfinished the frescoes of Sienna, the first great work in which he was engaged, and removed to Florence. He had been invited, at about the age of eighteen, to assist his former fellowstudent Pinturichio, in painting the library at Sienna, a work in which he soon took the lead ; but which, after two years' labor, he left to be finished by others, either from the cause above mentioned, or some other not known. It is certain, however, that when he was about twenty-one years
of was among the many artists who diligently studied the cartoons of Lionardo and Michel Angelo. Before fixing himself at Florence, however, he painted for about a year at his native city, Urbino, to which he had been called by the death of his father, and at Perugia, the place of his early studies. His pictures painted during this time, exhibit rather a gradual refinement and elevation than any marked change of manner. On his return to Florence, in 1505, he began with earnestness a new course of study that produced his second manner, and in three years placed him at the head of all the painters of Italy.
These studies were directed first to the antique. The family of Medicis had formed in their palace, and thrown open to artists, a collection of ancient marbles, to the study of which Raphael was probably indebted, more than to any other cause, for the change that soon took place in his style of design. It was a change from the scholastic to the classical. All remains of the dry and stiff manner of Perugino yielded to the ease and grace of the antique, and his forms gradually became more generalized and ideal Under his hand the spirit of Grecian art seemed to awake in a new form, after a slumber of almost two thousand years. The frescoes of Masaccio, an artist of whom we know little but that he lived sixty years before Raphael, and died at the age of twenty-six, were also objects of his study.
It gives a high idea of the genius of Masaccio, that in so dark an age of the art, and at so early a period of life, he could have produced works which Raphael thought worthy of study ; and some of which he even transferred, almost without alteration, to the Loggie of the Vatican, when he was himself in the zenith of his fame. For iniprovement in his color Raphael had recourse to the instructions of Bartolomeo, who, after having abandoned his art from religious scruples, and adopted the monastic life, was ordered by his superiors, whose taste respected his skill as a painter more