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ANTONIO DA SAN GALLO (THE YOUNGER)
ARCHITECT OF FLORENCE
Part 2

Vasari's Lives of the Artists




He then returned to Rome, just after that city had been given over to sack; and the Pope was at Orvieto, where the Court was suffering very greatly from want of water. Thereupon, at the wish of the Pontiff, Antonio built in that city a well all of stone, twenty-five braccia wide, with two spiral staircases cut in the tufa, one above the other, following the curve of the well. By these two spiral staircases it is possible to descend to the bottom of the well, insomuch that the animals that go there for water, entering by one door, go down by one of the two staircases, and when they have come to the platform where they receive their load of water, they pass, without turning round, into the other branch of the spiral staircase, which winds above that of the descent, and emerge from the well by a different door, opposite to the other. This work, which was an ingenious, useful, and marvellously beautiful thing, was carried almost to completion before the death of Clement; and the mouth of the well, which alone remained to be executed, was finished by order of Pope Paul III, but not according to the directions drawn up by Clement with the advice of Antonio, who was much commended for so beautiful a work. Certain it is that the ancients never built a structure equal to this in workmanship or ingenuity, seeing, above all, that the central shaft is made in such a way that even down to the bottom it gives light by means of certain windows to the two staircases mentioned above.

While this work was in progress, the same Antonio directed the construction of the fortress of Ancona, which in time was carried to completion. Afterwards, Pope Clement resolving, at the time when his nephew Alessandro de' Medici was Duke of Florence, to erect an impregnable fortress in that city, Signor Alessandro Vitelli, Pier Francesco da Viterbo, and Antonio laid out that castle, or rather, fortress, which is between the Porta al Prato and the Porta a S. Gallo, and caused it to be built with such rapidity, that no similar structure, whether ancient or modern, was ever completed so quickly. In a great tower, which was the first to be founded, and was called the Toso, were placed many inscriptions and medals, with the most solemn pomp and ceremony; and this work is now celebrated over all the world, and is held to be impregnable.

By order of Antonio were summoned to Loreto the sculptor Tribolo, Raffaello da Montelupo, Francesco da San Gallo, then a young man, and Simone Cioli, who finished the scenes of marble begun by Andrea Sansovino. To the same place Antonio summoned the Florentine [Simone] Mosca, a most excellent carver of marble, who was then occupied, as will be related in his Life, with a chimney-piece of stone for the heirs of Pellegrino da Fossombrone, which proved to be a divine work of carving. This master, I say, at the entreaty of Antonio, made his way to Loreto, where he executed festoons that are absolutely divine. Thus, with rapidity and diligence, the ornamentation of that Chamber of Our Lady was completely finished, although Antonio had five works of importance on his hands at one and the same time, to all of which, notwithstanding that they were in different places, distant one from another, he gave his attention in such a manner that he never neglected any of them; for when at any time he could not conveniently be there in person, he availed himself of the assistance of his brother Battista. These five works were the above-mentioned Fortress of Florence, that of Ancona, the work at Loreto, the Apostolic Palace, and the well at Orvieto.

After the death of Clement, when Cardinal Farnese was elected supreme Pontiff under the title of Paul III, Antonio, having been the friend of the Pope while he was a Cardinal, came into even greater credit; and His Holiness, having created his son, Signor Pier Luigi, Duke of Castro, sent Antonio to make the designs of the fortress which that Duke caused to be founded in that place; of the palace, called the Osteria, that is on the Piazza; and of the Mint, built of travertine after the manner of that in Rome, which is in the same place. Nor were these the only designs that Antonio made in that city, for he prepared many others of palaces and other buildings for various persons, both natives and strangers, who erected edifices of such cost that it would seem incredible to one who has not seen them, so ornate are they all, so commodious, and built with so little regard for expense; which was done by many, without a doubt, in order to please the Pope, seeing that even by such means do many contrive to procure favors for themselves, flattering the humor of Princes; and this is a thing not otherwise than worthy of praise, for it contributes to the convenience, advantage, and pleasure of the whole world.

Next, in the year in which the Emperor Charles V returned victorious from Tunis, most magnificent triumphal arches were erected to him in Messina, in Apulia, and in Naples, in honour of so great a victory; and since he was to come to Rome, Antonio, at the commission of the Pope, made a triumphal arch of wood at the Palace of S. Marco, of such a shape that it might serve for two streets, and so beautiful that a more superb or better proportioned work in wood has never been seen. And if in such a work splendid and costly marbles had been added to the industry, art, and diligence bestowed on its design and execution, it might have been deservedly numbered, on account of its statues, painted scenes, and other ornaments, among the Seven Wonders of the world. This arch, which was placed at the end of the corner turning into the principal Piazza, was of the Corinthian Order, with four round columns overlaid with silver on each side, and capitals carved in most beautiful foliage, completely overlaid with gold. There were very beautiful architraves, friezes, and cornices placed with projections over every column; and between each two columns were two painted scenes, insomuch that there were four scenes distributed over each side, which, with the two sides, made eight scenes altogether, containing, as will be described elsewhere in speaking of those who painted them, the deeds of the Emperor.

In order to enhance this splendor, also, and to complete the pediment above that arch on each side, there were two figures in relief, each four braccia and a half in height, representing Rome, with two Emperors of the House of Austria on either side, those on the front part being Albrecht and Maximilian, and those on the other side Frederick and Rudolph. And upon the corners, likewise, were four prisoners, two on each side, with a great number of trophies, also in relief, and the arms of His Holiness and of His Majesty; which were all executed under the direction of Antonio by excellent sculptors and by the best painters that there were in Rome at that time. And not only this arch was executed under the direction of Antonio, but also all the preparations for the festival that was held for the reception of so great and so invincible an Emperor.

The same Antonio then set to work on the Fortress of Nepi for the aforesaid Duke of Castro, and on the fortification of the whole city, which is both beautiful and impregnable. He laid out many streets in the same city, and made for its citizens the designs of many houses and palaces. His Holiness then causing the bastions of Rome to be constructed, which are very strong, and the Porta di S. Spirito being included among those works, the latter was built with the direction and design of Antonio, with rustic decorations of travertine, in a very solid and beautiful manner, and so magnificent, that it equals the works of the ancients. After the death of Antonio, there were some who sought, moved more by envy than by any reasonable motive, and employing extraordinary means, to have this structure pulled down; but this was not allowed by those in power.

Under the direction of the same architect was refounded almost the whole of the Apostolic Palace, which was in danger of ruin in many other parts besides those that have been mentioned; in particular, on one side, the Sistine Chapel, in which are the works of Michelagnolo, and likewise the facade, which he did in such a way that not the slightest crack appeared--a work richer in danger than in honor. He enlarged the Great Hall of that same Sistine Chapel, making in two lunettes at the head of it those immense windows with their marvellous lights, and with compartments pushed up into the vaulting and wrought in stucco; all executed at great cost, and so well, that this hall may be considered the richest and the most beautiful that there had been in the world up to that time. And he added to it a staircase, by which it might be possible to go into S. Pietro, so commodious and so well built that nothing better, whether ancient or modern, has yet been seen; and likewise the Pauline Chapel, where the Sacrament has to be placed, which is a work of extraordinary charm, so beautiful and so well proportioned and distributed, that through the grace that may be seen therein it appears to present itself to the eye with a festive smile.

Antonio built the Fortress of Perugia, at the time when there was discord between the people of that city and the Pope; and that work, for which the houses of the Baglioni were thrown to the ground, was finished with marvellous rapidity, and proved to be very beautiful. He also built the Fortress of Ascoli, bringing it in a few days to such a condition that it could be held by a garrison, although the people of Ascoli and others did not think that it could be carried so far in many years; wherefore it happened that, when the garrison was placed in it so quickly, those people were struck with astonishment, and could scarce believe it. He also refounded his own house in the Strada Giulia at Rome, in order to protect himself from the floods that rise when the Tiber is swollen; and he not only began, but in great part completed, the palace that he occupied near S. Biagio, which now belongs to Cardinal Riccio of Montepulciano, who has finished it, adding most ornate apartments, and spending upon it vast sums in addition to what had been spent by Antonio, which was some thousands of crowns.

But all that Antonio did to the benefit and advantage of the world is as nothing in comparison with the model of the venerable and stupendous fabric of S. Pietro at Rome, which, planned in the beginning by Bramante, he enlarged and rearranged with a new plan and in an extraordinary manner, giving it dignity and a well-proportioned composition, both as a whole and in its separate parts, as may be seen from the model made of wood by the hand of his disciple, Antonio L'Abacco, who carried it to absolute perfection. This model, which gave Antonio a very great name, was published in engraving after the death of Antonio da San Gallo, together with the ground-plan of the whole edifice, by the said Antonio L'Abacco, who wished to show in this way how great was the genius of San Gallo, and to make known to all men the opinion of that architect; for new plans had been proposed in opposition by Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and out of this change of plans many contentions afterwards arose, as will be related in the proper place. It appeared to Michelagnolo, and also to many others who saw the model of San Gallo, and such parts as were carried into execution by him, that Antonio's composition was too much cut up by projections and by members which are too small, as are also the columns, the arches upon arches, and the cornices upon cornices. Besides this, it seems not to be approved that the two bell-towers in his plan, the four little tribunes, and the principal cupola, should have that ornament, or rather, garland of columns, many and small.

In like manner, men did not much approve, nor do they now, of those innumerable pinnacles that are in it as a finish to the work; and it appears that in that model he imitated the style and manner of the Germans rather than the good manner of the ancients, which is now followed by the best architects. The above-mentioned model of S. Pietro was finished by L'Abacco a short time after the death of Antonio; and it was found that, in so far as appertained merely to the woodwork and the labour of the carpenters, it had cost four thousand one hundred and eighty-four crowns. In executing it, Antonio L'Abacco, who had charge of the work, acquitted himself very well, having a good knowledge of the matters of architecture, as is proved by the book of the buildings of Rome that he printed, which is very beautiful. This model, which is now to be found in the principal chapel of S. Pietro, is thirty-five palme in length, twenty-six in breadth, and twenty palme and a half in height; wherefore, according to the model, the work would have been one thousand and forty palme in length, or one hundred and four canne, and three hundred and sixty palme in breadth, or thirty-six canne, for the reason that the canna which is used in Rome, according to the measure of the masons, is equal to ten palme.

For the making of this model and of many designs, there were assigned to Antonio by the Wardens of the building of S. Pietro fifteen hundred crowns, of which he received one thousand in cash; but the rest he never drew, for a short time after that work he passed to the other life. He strengthened the piers of the same Church of S. Pietro, to the end that the weight of the tribune might be supported securely; and he filled all the scattered parts of the foundations with solid material, and made them so strong, that there is no reason to fear that the building may show any more cracks or threaten to fall, as it did in the time of Bramante. This masterly work, if it were above the ground instead of being hidden below, would amaze the boldest intellect. And for these reasons the name and fame of this admirable craftsman should always have a place among the rarest masters.

We find that ever since the time of the ancient Romans the men of Terni and those of Narni have been deadly enemies with one another, as they still are, for the reason that the lake of the Marmora, becoming choked up at times, would do injury to one of those communities; and thus, when the people of Narni wished to release the waters, those of Terni would by no means consent to it. On that account there has always been a difference between them, whether the Pontiffs were governing Rome, or whether it was subject to the Emperors; and in the time of Cicero that orator was sent by the Senate to compose that difference, but it remained unsettled. Wherefore, after envoys had been sent to Pope Paul III in the year 1546 for the same purpose, he despatched Antonio to them to settle that dispute; and so, by his good judgment, it was resolved that the lake should have an outlet on the side where the wall is, and Antonio had it cut, although with the greatest difficulty. But it came to pass by reason of the heat, which was great, and other hardships, that Antonio, being now old and feeble, fell sick of a fever at Terni, and rendered up his spirit not long after; at which his friends and relatives felt infinite sorrow, and many buildings suffered, particularly the Palace of the Farnese family, near the Campo di Fiore.

Pope Paul III, when he was Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, had carried that palace a considerable way towards completion, and had finished part of the first range of windows in the faade and the inner hall, and had begun one side of the courtyard; but the building was yet not so far advanced that it could be seen in its perfection, when the Cardinal was elected Pontiff, and Antonio altered the whole of the original design, considering that he had to make a palace no longer for a Cardinal, but for a Pope. Having therefore pulled down some houses that were round it, and the old staircase, he rebuilt it with a more gentle ascent, and increased the courtyard on every side and also the whole palace, making the halls greater in extent and the rooms more numerous and more magnificent, with very beautiful carved ceilings and many other ornaments. And he had already brought the facade, with the second range of windows, to completion, and had only to add the great cornice that was to go right round the whole, when the Pope, who was a man of exalted mind and excellent judgment, desiring to have a cornice richer and more beautiful than any that there had ever been in any other palace whatsoever, resolved that, in addition to the designs that Antonio had made, all the best architects of Rome should each make one, after which he would choose the finest, but would nevertheless have it carried into execution by Antonio. And so one morning, while he was at table at the Belvedere, all those designs were brought before him in the presence of Antonio, the masters who had made them being Perino del Vaga, Fra Sebastiano del Piombo, Michelagnolo Buonarroti, and Giorgio Vasari, who was then a young man and in the service of Cardinal Farnese, at the commission of whom and of the Pope he had prepared for that cornice not one only, but two different designs. It is true that Buonarroti did not bring his own himself, but sent it by the same Giorgio Vasari, who had gone to show him his designs, to the end that he might express his opinion on them as a friend; whereupon Michelagnolo gave him his own design, asking that he should take it to the Pope and make his excuses for not going in person, on the ground that he was indisposed. And when all the designs had been presented to the Pope, his Holiness examined them for a long time, and praised them all as ingenious and very beautiful, but that of the divine Michelagnolo above all.

Now all this did not happen without causing vexation to Antonio, who was not much pleased with this method of procedure on the part of the Pope, and who would have liked to do everything by himself. But even more was he displeased to see that the Pope held in great account one Jacomo Melighino of Ferrara, and made use of him as architect in the building of S. Pietro, although he showed neither power of design nor much judgment in his works, giving him the same salary as he paid to Antonio, on whom fell all the labor. And this happened because this Melighino had been the faithful servant of the Pope for many years without any reward, and it pleased His Holiness to recompense him in that way; not to mention that he had charge of the Belvedere and of some other buildings belonging to the Pope.

After the Pope, therefore, had seen all the designs mentioned above, he said, perchance to try Antonio: "These are all beautiful, but it would not be amiss for us to see another that our Melighino has made." At which Antonio, feeling some resentment, and believing that the Pope was making fun of him, replied: "Holy Father, Melighino is but an architect in jest." Which hearing, the Pope, who was seated, turned towards Antonio, and, bowing his head almost to the ground, answered: "Antonio, it is our wish that Melighino should be an architect in earnest, as you may see from his salary." Having said this, he dismissed the company and went away; and by these words he meant to show that it is very often by Princes rather than by their own merits that men are brought to the greatness that they desire. The cornice was afterwards executed by Michelagnolo, who reconstructed the whole of that palace almost in another form, as will be related in his Life.

After the death of Antonio there remained alive his brother Battista Gobbo, a person of ability, who spent all his time on the buildings of Antonio, although the latter did not behave very well towards him. This Battista did not live many years after Antonio, and at his death he left all his possessions to the Florentine Company of the Misericordia in Rome, on the condition that the men of that Company should cause to be printed a book of Observations on Vitruvius that he had written. That book has never come into the light of day, but it is believed to be a good work, for he had a very fine knowledge of the matters of his art, and was a man of excellent judgment, and he was also upright and true.

But returning to Antonio: having died at Terni, he was taken to Rome and carried to the grave with the greatest pomp, followed by all the craftsmen of design and by many others; and then, at the instance of the Wardens of S. Pietro, his body was placed in a tomb near the Chapel of Pope Sixtus in S. Pietro, with the following epitaph:



ANTONIO SANCTI GALLI FLORENTINO, URBE MUNIENDA AC PUB.
OPERIBUS, PR®CIPUEQUE D. PETRI TEMPLO ORNAN. ARCHITECTORUM FACILE
PRINCIPI, DUM VELINI LACUS EMISSIONEM PARAT, PAULO PONT. MAX.
AUCTORE, INTERAMN® INTEMPESTIVE EXTINCTO, ISABELLA DETA UXOR
MÎSTISS. POSUIT 1546, III. CALEND. OCTOBRIS.

And in truth Antonio, who was a most excellent architect, deserves to be celebrated and extolled, as his works clearly demonstrate, no less than any other architect, whether ancient or modern.



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