LINK TO BIB


Baccio da Montelupo (1469-1535)
with the Life of Raphael da Montelupo (1504-1566)
and mention of Agostino Busti, Il Bambaia (1483-1548)

Vasari's Lives of the Artists






SO STRONG is the belief of mankind that those who are negligent in the arts which they profess to practice can never arrive at any perfection in them, that it was in the face of the judgment of many that Baccio da Montelupo learnt the art of sculpture; and this happened to him because in his youth, led astray by pleasures, he would scarcely ever study, and, although he was exhorted and upbraided by many, he thought little or nothing of art. But having come to years of discretion, which bring sense with them, he was forced straightway to learn how far he was from the good way. Whereupon, seeing with shame that others were going ahead of him in that art, he resolved with a stout heart to follow and practice with all possible zeal that which in his idleness he had hitherto shunned. This resolution was the reason that he produced in sculpture such fruits as the opinions of many no longer expected from him.

Having thus devoted himself with all his powers to his art, and practicing it continually, he became a rare and excellent master. And of this he gave a proof in a work in hardstone, wrought with the chisel, on the corner of the garden attached to the Palace of the Pucci in Florence; which was the escutcheon of Pope Leo X, with two children supporting it, executed in a beautiful and masterly manner. He made a Hercules for Pier Francesco de' Medici; and from the Guild of Porta Santa Maria he received the commission for a statue of St. John the Evangelist, to be executed in bronze, in securing which he had many difficulties, since a number of masters made models in competition with him. This figure was afterwards placed on the corner of San Michele in Orto, opposite to the Ufficio; and the work was finished by him with supreme diligence. It is said that when he had made the figure in clay, all who saw the arrangement of the armatures, and the moulds laid upon them, held it to be a beautiful piece of work, recognizing the rare in ingenuity of Baccio in such an enterprise; and when they had seen it cast with the utmost facility, they gave Baccio credit for having shown supreme mastery, and having made a solid and beautiful casting. These labors endured in that profession, brought him the name of a good and even excellent master; and that figure is esteemed more than ever at the present day by all craftsmen, who hold it to be most beautiful.

Setting himself also to work in wood, he carved lifesize Crucifixes, of which he made an endless number for all parts of Italy, and among them one that is over the door of the choir of the Monks of S. Marco at Florence. These are all excellent and full of grace, but there are some that are much more perfect than the rest, such as the one of the Murate in Florence, and another, no less famous than the first, in San Pietro Maggiore; and for the Monks of SS. Fiora e Lucilla he made a similar one, which they placed over the high-altar of their abbey at Arezzo, and which is held to be much the most beautiful of them all. For the visit of Pope Leo X to Florence, Baccio erected between the Palace of the Podesta and the Badia a very beautiful triumphal arch of wood and clay; with many l ittle works, which have either disappeared or been dispersed among the houses of citizens.

Having grown weary, however, of living in Florence, he went off to Lucca, where he executed some works in sculpture, and even more in architecture, in the service of that city, and, in particular, the beautiful and well-designed Temple of San Paulino, the Patron Saint of the people of Lucca, built with proofs of a fine and well-trained intelligence both within and without, and richly adorned. Living in that city, then, up to the eighty-eighth year of his life, he ended his days there, and received honorable burial in the aforesaid San Paulino from those whom he had honored when alive.

A contemporary of Baccio was Agostino, a very famous sculptor and carver of Milan, who began in Santa Maria, at Milan, the tomb of Monsignore de Foix, which remains unfinished even now; and in it may still be seen many large figures, some finished, some half completed, and others only blocked out, with a number of scenes in half-relief, in pieces and not built in, and a great quantity of foliage and trophies. For the Biraghi, also, he made another tomb, which is finished and erected in San Francesco, with six large figures, the base wrought with scenes, and other very beautiful ornaments, which bear witness to the masterly skill of that valiant craftsman.

Baccio left at his death, among other sons, Raffaello, who applied himself to sculpture, and not merely equaled his father, but surpassed him by a great measure. This Raffaello, beginning in his youth to work in clay, in wax, and in bronze, acquired the name of an excellent sculptor, and was therefore taken by Antonio da San Gallo to Loreto, together with many others, in order to finish the ornamentation of that Chamber, according to the directions left by Andrea Sansovino; where Raffaello completely finished the Marriage of Our Lady, begun by the said Sansovino, executing many things in a beautiful and perfect manner, partly over the beginnings of Andrea, and partly f rom his own invention. Wherefore he was deservedly esteemed to be one of the best craftsmen who worked there in his time.

He had finished this work, when Michelangelo, by order of Pope Clement VII, proceeded to finish t he new sacristy and the library of San Lorenzo in Florence; and that master, having recognized the talent of Raffaello, made use of him in that work, and caused him to execute, among other things, after the model that he himself had made, the San Damiano of marble which is now in that sacristy--a very beautiful statue, very highly extolled by all men. After the death of Clement, Raffaello attached himself to Duke Alessandro de' Medici, who was then having the fortress of Prato built; and he made for him in greystone, on one of the extremities of the chief bastion of that fortress--namely, on the outer side--the escutcheon of the Emperor Charles V, upheld by two nude and lifesize ictories, which were much extolled, as they still are. And for the extremity of another bastion, in the direction of the city, on the southern side, he made the arms of Duke Alessandro in the same kind of stone, with two figures. Not long after, he executed a large Crucifix of wood for the Nuns of Santš Apollonia; and for Alessandro Antinori, a very rich and noble merchant of Florence at that time, he prepared a most magnificent festival for the marriage of his daughter, with statues, scenes, and many other most beautiful ornaments.

Having then gone to Rome, he received from Buonarroti a commission to make two figures of marble, each five braccia high, for the tomb of Julius II, which was finished and erected at that time by Michelangelo in San Pietro in Vincula. But Raffaello, falling ill while he was executing this work, was not able to put into it his usual zeal and diligence, on which account he lost credit thereby, and gave little satisfaction to Michelangelo. At the visit of the Emperor Charles V to Rome, for which Pope Paul III prepared a festival worthy of that all-conquering Prince, Raffaello made with clay and stucco, on the Ponte Santš Angelo, fourteen statues so beautiful, that they were judged to be the best that had been made for that festival. And, what is more, he executed them with such rapidity that he was in time to come to Florence, where the Emperor was likewise expected, to make within the space of five days and no more, on the abutment of the Ponte a Santa Trinita, two Rivers of clay, each five braccia high, the Rhine to stand for Germany and the Danube for Hungary.

After this, having been summoned to Orvieto, he made in marble, in a chapel wherein the excellent sculptor Mosca had previously executed many most beautiful ornaments, the story of the Magi in half-relief, which proved to be a very fine work, on account of the great variety of figures and the good manner with which he executed them. Then, having returned to Rome, he was appointed by Tiberio Crispo, at that time Castellan of the Castello di Santš Angelo, as architect of that great structure; whereupon he set in order many rooms there, adorning them with carvings in many kinds of stone and various sorts of variegated marbles on the chimney-pieces, windows, and doors. In addition to this, he made a marble statue, five braccia high, of the Angel of that Castle, which is on the summit of the great square tower in the center, where the standard flies, after the likeness of that Angel that appeared to S. Gregory, who, having prayed that the people should be delivered from a most grievous pestilence, saw him sheathing his sword in the scabbard. Later, when the said Crispo had been made a Cardinal, he sent Raffaello several times to Bolsena, where he was building a palace. Nor was it long before the very reverend Cardinal Salviati and Messer Baldassarre Turini da Pescia commissioned Raffaello, who had already left the service of the Castle and of Cardinal Crispo, to make the statue of Pope Leo that is now over his tomb in the Minerva at Rome. That work finished, Raffaello made a tomb for the same Messer Baldassarre in the Church of Pescia, where that gentleman had built a chapel of marble. And for a chapel in the Consolazione, at Rome, he made three figures of marble in half-relief. But afterwards, having given himself up to the sort of life fit rather for a philosopher than for a sculptor, and wishing to live in peace, he retired to Orvieto, where he undertook the charge of the building of Santa Maria, in which he made many improvements; and with this he occupied himself for many years, growing old before his time.

I believe that Raffaello, if he had undertaken great works, as he might have done, would have executed more things in art, and better, than he did. But he was too kindly and considerate, avoiding all conflict, and contenting himself with that wherewith fortune had provided him; and thus he neglected many opportunities of making works of distinction. Raffaello was a very masterly draughtsman, and he had a much better knowledge of all matters of art that had been shown by his father Baccio.

In our book are some drawings by the hand both of the one and of the other; but those of Raffaello are much the finer and more graceful, and executed with better art. In his architectural decorations Raffaello followed in great measure the manner of Michelangelo, as is proved by the chimney-pieces, doors, and windows that he made in the aforesaid Castello di S. Angelo, and by some chapels built under his direction, in a rare and beautiful manner, at Orvieto,

But returning to Baccio: his death was a great grief to the people of Lucca, who had known him as a good and upright man, courteous to all, and very loving. Baccio's works date about the year of our Lord 1533. His dearest friend, who learnt many things from him, was Zaccaria da Volterra, who executed many works in terra-cotta at Bologna, some of which are in the Church of S. Giuseppe.




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