Bibliography: Benvenuto Cellini.; Francesco di Giuliano da San Gallo; Bartolommeo Ammannati; Giovanni da Bologna; Vincenzo Danti;
NOW, to say something also of the sculptors in our Academy and of their works, although I do not intend to speak of them at any length, because they are alive and for the most part most illustrious in name and fame, I say that Benvenuto Cellini, a citizen of Florence, who is now a sculptor (to begin with the oldest and most honored), had no peer in his youth when he was a goldsmith, nor perhaps had he for many years any equal in that profession and in making most beautiful figures in the round and in low relief, and all the other works of that craft. He set jewels, and adorned them with marvelous collets and with little figures so well wrought, and at times so bizarre and fantastic, that it is not possible to imagine anything finer or better. And the medals that he made in his youth, of silver and gold, were executed with incredible diligence, nor can they ever be praised enough. He made in Rome for Pope Clement VII a very beautiful morse for a pluvial, setting in it excellently well a pointed diamond surrounded by some children made of gold plate, and a God the Father marvelously wrought; wherefore, besides his payment, he received as a gift from that Pope an office of mace-bearer.
Being then commissioned by the same Pontiff to make a chalice of gold, the cup of which was to be supported by figures representing the Theological Virtues, he carried it near completion with most marvelous artistry. In these same times there was no one who made the medals of that Pope better than he did, among the many who essayed it, as those well know who saw his medals and possess them; and since for these reasons he received the charge of making the dies for the Mint of Rome, no more beautiful coins have ever been seen than were struck in Rome at that time. Wherefore Benvenuto, after the death of Clement, having returned to Florence, likewise made dies with the head of Duke Alessandro for the coins of the Mint of Florence, so beautiful and wrought with such diligence, that some of them are now preserved as if they were most beautiful antique medals, and that rightly, for the reason that in these he surpassed himself.
Having finally given himself to sculpture and to the work of casting, Benvenuto executed in France many works in bronze, silver, and gold, while he was in the service of King Francis in that kingdom. Then, having returned to his own country and entered the service of Duke Cosimo, he was first employed in some goldsmithsU work, and in the end was given some works of sculpture; whereupon he executed in metal the statue of the Perseus that has cut off the head of Medusa, which is in the Piazza del Duca, near the door of the Ducal Palace, upon a base of marble with some very beautiful figures in bronze, each about one braccio and a third in height. This whole work was carried to perfection with the greatest possible study and diligence, and set up in the above-named place as a worthy companion to the Judith by the hand of Donato, that famous and celebrated sculptor. And certainly it was a marvel that Benvenuto, after being occupied for so many years in making little figures, executed so great a statue with such excellence.
The same master has made a Crucifix of marble, in the round and large as life, which of its kind is the rarest and most beautiful piece of sculpture that there is to be seen. Wherefore the Lord Duke keeps it, as a thing most dear to him, in the Pitti Palace, intending to place it in the chapel, or rather, little church, that he is building in that place; which little church could not have in these times anything more worthy of itself and of so great a Prince. In short, it is not possible to praise this work so much as would be sufficient. Now, although I could enlarge at much greater length on the works of Benvenuto, who has been in his every action spirited, proud, vigorous, most resolute, and truly terrible, and a person who has been only too well able to speak for himself with Princes, no less than to employ his hand and brain in matters of art, I shall say nothing more of him here, seeing that he has written of his own life and works, and a treatise on the goldsmithUs arts, and on founding and casting in metal, with other things pertaining to such arts, and also of sculpture, with much more eloquence and order than I perchance would be able to use here; as for him, therefore, I must be content with this short summary of the rarest of his principal works.
Francesco di Giuliano da San Gallo, sculptor, architect, and Academician, and now a man seventy years of age, has executed many works of sculpture, as has been related in the Life of his father and elsewhere; the three figures of marble, somewhat larger than life, which are over the altar of the Church of Orsanmichele, St. Anne, the Virgin, and the Child Christ, figures which are much extolled; certain other statues, also in marble, for the tomb of Piero deU Medici at Monte Cassino; the tomb of Bishop deU Marzi, which is in the Nunziata, and that of Monsignor Giovio, the writer of the history of his own times. In architecture, likewise, the same Francesco has executed many good and beautiful works in Florence and elsewhere; and he has well deserved, both for his own good qualities and for the services of his father Giuliano, to be always favored by the house of Medici as their protege on which account Duke Cosimo, after the death of Baccio dUAgnolo, gave him the place which that master had held as architect to the Duomo of Florence.
Of Ammanati, who is also among the first of our Academicians, enough having been said of him in the description of the works of Jacopo Sansovino, there is no need to speak further here. But I will record that disciples of his, and also Academicians, are Andrea Calamech of Carrara, a well-practiced sculptor, who executed many figures under Ammanati, and was invited to Messina after the death of the above-named Martino to take the position which Fra Giovanni Agnolo had once held, in which place he died; and Battista di Benedetto, a young man who has given promise of becoming, as he will, an excellent master, having demonstrated already by many works that he is not inferior to the above-named Andrea or to any other of the young sculptors of our Academy, in beauty of genius and judgment.
Vincenzio de' Rossi of Fiesole, likewise a sculptor, architect, and Academician of Florence, is worthy to have some record made of him in this place, in addition to what has been said of him in the Life of Baccio Bandinelli, whose disciple he was. After he had taken leave of Baccio, then, he gave a great proof of his powers in Rome, although he was young enough, in the statue that he made for the Ritonda, of a St. Joseph with Christ as a boy of ten years, both figures wrought with good mastery and a beautiful manner. He then executed two tombs in the Church of Santa Maria della Pace, with the effigies of those who are within them on the sarcophagi, and on the front without some Prophets of marble in half-relief and large as life, which acquired for him the name of an excellent sculptor. Whereupon there was allotted to him by the Roman people the statue of Pope Paul IV, which was placed on the Campidoglio; and he executed it excellently well. But that work had a short life, for the reason that after the death of the Pope it was thrown to the ground and destroyed by the populace, which persecutes fiercely one day the very men whom it has exalted to the heavens the day before.
After that figure Vincenzio made from one block of marble two statues a little larger than life, a Theseus, King of Athens, who has carried off Helen and holds her in his arms in the act of knowing her, with a Troy beneath his feet; than which figures it is not possible to make any with more diligence, study, labor, and grace. Wherefore when Duke Cosimo deU Medici, having journeyed to Rome, and going to see the modern works worthy to be seen no less than the antiques, saw those statues, Vincenzio himself showing them to him, he extolled them very highly, as they deserved; and then Vincenzio, who is a gentle spirit, courteously presented them to him, and at the same time freely offered him his services. But his Excellency, having conveyed them not long afterwards to his Palace of the Pitti in Florence, paid him a good price for them; and, having taken Vincenzio himself with him, he commissioned him after no long time to execute the Labors of Hercules in figures of marble larger than life and in the round. On these Vincenzio is now spending his time, and already he has carried to completion the Slaying of Cacus and the combat with the Centaur; which whole work, even as it is most exalted in subject and also laborious, so it is hoped that it will prove excellent in artistry, Vincenzio being a man of very beautiful genius and much judgment, and prodigal of thought in all his works of importance.
Nor must I omit to say that under his discipline Ilarione Ruspoli, a young citizen of Florence, gives his attention with much credit to sculpture; which Ilarione, no less than his peers in our Academy, showed that he had knowledge, design, and a good mastery in the making of statues, when he had occasion together with the others in the obsequies of Michelangelo and in the festive preparations for the nuptials named above.
Francesco Camilliani, a sculptor and Academician of Florence, who was a disciple of Baccio Bandinelli, after having given in many works proof of being a good sculptor, has consumed fifteen years in making ornaments for fountains; and of such there is one most stupendous, which the Lord Don Luigi di Toledo has caused to be executed for his garden in Florence. The ornaments about that garden are various statues of men and animals in divers manners, all rich and truly regal, and wrought without sparing of expense; and among other statues that Francesco has made for that place, two larger than life, which represent the Rivers Arno and Mugnone, are of supreme beauty, and particularly the Mugnone, which can bear comparison with no matter what statue by an excellent master. In short, all the architecture and ornamentation of that garden are the work of Francesco, who by the richness of the various fountains has made it such, that it has no equal in Florence, and perhaps not in Italy. And the principal fountain, which is even now being carried to completion, will be the richest and most sumptuous to be seen in any place, with its wealth of the richest and finest ornaments that can be imagined, and the great abundance of waters that will be there, flowing without fail at every season.
Also an Academician, and much in favor with our Princes for his talents, is Giovan Bologna of Douai, a Flemish sculptor and a young man truly of the rarest, who has executed with most beautiful ornaments of metal the fountain that has been made recently on the Piazza di San Petronio in Bologna, opposite to the Palazzo deU Signori, in which there are, besides other ornaments, four very beautiful Sirens at the corners, with various children all around, and masks bizarre and extraordinary. But the most notable thing is a figure that he has made and placed over the center of that fountain, a Neptune of six braccia, which is a most beautiful casting and a statue studied and wrought to perfection. The same masterQnot to speak at present of all the works that he has executed in clay, terracotta, wax, and other mixturesQhas made a very beautiful Venus in marble, and has carried almost to completion for the Lord Prince a Samson large as life, who is combating on foot with two Philistines. And in bronze he has made a statue of Bacchus, larger than life and in the round, and a Mercury in the act of flying, a very ingenious figure, the whole weight resting on one leg and on the point of the foot, which has been sent to the Emperor Maximilian, as a thing that is indeed most rare.
But if up to the present he has executed many works, he will do many more in the future, and most beautiful, for recently the Lord Prince has had him provided with rooms in the Palace, and has commissioned him to make a statue of a Victory of five braccia, with a captive, which is going into the Great Hall, opposite another by the hand of Michelangelo; and he will execute for that Prince large and important works, in which he will have an ample field to show his worth. Many works by his hand, and very beautiful models of various things, are in the possession of M. Bernardo Vecchietti, a gentleman of Florence, and Maestro Bernardo di Mona Mattea, builder to the Duke, who has constructed with great excellence all the fabrics designed by Vasari.
Not less than this Giovan Bologna and his friends and other sculptors of our Academy, Vincenzio Danti of Perugia, who under the protection of Duke Cosimo has adopted Florence as his country, is a young man truly rare and of fine genius. Vincenzio, when a youth, worked as a goldsmith, and executed in that profession things beyond belief; and afterwards, having applied himself to the work of casting, he had the courage at the age of twenty to cast in bronze a statue of Pope Julius III, four braccia high, seated and giving the Benediction; which statue, a Very creditable]e work, is now in the Piazza of Perugia. Then, having come to Florence to serve Duke Cosimo, he made a very beautiful model in wax, larger than life, of a Hercules crushing Antaeus, in order to cast from it a figure in bronze, which was to be placed over the principal fountain in the garden of Castello, a villa of the said Lord Duke. But, having made the mould upon that model, in seeking to cast it in bronze it did not succeed, although he returned twice to the work; either by bad fortune, or because the metal was burnt, or for some other reason. Having then turned, in order not to subject his labors to the whim of chance, to working in marble, he executed in a short time from one single piece of marble two figures, Honor with Deceit beneath it, and with such diligence, that it seemed as if he had never done anything but handle the hammer and chisels; and on the head of Honor, which is beautiful, he made the hair curling and so well pierced through, that it seems real and natural, besides displaying a very good knowledge of the nude. That statue is now in the courtyard of the house of Signor Sforza Almeni in the Via deU Servi. And at Fiesole, for the same Signor Sforza, he made many ornaments in his garden and around certain fountains.
Afterwards he executed for the Lord Duke some low reliefs in marble and in bronze, which were held to be very beautiful, for in that manner of sculpture he is perhaps not inferior to any other master. He then cast, also in bronze, the grating of the chapel built in the new apartments of the Palace, which were painted by Giorgio Vasari, and with it a panel with many figures in low relief, which serves to close a press wherein the Duke keeps writings of importance; and another panel one braccio and a half in height and two and a half in breadth, representing how Moses, in order to heal the Hebrew people from the bites of the serpents, placed one upon a pole. All these things are in the possession of that lord, by order of whom he made the door of the sacristy in the Pieve of Prato, and over it a sarcophagus of marble, with a Madonna three braccia and a half high, and beside her the Child nude, and two little children that are one on either side of a head in low relief of Messer Carlo deU Medici, the natural son of the elder Cosimo, and once Provost of Prato, whose bones, after having long been in a tomb of brick, Duke Cosimo has caused to be laid in the above-named sarcophagus, thus giving him honorable sepulture; although it is true that the said Madonna and the head in low relief (which is very beautiful), being in a bad light, do not show up by a great measure as they should.
The same Vincenzio has since made, in order to adorn the residence of the Magistrates of the Mint, on the head-wall over the loggia that is on the River Arno, an escutcheon of the Duke with two nude figures, larger than life, on either side of it, one representing Equity and the other Rigor; and from hour to hour he is expecting the marble to make the statue of the Lord Duke himself, considerably larger than life, of which he has made a model; and that statue is to be placed seated over the escutcheon, as a completion to the work, which is to be built shortly, together with the rest of the facade, which Vasari, who is the architect of that fabric, is even now superintending. He has also in hand, and has carried very near completion, a Madonna of marble larger than life, standing with Jesus, a Child of three months, in her arms; which will be a very beautiful work. All these works, together with others, he is executing in the Monastery of the Angeli in Florence, where he lives quietly in company with these monks, who are much his friends, in the rooms that were once occupied there by Messer Benedetto Varchi, of whom the same Vincenzio is making a portrait in low relief, which will be very beautiful.
Vincenzio has a brother in the Order of Preaching Friars, called Fra Ignazio Danti, who is very excellent in matters of cosmography, and of a rare genius, insomuch that Duke Cosimo de' Medici is causing him to execute a work than which none greater or more perfect has ever been done at any time in that profession; which is as follows. His Excellency, under the direction of Vasari, has built a new hall of some size expressly as an addition to the guardaroba, on the second floor of the apartments in the Ducal Palace; and this he has furnished all around with presses seven braccia high, with rich carvings of walnut-wood, in order to deposit in them the most important, precious, and beautiful things that he possesses.
Over the doors of those presses, within their ornaments, Fra Ignazio has distributed fifty-seven pictures about two braccia high and wide in proportion, in which are painted in oils on the wood with the greatest diligence, after the manner of miniatures, the Tables of Ptolemy, all measured with perfect accuracy and corrected after the most recent authorities, with exact charts of navigation and their scales for measuring and degrees, done with supreme diligence; and with these are all the names, both ancient and modern. His distribution of these pictures is on this wise. At the principal entrance of the hall, on the transverse surfaces of the thickness of the presses, in four pictures, are four half-spheres in perspective; in the two below is the Universe of the Earth, and in the two above is the Universe of the Heavens, with its signs and celestial figures. Then as one enters, on the right hand, there is an Europe in fourteen tables and pictures, one after another, as far as the center of the wall that is at the head, opposite to the principal door; in which center is placed the clock with the wheels and with the spheres of the planets that every day go through their motions, which is that clock, so famous and renowned, made by the Florentine Lorenzo della Volpaia. Above these tables is Africa in eleven tables, as far as the said clock; and then, beyond that clock, Asia in the lower range, which continues likewise in fourteen tables as far as the principal door.
Above these tables of Asia, in fourteen other tables, there follow the West Indies, beginning like the others from the clock, and continuing as far as the same principal door; and thus there are in an fifty-seven tables. In the base at the foot, in an equal number of pictures running right round, which will be exactly in line with those tables, are to be all the plants and an the animals copied from nature, according to the kinds that those countries produce. Over the cornice of the presses, which is the crown of the whole, there are to be some projections separating the pictures, and upon these are to be placed such of the antique heads in marble as are in existence of the Emperors and Princes who have possessed those lands; and on the plain walls up to the cornice of the ceiling, which is all of carved wood and painted in twelve great pictures, each with four celestial signs, making in all forty-eight, and little less than life-size, with their stars--there are beneath, as I have said, on those walls, three hundred portraits from life of distinguished persons for the last five hundred years or more, painted in pictures in oils (and a note will be made of them in the table of portraits, in order not to make too long a story here with their names), all of one size, and with one and the same ornament of carved walnut wood--a very rare effect.
In the two compartments in the center of the ceiling, each four braccia wide, where there are the celestial signs, which open with ease without revealing the secret of the hiding-place, in a part after the manner of a heaven, will be accommodated two large globes, each three braccia and a half in height. In one of them will be the whole earth, marked distinctly, and this will be let down by a windlass that will not be seen, down to the floor, and will rest on a balanced pedestal, so that, when fixed, there will be seen reflected all the tables that are right round in the pictures of the presses, and they will have a countermark in the globe wherewith to find them with ease. In the other globe will be the forty-eight celestial signs arranged in such a manner, that it will be possible with it to perform an the operations of the Astrolabe to perfection. This fanciful invention came from Duke Cosimo, who wished to put together once and for all these things both of heaven and of earth, absolutely exact and without errors, so that it might be possible to see and measure them separately and all together, according to the pleasure of those who delight in this most beautiful profession and study it; of which, as a thing worthy to be recorded, it has seemed to me my duty to make mention in this place on account of the art of Fra Ignazio and the greatness of the Prince, who holds us worthy to enjoy such honorable labors, and also to the end that it may be known throughout the whole world.
And now to return to the men of our Academy; although I have spoken in the Life of Tribolo of Antonio di Gino Lorenzi, a sculptor of Settignano, I must record here with better order, as in the proper place, that he executed under his master Tribolo the statue of Asculapius described above, which is at Castello, and four children that are in the great fountain of that place; and since then he has made some heads and ornaments that are about the new fish-pond of Castello, which is high up there in the midst of various kinds of trees of perpetual verdure. Recently he has made in the lovely garden of the stables, near San Marco, most beautiful ornaments for an isolated fountain, with many very fine aquatic animals of white and variegated marble; and in Pisa he once executed under the direction of the above-named Tribolo the tomb of Corte, a most excellent philosopher and physician, with his statue and two very beautiful children of marble. In addition to these, he is even now executing new works for the Duke, of animals and birds in variegated marble for fountains, works of the greatest difficulty, which make him well worthy to be in the number of these our Academicians.
In like manner, a brother of Antonio, called Stoldo di Gino Lorenzi, a young man thirty years of age, has acquitted himself in such a manner up to the present in many works of sculpture, that he may now be numbered with justice among the first of the young men in his profession, and set in the most honorable place in their midst. At Pisa he has executed in marble a Madonna receiving the Annunciation from the Angel, which has made him known as a young man of beautiful judgment and genius; and Luca Martini caused him to make another very lovely statue in Pisa, which was presented afterwards by the Lady Duchess Leonora to the Lord Don Garzia di Toledo, her brother, who has placed it in his garden on the Chiaia at Naples. The same Stoldo has made, under the direction of Vasari, in the center of the facade of the Palace of the Knights of Santo Stephen at Pisa, over the principal door, a very large escutcheon in marble of the Lord Duke, their Grand Master, between two statues in the round, Religion and Justice, which are truly most beautiful and highly extolled by all those who are good judges. The same lord has since caused him to execute a fountain for his garden of the Pitti, after the likeness of the beautiful Triumph of Neptune that was seen in the superb masquerade which his Excellency held for the above-mentioned nuptials of the most illustrious Lord Prince. And let this suffice for Stoldo Lorenzi, who is young and is constantly working and acquiring more and more fame and honor among his companions of the Academy.
Of the same family of the Lorenzi of Settignano is Battista, called Battista del Cavaliere from his having been a disciple of the Chevalier Baccio Bandinelli; who has executed in marble three statues of the size of life, which Bastiano del Pace, a citizen of Florence, has caused him to make for the Guadagni, who live in France, and who have placed them in a garden that belongs to them. These are a nude Spring, a Summer, and a Winter, which are to be accompanied by an Autumn; which statues have been held by many who have seen them, to be beautiful and executed with no ordinary excellence. Wherefore Battista has well deserved to be chosen by the Lord Duke to make the sarcophagus, with the ornaments, and one of the three statues that are to be on the tomb of Michelangelo Buonarroti, which his Excellency and Leonardo Buonarroti are carrying out after the design of Giorgio Vasari; which work, as may be seen, Battista is carrying to completion excellently well, with certain little boys, and the figure of Buonarroti himself from the breast upwards.
The second of these three figures that are to be on that sepulcher, which are to by Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, has been allotted to Giovanni di Benedetto of Castello, a disciple of Baccio Bandinelli and an Academician, who is executing for the Wardens of Santa Maria del Fiore the works in low relief that are going round the choir, which is now near completion. In these he is closely imitating his master, and acquitting himself in such a manner that an excellent result is expected of him; nor will it fall out otherwise, seeing that he is very assiduous in his work and in the studies of his profession.
The third figure has been allotted to Valerio Cioli of Settignano, a sculptor and Academician, for the reason that the other works that he has executed up to the present have been such, that it is thought that the said figure must prove to be so good as to be not otherwise than worthy to be placed on the tomb of so great a man. Valerio, who is a young man twenty-six years of age, has restored many antique statues of marble in the garden of the Cardinal of Ferrara at Monte Cavallo in Rome, making for some of them new arms, for some new feet, and for others other parts that were wanting; and he has since done the same for many statues in the Pitti Palace, which the Duke has conveyed there for the adornment of a great hall. The Duke has also caused the same Valerio to make a nude statue of the dwarf Morgante in marble, which has proved so beautiful and so like the reality, that probably there has never been seen another monster so well wrought, nor one executed with such diligence, lifelike and faithful to nature. In like manner, he has caused him to execute the statue of Pietro, called Barbino, a gifted dwarf, well-lettered and a very gentle spirit, and a favorite of our Duke. For all these reasons, I say, Valerio has well deserved that there should be allotted to him by his Excellency the statue that is to adorn the tomb of Buonarroti, the one master of an these able men of the Academy.
As for Francesco Moschino, a sculptor of Florence, enough having been spoken of him in another place, it suffices here to say that he also is an Academician, that under the protection of Duke Cosimo he is constantly at work in the Duomo of Pisa, and that among the festive preparations for the nuptials he acquitted himself excellently well in the decorations of the principal door of the Ducal Palace.
Of Domenico Poggini, likewise, having said above that he is an able sculptor and that he has executed an infinity of medals very faithful to the reality, and some works in marble and in casting, I shall say nothing more of him here, save that he is deservedly one of our Academicians, that for the above-named nuptials he made some very beautiful statues, which were placed upon the Arch of Religion at the Canto della Paglia, and that recently he has executed a new medal of the Duke, very true to the life and most beautiful; and he is still continually at work.
Giovanni Fancelli, or rather, as others call him, Giovanni di Stocco, an Academician, has executed many works in marble and stone, which have proved good sculptures; among others, much extolled is an escutcheon of balls with two children and other ornaments, placed on high over the two knee-shaped windows of the facade~ of Ser Giovanni Conti in Florence. And the same I say of Zanobi Lastricati, who, as a good and able sculptor, has executed and is still executing many works in marble and in casting, which have made him well worthy to be in the Academy in company with those named above; and, among his works, much praised is a Mercury of bronze that is in the court of the Palace of M. Lorenzo Ridolfi, for it is a figure wrought with all the considerations that are requisite.
Finally, there have been accepted into the Academy some young sculptors who executed honorable and praiseworthy works in the above named preparations for the nuptials of his Highness; and these were Fra Giovanni Vincenzio of the Servites, a disciple of Fra Giovanni Agnolo; Ottaviano del Collettaio, a pupil of Zanobi Lastricati, and Pompilio Lancia, the son of Baldassarre da Urbino, architect and pupil of Girolamo Genga; which Pompilio, in the masquerade called the Genealogy of the Gods, arranged for the most part, and particularly the mechanical contrivances, by the said Baldassarre, his father, acquitted himself in certain things excellently well.
In these last pages we have shown at some length what kind of men, and how many and how able, have been gathered together to form so noble an Academy, and we have touched in part on the many and honorable occasions obtained by them from their most liberal lords, wherein to display their capacity and ability. Nevertheless, to the end that this may be the better understood, although those first learned writers, in their descriptions of the arches and of the various spectacles represented in those splendid nuptials, made it very well known, yet, since there has been given into my hands the following little work, written by way of exercise by a person of leisure who delights not a little in our profession, to a dear and close friend who was not able to see those festivities, forming the most brief account and comprising everything in one, it has seemed to me my duty, for the satisfaction of my brother-craftsmen, to insert it in this volume, adding to it a few words, to the end that it may be more easy, by thus uniting rather than separating it, to preserve an honorable record of their noble labors.