Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists
*N.B.: Because of the great length of the biography of Jacopo Sansovino, and because of the inclusion of Lives of several other artists of interest, Sansovino's Life has here been divided so that his disciples have their own pages. Note that Vasari included here Andrea Palladio, who is not of course a follower of Sansovino.
Above: Madonna del Parto. Sant'Agostino, Rome.
THE FAMILY OF THE TATTI in Florence is recorded in the books of the Commune from the year 1300, because, having come from Lucca, a very noble city of Tuscany, it was always abundant in industrious and honored men, and they were most highly favored by the family of the de' Medici. Of this family was born Jacopo, of whom we are writing in this place; and he was born of Antonio, a most excellent person, and his wife Francesca, in the month of January, 1477.
In the first years of his boyhood he was set, as is usual, to learn his letters; and, after beginning to show in these vivacity of intellect and readiness of spirit, not long afterwards he applied himself of his own accord to drawing, giving evidence in a certain sort that nature was inclining him much more to this kind of work than to letters, for the reason that he went very unwillingly to school and learned much against his will the scabrous rudiments of grammar. His mother, whom he resembled strongly, perceiving this and fostering his genius, gave him assistence, causing him to be taught design in secret, because she loved the thought that her son should be a sculptor, perchance in emulation of the then rising glory of Michelangelo Buonarroti, who at that time was still quite young; and also moved by a certain fateful augury, in that Michelangelo and this Jacopo had been born in one and the same street, called Via Santa Maria, near the Via Ghibellina. Now the boy, after some time, was placed to learn the trade of a merchant; in which delighting even less than in letters, he did and said so much, that he obtained leave from his father to attend without hindrance to that towards which he was urged by nature.
At that time there came to Florence Andrea Contucci from Monte a Sansovino, a town near Arezzo, most famous in our days as the home of Pope Julius III. Andrea, having already acquired in Italy and Spain the name of the most excellent sculptor and architect that there was in art after Buonarroti, was living in Florence in order to execute the two figures of marble that were to be placed over that door of the Temple of San Giovanni which faces towards the Misericordia. Jacopo was sent to him to be taught the art of sculpture. Whereupon Andrea, having recognized how excellent in sculpture the young man was destined to become, did not fail to teach him with all possible care all those things which might make him known as his disciple. And so, loving him very dearly, and doing his best for him with much affection, and being loved by the young man with equaltenderness, people judged that the pupil would not only become asexcellent as his master, but would by a great measure surpass him. And such were the reciprocal friendliness and love between these two, as it were between father and son, that Jacopo in those early years began to be called no longer Tatti, but Sansovino, and so he has always been, and always will be.
Now, Jacopo beginning to exercise his hand, he was so assisted by Nature in the things that he did, that, although at times he did not use much study and diligence in his work, nevertheless in what he did there could be seen facility, sweetness, grace, and a certain delicacy very pleasing to the eyes of craftsmen, insomuch that his every sketch, rough study, and model has always had a movement and a boldness that Nature is wont to give to but few sculptors. Moreover, the friendship and contact that Andrea del Sarto and Jacopo Sansovino had with each other in their childhood, and then in their youth, assisted not a little both the one and the other, for they followed the same manner in design and had the same grace in execution, one in painting and the other in sculpture, and, conferring together on the problems of art, and Jacopo making models of figures for Andrea, they gave one another very great assistance. And that this is true a proof is that in the altarpiece of San Francesco, belonging to the Nuns of the Via Pentolini, there is a St. John the Evangelist which was copied from a most beautiful model in clay that Sansovino made in those days in competition with Baccio da Montelupo; for the guild of Por Santa Maria wished to have a bronze statue of four braccia made for a niche at the corner of Orsanmichele, opposite to the Wool-Shearers, for which Jacopo made a more beautiful model in clay than Baccio, but nevertheless it was allotted to Montelupo, from his being the older master, rather than to Sansovino, although his work, young as he was, was the better. That model, which is a very beautiful thing, is now in the possession of the heirs of Nanni Unghero; for which Nanni being then his friend, Sansovino made some models of large putti in clay, and the model for a figure of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, which were all executed life-size in wood, with the assistance of Sansovino, and placed in the Chapel of that Saint in the Church of Santo Spirito.
Becoming known for these reasons to all the craftsmen of Florence, and being considered a young man of fine parts and excellent character, Jacopo was taken to Rome by Giuliano da San Gallo, architect to Pope Julius II, vastly to his satisfaction; and then, taking extraordinary pleasure in the ancient statues that are in the Belvedere, he set himself to draw them. Whereupon Bramante, who was likewise architect to Pope Julius, holding the first place at that time and dwelling in the Belvedere, having seen some drawings by this young man, and a nude recumbent figure of clay in full-relief, holding a vessel to contain ink, which he had made, liked them so much that he took him under his protection and ordered him that he should make a large copy in wax of the Laocoon, which he was having copied also by others, in order to take a cast in bronze--namely, by Zaccheria Zacchi of Volterra, the Spaniard Alonzo Berughetta, and Vecchio of Bologna.
These, when all were finished, Bramante caused to be seen by Raffaello Sanzio of Urbino, in order to learn which of the four had acquitted himself best; whereupon it was judged by Raffaello that Sansovino, young as he was, had surpassed the others by a great measure. Then, by the advice of Cardinal Domenico Grimani, orders were given to Bramante that he should have Jacopo's copy cast in bronze; and so the mould was made, and the work, being cast in metal, came out very well. And afterwards, having been polished, it was given to the Cardinal, who held it as long as he lived not less dear than if it had been the antique; and when he came to die, he left it as a very rare thing to the most Serene Signoria of Venice, which, after having kept it many years in the press of the Hall of the Council of Ten, finally in the year 1534 presented it to the Cardinal of Lorraine, who took it to France.
While Sansovino was acquiring greater fame every day in Rome with his studies in art, being held in much consideration, Giuliano da San Gallo, who had been keeping him in his house in the Borgo Vecchio, fell ill; and when he departed from Rome in a litter, in order to go to Florence for a change of air, a room was found for Jacopo by Bramante, likewise in the Borgo Vecchio, in the Palace of Domenico della Rovere, Cardinal of San Clemente, where Pietro Perugino was also dwelling, who at that time was painting for Pope Julius the vaulting of the chamber in the Borgia Tower. Whereupon Pietro, having seen the beautiful manner of Sansovino, caused him to make many models in wax for himself, and among them a Christ taken down from the Cross, with many ladders and figures, fully in the round, which was a very beautiful thing. This and other things of the same sort, and models of various fantasies, were all collected afterwards by Monsignor Giovanni Gaddi, and they are now in his house on the Piazza di Madonna in Florence.
** These works were the reason, I say, that Sansovino became very intimately associated with Maestro Luca Signorelli, the painter of Cortona, with Bramantino da Milano, with Bernardino Pinturicchio, with Cesare Cesariano, who was in repute at that time for his commentaries on Vitruvius, and with many other famous and beautiful intellects of that age. Bramante, then, desiring that Sansovino should become known to Pope Julius, arranged to have some antiques restored by him; whereupon Jacopo, setting to work, displayed such diligence and so much grace in restoring them, that the Pope and all who saw them judged that nothing better could be done. These praises so spurred Sansovino to surpass himself, that, having given himself beyond measure to his studies, and being, also, somewhat delicate in constitution and suffering from some excess such as young men commit, he became so ill that he was forced for the sake of his life to return to Florence, where, profiting by his native air, by the advantage of his youth, and by the diligence and care of the physicians, in a short time he completely recovered. Now Messier Piero Pitti was arranging at that time to have a Madonna of marble made for that facade of the Mercato Nuovo in Florence, where the clock is, and it appeared to him, since there were in Florence many young men of ability and also old masters, that the work should be given to that one among them who might make the best model. Whereupon one was given to Baccio da Montelupo to execute, one to Zaccheria Zacchi of Volterra, who that same year had likewise returned to Florence, another to Baccio Bandinelli, and yet another to Sansovino. When these were placed in comparison, the honour and the work were given by Lorenzo di Credi, an excellent painter and a person of judgment and probity, and likewise by the other judges, craftsmen, and connoisseurs, to Sansovino.
But, although this work was therefore allotted to him, nevertheless so much delay was caused in procuring and conveying the marble for him, by the envious machinations of Averardo da Filicaia, who greatly favoured Bandinelli and hated Sansovino, that he was ordered by certain other citizens, having perceived that delay, to make one of the large Apostles in marble that were going into the Church of S. Maria del Fiore. Wherefore, having made the model of S. James (which model, when the work was finished, came into the possession of Messier Bindo Altoviti), he began that figure and, continuing to work at it with all diligence and study, he carried it to completion so perfectly, that it is a miraculous figure and shows in all its parts that it was wrought with incredible study and care, the draperies, arms, and hands being undercut and executed with such art and such grace, that there is nothing better in marble to be seen.
Thus, Sansovino showed in what way undercut draperies should be executed, having made these so delicate and so natural, that in some places he reduced the marble to the thickness that is seen in real folds and in the edges and hems of the borders of draperies; a difficult method, and one demanding much time and patience if you wish that it should so succeed as to display the perfection of art. That figure remained in the Office of Works from the time when it was finished by Sansovino until the year 1565, at which time, in the month of December, it was placed in the Church of S. Maria del Fiore to do honor to the coming of Queen Joanna of Austria, the wife of Don Francesco de' Medici, Prince of Florence and Siena. And there it is kept as a very rare work, together with the other Apostles, likewise in marble, executed in competition by other craftsmen, as has been related in their Lives.
At this same time he made for Messer Giovanni Gaddi a Venus of marble on a shell, of great beauty, as was also the model, which was in the house of Messer Francesco Montevardi, a friend of these arts, but came to an evil end in the inundation of the River Arno in the year 1558. He also made a boy of tow and a swan as beautiful as could be, of marble, for the same M. Giovanni Gaddi, together with many other things, which are all in his house. For Messer Bindo Altoviti he had a chimney-piece of great cost made, all in greystone carved by Benedetto da Rovezzano, which was placed in his house in Florence, and Messer Bindo caused Sansovino to make a scene with little figures for placing in the frieze of that chimney-piece, with Vulca and other Gods, which was a very rare work; but much more beautiful are two boys of marble that were above the crow of the chimney-piece, holding some arms of the Altoviti in their hands, which have been removed by Signor Don Luigi di Toledo, who inhabits the house of the above-named Messer Bindo, and placed about a fountain in his garden, behind the Servite Friars, in Florence. Two other boys of extraordinary beauty, also of marble and by the same hand, who are likewise holding an escutcheon, are in the house of Giovan Francesco Ridolfi. All these works caused Sansovino to be held by the men of art and by all Florence to be a most excellent and gracious master; on which account Giovanni Bartolini, having caused a house to be built in his garden of Gualfonda, desired that Sansovino should make for him a young Bacchus in marble, of the size of life.
Whereupon the model for this was made by Sansovino, and it pleased Giovanni so much, that he had him supplied with the marble, and Jacopo began it with such eagerness, that his hands and brain flew as he worked. This work, I say, he studied in such a manner, in order to make it perfect, that he set himself to portray from the life, although it was winter, an assistant of his called Pippo del Fabbro, making him stand naked a good part of the day. Which Pippo del Fabbro, would have become a capable craftsman, for he was striving with every effort to imitate his master; but, whether it was the standing naked with the head uncovered at that season, or that he studied too much and suffered hardships, before the Bacchus was finished, he went mad, copying the attitudes of that figure. And this he showed one day that it was raining in torrents, when, Sansovino calling out "Pippo!" and he not answering, the master afterwards saw him mounted on the summit of a chimney on the roof, wholly naked and striking the attitude of his Bacchus. At other times, taking a sheet or other large piece of cloth, and wetting it, he would wrap it round his naked body, as if he were a model of clay or rags, and arrange the folds; and then, climbing up to some extraordinary place, and settling himself now in one attitude and now in another, as a Prophet, an Apostle, a soldier, or something else, he would have himself portrayed, standing thus for a period of two hours without speaking, not otherwise than as if he had been a motionless statue. Many other amusing follies of that kind poor Pippo played, but above all he was never able to forget the Bacchus that Sansovino had made, save only when he died, a few years afterwards.
But to return to the statue when it was carried to completion, it was held to be the most beautiful work that had ever been executed by a modern master, seeing that in it Sansovino overcame a difficulty never yet attempted, in making an arm raised in the air and detached on every side, which holds between the fingers a cup all cut out of the same marble with such delicacy, that the attachment is very slight, besides which the attitude is so well conceived and balanced on every side, and the legs and arms are so beautiful and so well proportioned and attached to the trunk, that to the eye and to the touch the whole seems much more like living flesh; insomuch that the fame that it has from all who see it is well deserved, and even more. This work, I say, when finished, while Giovanni was alive, was visited in that courtyard in the Gualfonda by everyone, native and stranger alike, and much extolled. But afterwards, Giovanni being dead, his brother Gherardo Bartolini presented it to Duke Cosimo, who keeps it as a rare thing in his apartments, together with other most beautiful statues of marble that he possesses. For the same Giovanni Sansovino made a very beautiful Crucifix of wood, which is in their house in company with many works by the ancients and by the hand of Michelagnolo.
In the year 1514, when festive preparations of great richness were to be made in Florence for the coming of Pope Leo X, orders were given by the Signoria and by Giuliano de'Medici that many triumphal arches of wood should be made in various parts of the city. Whereupon Sansovino not only executed the designs for many of these, but himself undertook in company with Andrea del Sarto to construct the facade of Santa Maria del Fiore all of wood, with statues, scenes, and architectural orders, exactly in the manner wherein it would be well for it to be in order to remove all that there is in it of the German order of composition. Having therefore set his hand to this (to say nothing in this place of the awning of cloth that used to cover the Piazza of S. Maria del Fiore and that of S. Giovanni for the festival of S. John and for others of the greatest solemnity, since we have spoken sufficiently of this in another place), beneath that awning, I say, Sansovino constructed the said facade in the Corinthian Order, making it in the manner of a triumphal arch, and placing upon a immense base double columns on each side, and between them certain great niches filled with figures in the round that represented the Apostles. Above these were some large scenes in half-relief, made in the likeness of bronze, with stories from the Old Testament, some of which are still to be seen in the house of the Lanfredini on the bank of the Arno; and over them followed architraves, friezes, and cornices, projecting outwards, and then frontispieces of great beauty and variety; and in the angles of the arches, both in the wide parts and below, were stories painted in chiaroscuro by the hand of Andrea del Sarto, and very beautiful. In short, this work of Sansovino's was such that Pope Leo, seeing it, said that it was a pity that the real facade of that temple was not so built, which was begun by the German Arnolfo. The same Sansovino made among these festive preparations for the coming of Leo X, besides the said facade, a horse in the round all of clay and shearings of woollen cloth, in the act of rearing, and under it a figure of nine braccia, upon the pedestal of masonry. Which work was executed with such spirit and force, that it pleased Pope Leo and was much extolled by him; wherefore Sansovino was taken by Jacopo Salviati to kiss the feet of the Pope, who showed him many marks of affection.
The Pope departed from Florence, and had a conference at Bologna with King Francis I of France; and then he resolved to return to Florence. Whereupon orders were given to Sansovino that he should make a triumphal arch at the Porta S. Gallo, and he, not falling back in any way from his own standard, executed it similar to the other works that he had done--namely, beautiful to a marvel, and full of statues and painted pictures wrought excellently well. His Holiness having then determined that the facade of S. Lorenzo should be executed in marble, the while that Raffaello da Urbino and Buonarroti were expected from Rome, Sansovino, by order of the Pope, made a design for it; which giving much satisfaction, Baccio d'Agnolo was commissioned to make a model of it in wood, which proved very beautiful. Meanwhile, Buonarroti had made another, and he and Sansovino were ordered to go to Pietrasanta; where, finding much marble, but difficult to transport, they lost so much time, that when they returned to Florence they found the Pope departed for Rome.
Whereupon, both following after him with their models, each by himself, Jacopo arrived at the very moment when BuonarrotiUs model was being shown to his Holiness in the Torre Borgia; but he did not succeed in obtaining what he hoped, because, whereas he believed that he would at least make under Michelagnolo part of the statues that were going into that work, the Pope having spoken of it to him and Michelagnolo having give him so to understand, he perceived on arriving in Rome that Buonarroti wished to be alone in the work. Nevertheless, having made his way to Rome and not wishing to return to Florence without any result, he resolved to remain in Rome and there give his attention to sculpture and architecture.
And so, having undertaken to execute for the Florentine Giovan Francesco Martelli a Madonna in marble larger than life, he made her most beautiful, with the Child in her arms; and this was placed upon an altar within the principal door of S. Agostino, on the right hand as one enters. The clay model of this statue he presented to the Priore deUSalviati, Rome, who placed it in a chapel in his palace on the corner of the Piazza di S. Pietro, at the beginning of the Borgo Nuovo. After no long lapse of time he made for the altar of the chapel that the very reverend Cardinal Alborense had caused to be built in the Church of the Spaniards in Rome, a statue i marble of four braccia, worthy of no ordinary measure of praise, of a S. James, which has a movement full of grace and is executed with judgment and perfect art, so that it won him very great fame. And the while that he was executing these statues, he made the ground-plan and model, and then began the building, of the Church of S. Marcello for the Servite Friars, a work of truly great beauty. Continuing to be employed in matters of architecture, he built for Messer Marco Coscia a very beautiful loggia on the road that leads to Rome, at Pontemolle on the Via Appia.* [*Via Flaminia]
For the Company of the Crocifisso, attached to the Church of S. Marcello, he made a Crucifix for carrying in procession, thing full of grace; and for Cardinal Antonio di Monte he began a great fabric at his villa without Rome, on the Acqua Vergine. And by the hand of Jacopo, perhaps, is a very beautiful portrait in marble of that elder Cardinal di Monte which is now in the Palace of Signor Fabiano at Monte Sansovino, over the door of the principal chamber off the hall. He directed, also, the building of the house of Messer Luigi Leoni, a most commodious edifice, and in the Banchi a palace beside the house of the Gaddi, which was brought afterwards of Filippo Strozzi--certainly a commodious and most beautiful fabric, with many ornaments.
At this time, with the favor of Pope Leo, the Florentine colony had bestirred itself out of emulation of the Germans, Spaniards, and Frenchmen, who had either begun or finished the churches of their colonies in Rome, and had begun to perform their solemn offices in those already built and adorned; and the Florentines had sought leave likewise to build a church for themselves. For which the Pope having given instructions to Lodovico Capponi, the Consul of the Florentine colony at that time, it was determined that behind the Banchi, at the beginning of the Strada Giulia, on the bank of the Tiber, an immense church should be built, to be dedicated to S. John the Baptist; which might surpass in magnificence, grandeur, cost, ornamentation, and design, the churches of all the other colonies. There competed, then, in the making designs for this work, Raffaello da Urbino, Antonio da San Gallo, Baldassare da Siena, and Sansovino; and the Pope, when he had seen all their designs, extolled as the best that of Sansovino, because, besides other things, he had made at each of the four corners of that church a tribune, and a larger tribune in the centre, after the likeness of the plan that Sebastiano Serlio placed in his second book on Architecture. Whereupon, all the heads of the Florentine colony concurring with the will of the Pope, with much approval of Sansovino, the foundations were begun for a part of that church, altogether twenty-two canne* in length. [*A "canna" is equal to about four braccia.]
But, there being not enough space, and yet wishing to make the facade of the church in line with the houses of the Strada Giulia, they were obliged to stretch out into the stream of the Tiber at least fifteen canne; which pleasing many of them, because the grandeur as well as the cost was increased by making the foundations in the river, work was begun on this, and they spent upon it more than forty thousand crowns, which would have been enough to build half the masonry of the church.
In the meantime Sansovino, who was the head of this fabric, while the foundations were being laid little by little, had a fall and suffered a serious injury; and after a few days he had himself carried to Florence for treatment, leaving the charge of laying the rest of the foundations, as has been related, to Antonio da San Gallo. But no long time passed before the Florentine colony, having lost by the death of Leo so great a support and so splendid a Prince, abandoned the building for the duration of the life of Pope Adrian VI. Then, Clement having been elected, it was ordained, in order to pursue the same order and design, that Sansovino should return and carry on that fabric in the same manner wherein he had first arranged it; and so a beginning was made once more with the work. Meanwhile, Sansovino undertook to make the tomb of the Cardinal of Arragon and that of Cardinal Aginense; and he had caused work to be begun on the marbles for the ornaments, and had made many models for the figure, and already Rome was in his hands, and he was executing many works of the greatest importance for all those lords, when God, in order to chastise that city and abate the pride of the inhabitants of Rome, permitted that Bourbon should come with his army on the 6th of May, 1527, and that the whole city should be sacked and put to fire and sword.
In that ruin, besides many other beautiful intellects that came to an evil end, Sansovino was forced to his great loss to depart from Rome and to fly to Venice, intending from there to pass into France to entire the service of the King, whither he had bee already invited, But, halting in that city in order to make himself ready and provide himself with many things, for he was despoiled of everything, it was announced to the Prince Andrea Gritti, who was much the friend of every talent, that Jacopo Sansovino was there. Whereupon there came to Gritti a desire to speak with him, because at that very time Cardinal Domenico Grimani had give him to understand that Sansovino would have been the man for the cupolas of S. Marco, their principal church, which, because of age and of weak foundations, and also from their being badly secured with chains, were all opening out and threatening to fall; and so he had him summoned. After may courtesies and long discussions he said to Sansovino that he wished, or rather, prayed him, that he should find a remedy for the ruin of those tribunes; which Sansovino promised to do, and to put it right. And so, having agreed to do the works, he caused it to be taken in hand; and , having contrived all the scaffoldings in the interior and made supports of beams after the manner of stars, he propped in the central hollow of woodwork all the timbers that sustained the vault of each tribune, and end encircled them on the inner side with curtains of woodwork, going on then to bind them on the outer side with chains or iron, to flank them with new walls, and to make at the foot new foundations for the piers that supported them, insomuch that he strengthened them vastly and made them for ever secure. By doing which he caused all Venice to marvel, and not only satisfied Gritti, but also--which was far more--rendered his ability so clearly manifest of that most illustrious Senate, that when the work was finished, the protomaster to the Lords Procurators of S. Mark being dead, which is the highest office that those lords give to their architects and engineers, they gave it to him with the usual house and a passing handsome salary. Whereupon Sansovino, having accepted it most willingly and freed his mind of all doubt, became the head of all their fabrics, with honour and advantage for himself.
First, then he erected the public building of the Mint, which he designed and distributed in the interior with so much order and method, for the convenience and service of the many artificers, that in no place is there a Treasury ordered so well or with greater strength than that one, which he adorned altogether in the Rustic Order, very beautifully; which method, not having been used before in Venice, caused no little marvel in the men of that city.
Wherefore, having recognized that the genius of Sansovino was equal to their every need in the service of the city, they caused him to attend for many years to the fortifications of their State. Nor did any long time pass before he took in hand, by order of the Council of Ten, the very rich and beautiful fabric of the Library of San Marco, opposite to the Palazzo della Signoria, with such a wealth of carvings, cornices, columns, capitals, and half-length figures over the whole work, that it is a marvel; and it is all done without any sparing of expense, so that up to the present day it has cost one hundred and fifty thousand ducats. And it is held in great estimation in that city, because it is full of the richest pavements, stucco-work, and stories, distributed among the halls of the building, with public stairs adorned by various pictures, as has been related in the Life of Battista Franco; besides many other beautiful appurtenances, and the rich ornaments that it has at the principal door of entrance, which give it majesty and grandeur, making manifest the ability of Sansovino. This method of building was the reason that in that city, into which up to that time there had never entered any method save that of making their houses and palaces with the same order, each one always continuing the same things with the same measure and ancient use, without varying according to the sites as they found them or according to convenience--this, I say, was the reason that buildings both public and private began to be erected with new designs and better order.
The first palace that he built was that of M. Giorgio Cornaro, a most beautiful work, erected with all proper appurtenances and ornaments at a cost of seventy thousand crowns. Moved by which a gentleman of the Delfino family caused Sansovino to build a smaller one, at a cost of thirty thousand crowns, which was much extolled and very beautiful. Then he built that of Moro, at a cost of twenty thousand crowns, which likewise was much extolled; and afterwards many others of less cost in the city and the neighborhood. Wherefore it may be said that at the present day that magnificent city, in the quantity and quality of her sumptuous and well-conceived edifices, shines resplendent and is in that respect what she is through the ability, industry, and art of Jacopo Sansovino, who therefore deserves the highest praise; seeing that with those works he has been the reason that the gentlemen of Venice have introduced modern architecture into their city, in that not only has that been done there which has passed through his hands, but also many--nay, innumerable--other works which have been executed by other masters, who have gone to live there and have achieved magnificent things.
Jacopo also built the fabric of the loggia in the Piazza di San Marco, in the Corinthian Order, which is at the foot of the Campanile of the said San Marco, with a very rich ornamentation of columns, and four niches, in which are four figures the size of life and in bronze, of supreme beauty. And that work formed, as it were, a base of great beauty to the said campanile, which at the foot has a breadth, on one of the three sides, of thirty-five feet, which is about the extent of SansovinoUs ornamentation; and a height from the ground to the cornice, where are the windows of the bells, of one hundred and sixty feet. From the level of that cornice to the other above it, where there is the corridor, is twenty-five feet, and the other dado above is twenty-eight feet and a half high; and from that level of the corridor to the pyramid, spire, or pinnacle, whatever it may be called, is sixty feet. At the summit of that pinnacle the little square, upon which stands the Angel, is six feet high, and the said Angel, which revolves, is ten feet high; insomuch that the whole height comes to be two hundred and ninety-two feet.
But the finest, richest and strongest of Jacopo's buildings is the mint of Venice, constructed entirely of iron and stone, without a scrap of wood, as a precaution against fire. The interior is conveniently arranged, no mint in the world being so well adapted for the work, or so strong. It is entirely in rustic work, not seen before in that city, where it excited considerable wonder. His also is the charming church of Santo Spirito in the lagoons. In Venice the facade of San Gimignano gives splendour to the piazza, as the facade of San Giuliano does to the Merceria, and the rich tomb of Prince Francesco Veniero to San Salvador. he also did the new vaulting for the Rialto on the Grand Canal, making a convenient place where a market is held almost every day for the natives and others who resort to the city.
Very wonderful and novel was his work for the Tiepoli at the Misericordia, in making new foundations of large stones under their sumptuous palace on the Grand Canal, which owing to bad foundations would have fallen in a few years, while the owners now live there in absolute safety. In spite of these numerous buildings, he never ceased to make beautiful works in marble and bronze for his own delight. Above the holy water-vessel of the friars of Ca'Grande [i Frari] is an admirable St. John the Baptist by him.
At Padua, in the Chapel of the Santo, there is a large scene in marble by the same hand, with very beautiful figures in half-relief, of a miracle of St. Anthony of Padua; which scene is much esteemed in that place. For the entrance of the stairs of the Palace of San Marco he is even now executing in marble, in the form of two most beautiful giants, each of seven braccia, a Neptune and a Mars, signifying the power that is exercised both on land and on sea by that most illustrious Republic. For the Duke of Ferrara he made a very beautiful statue of a Hercules; and for the Church of San Marco he executed four scenes of bronze in half-relief, one braccio in height and one and a half in length, for placing around a pulpit, and containing stories of that Evangelist, which are held in great estimation for their variety.
Over the door of the same San Marco he has made a Madonna of marble, the size of life, which is held to be very beautiful, and at the entrance of the sacristy in that place there is by his hand the door of bronze, divided into two most beautiful parts, with stories of Jesus Christ all in half-relief and wrought excellently well. Over the gate of the Arsenal he has made a very lovely Madonna of marble, who is holding her Son in her arms. All of these works not only have given lustre and adornment to that Republic, but also have caused Sansovino to become daily more known as a most excellent craftsman, and to be loved by those Signori and honoured by their magnificent liberality, and likewise by the other craftsmen; for every work of sculpture and architecture that has been executed in that city in his time has been referred to him. And in truth the excellence of Jacopo has well deserved to be held in the first rank in that city among the craftsmen of design, and his genius is rightly loved and revered by all men, both nobles and plebeians, for the reason that, besides other things, he has brought it about, as has been said, with his knowledge and judgment, that that city has been almost entirely made new and learned the true and good manner of building.
But, if she has received from him beauty and adornment, he, on the other hand, has received many benefits from her. Thus, in addition to other things, he has lived in her, from the time when he first went there to the age of seventy-eight years, full of health and strength; and the air and that sky have done so much for him, that he does not seem, one might say, more than forty. He has had, and still has, from a most talented son--a man of letters--two grandchildren, one male and the other female, both of them pictures of health and beauty, to his supreme contentment; and, what is more, he is still alive, full of happiness and with all the greatest conveniences and comforts that any man of his profession could have. He has always loved his brother-craftsmen, and in particular he has been very much the friend of the excellent and famous Tiziano, as he also was of M. Pietro Aretino during his lifetime. For all these reasons I have judged it well to make this honorable record of him, although he is still living, and particularly because now he is by way of doing little in sculpture.
[The above paragraph is the last in the Giunti edition of the Life of Sansovino; in the revised edition published separately, this is left out and the following added: ]
Three beautiful stucco figures of his are still in the hands of his son, a Laocoon, a Venus and a Madonna surrounded by angels, all unequalled in Venice. This son also has designs by Jacopo for sixty churches, unsurpassed from the time of the ancients onwards. I have heard that the son will publish them for the benefit of the world, and that he has already had some engraved, accompanying them with designs of his father's labors in various parts of Italy.
Sansovino was always ready to serve the procurators, in spite of his numerous public and private labors, for foreigners also flocked to him for models and designs for buildings, for figures or advice, including the Duke of Ferrara, who had a colossal Hercules, and the Dukes of Mantua and Urbino. The procurators on their part did nothing without his help or advice, and were always employing him for their friends and relations as well as themselves, and he was always ready to take any pains to satisfy them, without any reward. He was most prized and loved by Prince Gritti, by Messer Vettorio Grimani, the cardinalUs brother, by Messer Giovanni da Legge, the knight, all procurators, and by Messer Marcantonio Giustigniano, who knew him in Rome. These illustrious men of the world fully recognised his worth and valued him accordingly, as did all the city, knowing that the office had never seen his like,a and being well aware of his reputation in Florence, Rome and all Italy among princes and able men, and they felt that his descendants as well as himself should derive lasting benefits from his singular merits.
Jacopo was of medium stature, not stout, and upright in bearing. He was fair, with a red beard, and in his youth very handsome and graceful, so that many ladies of rank fell in love with him. In age he appeared venerable with a white beard, and walked like a young man, so that at ninety-three he was strong and healthy and could see the smallest things without glasses. When writing he kept his head up, and did not lean as others do. He was fond of dressing well and was always polished in person. He enjoyed the society of women to his extreme old age and was fond of conversing with them.
In his youth his disorders injured his health, but he felt no ill-effects in age, so that for fifty years he would never send for a physician although he sometimes felt unwell. Nay, when he had an apoplectic stroke for the fourth time at eighty-four, he recovered by remaining two months in bed in a dark, warm place, refusing medicine. His stomach was so good that he could eat anything, and in summer he lived almost exclusively on fruit, often eating as many as three cucumbers at a time with half a lemon in his extreme old age. He was of a most prudent disposition, looking into the future, and judging things by the past; he was attentive to his affairs, spared no pains and never left his work for pleasure. He talked well and fluently upon anything he understood, choosing his illustrations with great felicity, and this rendered him agreeable to great and small as well as to his friends. His memory remained green in his last years, and he clearly recalled his childhood, the sack of Rome, and many events which had happened in his time. He had a high spirit, and from youth delighted to compete with his betters, for he said this was the way to succeed, and with inferiors one grew worse. He valued honor above everything, kept his word faithfully, and his patrons frequently had proof of his inflexible integrity, so that they considered him not as their servant but as a father and brother, honoring his unfeigned goodness. He was liberal to all, and often deprived himself to oblige his relations, and he lived in honor and repute, esteemed by all. If at times he allowed himself to be overcome by passion, for he was very hot-tempered, it was soon over, and often a few humble words would bring tears to his eyes.
He bore a passionate love for sculpture, and to keep the art vigorous he instructed many pupils, forming a seminary of that art in Italy. Among those who became famous were Niccolo Tribolo and Solosmeo, Florentines, Danese Cattaneo of Carrara, of great excellence in poetry as well as sculpture, Girolamo da Ferrara, Jacopo Colonna of Venice, Luca Lancia of Naples, Tiziano da Padova, Pietro da Salo, Bartolommeo Ammanati of Florence, the present sculptor and proto-master of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and lastly Alessandro Vittoria of Trento, most rare in marble portraits, and Jacopo de'Medici, a Brescian. These keeping alive the memory of their master of their ability have produced many notable things in various cities. Jacopo was much honored by princes, Alessandro deUMedici asking his opinion on the making of the citadel of Florence. Duke Cosimo also, when Sansovino went to Florence on his affairs in 1540, came to ask his opinion on the same fortress and endeavoured to induce Jacopo to enter his service, offering him a large provision. When he returned from Florence, Duke Ercole of Ferrara detained him and made every effort to keep him. But he had become accustomed to Venice, where he had passed a great part of his life, and being much attached to the procurators, who greatly honored him, he would not be persuaded by anyone. Paul III also sent for him to take charge of San Pietro in place of Antonio da San Gallo, employing for this Monsignor della Casa, then legate in Venice. But all was in vain, for he declared he would not leave a republic to live under an absolute prince. King Philip of Spain, passing through Germany, showed him great favor at Peschiera, whither Jacopo had gone to see him.
Sansovino was excessively desirous of glory, and spent much to that end in order to leave a memorial of himself, to the loss of his descendants. Connoisseurs say that, although he yielded to Michelangelo, he was superior in some things, having no peer in making draperies, children and the expression of women. His marble draperies were slender, well executed in beautiful folds, showing the lines of the body, while he made his children soft, tender, without such muscles as adults have, their fleshy arms and legs being exactly like life. His women are sweet and charming and of the utmost grace, as is clearly seen by various Virgins of his in marble and bas-relief, his Venuses, and other figures in various places.
This man, so celebrated in sculpture and distinguished in architecture, having lived in favor with God and man, endowed with splendid talents, lived to the age of ninety-three, when feeling somewhat tired he went to bed to rest, and without any sort of illness, though he tried to rise and dress himself, he remained there for a month and a half, gradually failing, received the sacraments of the Church, and although he hoped to live a year or so, he died on 2 November, 1570, when, in spite of his great age, his loss grieved all Venice. He left a son Francesco, born at Rome in 1521, learned in laws and humanities. Jacopo saw three grandchildren, a boy called after him and two girls, one called Fiorenza, who died, to his great grief, and the other Aurora. His body was carried to his chapel in San Gimignano, where his son put up a marble statue made during his life, with the following epitaph:
Jacopo Sansovino Florentino, P. qui Romae Julio II. Leoni X., Clementi VII., Pont. Max. maxime gratus, Venetiis architecturae sculpturaeque intermortuum decus, primus, excitavi, quique a senatu ob eximiam virtutem liberaliter honestatus, summo civitatis moerore decessit, Franciscus f. hoc mon. p. vist ann. XCIII. ob. v. cal. Dec. MDLXX.
The Florentine nation celebrated his funeral in public in the Frari, with some ceremony, the oration being pronounced by the excellent Camillo Buonpigli.