LINK TO BIB

MICHELE SANMICHELI
Part 2

Vasari's Lives of the Artists






Now, in order not to have to turn back in a short time to speak of the Veronese, taking the opportunity presented by the masters men tioned above, I shall make mention in this place of some painters from that country, who are still alive and worthy to be named, and by no means to be passed over in silence. The first of these is Domenico del Riccio, who has painted in fresco, mostly in chiaroscuro and partly in color, three facades of the house of Fiorige della Seta at Verona, on the Ponte Nuovo,that is, the three that do not look out upon the bridge, the house standing by itself. In one, over the river, are battles of sea- monsters, in another the battles of the Centaurs and many rivers, and in the third two pictures in color. In the first of these, which is over the door, is the Table of the Gods, and in the other, over the river, is the fable able of the nuptials between the Benacus, called the Lake of Garda, and the Nymph Caris, in the person of Garda, from whom is born the River Mincio, which in fact issues from that lake. In the same house is a large frieze wherein are some Triumphs in color, executed in a beautiful and masterly manner. In the house of Messer Pellegorino Ridolfi, also at Verona, the same master painted the Coronation of the Emperor Charles V, and the scene when, after being crowned in Bologna, he rides with the Pope through the city in great pomp.

In oils he has painted the principal altarpiece of the church that the Duke of Mantua has built recently near the Castello, in which is the Beheading and Martyrdom of Santa Barbara, painted with much diligence and judgment. And what moved the Duke to have that altarpiece executed by Domenico was his having seen and much liked his manner in an altarpiece that Domenico had painted long before for the Chapel of Santa Margherita in the Duomo of Mantua, in competition with Paolino, who painted that of San Antonio, with Paolo Farmnato, who executed that of San Martino, and with Battista del Moro, who painted that of the Magdalene; all which four Veronese had been summoned thither by Cardinal Ercole of Mantua, in order to adorn that church, which had been reconstructed by him after the design of Giulio Romano. Other works has Domenico executed in Verona, Vicenza, and Venice, but it must suffice to have spoken of those named. He is an honest and excellent craftsman, and, in addition to his painting, he is a very fine musician , and one of the first in the most noble Philharmonic Academy of Verona.

Not inferior to him will be his son Felice, who, although still young, has proved himself a painter out of the ordinary in an altarpiece that he has executed for the Church of the Trinita, in which are the Madonna and six other Saints, all of the size of life. Nor is this any marvel, for the young man learned his art in Florence, living in the house of Bernardo Canigiani, a Florentine gentleman and a crony of his father Domenico. In the same Verona, also, lives Bernardino, called L' India {Bernardino India], who, besides many other works, has painted the Fable of Psyche in most beautiful figures on the ceiling of a chamber in the house of Count Marc' Antonio del Tiene. And he has painted another chamber, with beautiful inventions and a lovely manner of painting, for Count Girolamo of Canossa. A much extolled painter, also, is Eliodoro Forbicini, a young man of most beautiful genius and of considerable skill in every manner of painting, but particularly in making grotesques, as may be seen in the two chambers mentioned above and in other places where he has worked.

In like manner Battista da Verona, who is called thus, and not otherwise, out of his own country, after having learned the first rudiments of painting from an uncle at Verona, placed himself with the excellent Tiziano in Venice, under whom he has become a very good painter. When a young man, this Battista painted in company with Paolino a hall in the Palace of the Paymaster and Assessor Portesco at Tiene in the territory of Vicenza; where they executed a vast number of figures, which acquired credit and repute for both the one and the other. With the same Paolino he executed many works in fresco in the Palace of the Soranza at Castelfranco, both having been sent to work there by Michele Sanmicheli, who loved them as his sons. And with him, also, he painted the facade of the house of M. Antonio Cappello, which is on the Grand Canal in Venice; and then, still together, they painted the ceiling, or rather, soffit in the Hall of the Council of Ten, dividing the pictures between them. Not long afterwards, having been summoned to Vicenza, Battista executed many works there, both within and around the city; and recently he has painted the facade of the Monte della Pieta, wherein he has executed an infinite number of nude figures in various attitudes , larger than life, with very good design, and all in so few months, that it has been a marvel. And if he has done so much at so early an age (for he is not vet past thirty) , everyone may imagine what may be expected of him in the course of his life.

A Veronese, likewise, is one Paolino [PaoloVeronese], a painter who is in very good repute in Venice at the present day, in that, although he is not yet more than thirty years of age, he has executed many works worthy of praise. This master, who was born at Verona to a stone-cutter, or, as they say in those parts, a stone-hewer, after having learned the rudiments of painting from Giovanni Caroto of Verona, painted in fresco, in company with the above-named Battista, the hall of the Paymaster and Assessor Portesco at Tiene, in the Vicentino; and afterwards at the Soranza, with the same companion, many works executed with good design and judgment and a beautiful manner. At Masiera, near Asolo in the Trevisano , he has painted the very beautiful house of Signor Daniello Barbaro, Patriarch-elect of Aquileia. At Verona, for the Refectory of San Nazzaro, a monastery of Black Friars, he has painted in a large picture on canvas the supper that Simon the Leper gave to Our Lord, when the woman of sin threw herself at His feet, with many figures, portraits from life, and very rare perspective-views; and under the table are two dogs so beautiful that they appear real and alive, and further away certain cripples executed excellently well.

By the hand of Paolino, in the Hall of the Council of Ten at Venice, in an oval that is larger than certain others that are there, placed, as the principal one, in the center of the ceiling, is a Jove who is driving away the Vices, in order to signify that that supreme and absolute tribunal drives away vice and chastises wicked and vicious men. The same master painted the soffit, or rather, ceiling of the Church of San Sebastiano, which is a very rare work, and the altarpiece of the principal chapel, together with some pictures that serve to adorn it, and likewise the doors of the organ; which are all pictures truly worthy of the highest praise. In the Hall of the Grand Council he painted a large picture of Frederick Barbarossa presenting himself to the Pope, with a good number of figures varied in their costumes and vestments, all most beautiful and representing worthily the Court of a Pope and an Emperor, and also a Venetian Senate, with many noblemen and Senators of that Republic, portrayed from life. In short, this work is such in its grandeur and design, and in the beauty and variety of the attitudes, that it is rightly extolled by everyone. After this scene, Paolino painted the ceilings of certain chambers, which are used by that Council of Ten, with figures in oils, which are much foreshortened and very rare.

In like manner, he painted in fresco the facade of the house of a merchant, which was a very beautiful work, on the road from San Maurizio to San Moise; but the wind from the sea is little by little destroying it. For Camillo Trevisani, at Murano, he painted a loggia and an apartment in fresco, which were much extolled. And in San Giorgio Maggiore at Venice, at the head of a large apartment, he painted in oils the Marriage of Cana in Galilee, which was a marvelous work for its grandeur, the number of figures, the variety of costumes, and the invention; and, if I remember right, there are to be seen in it more than one hundred and fifty heads, all varied and executed with great diligence. The same Paolino was commissioned by the Procurators of St. Mark to paint certain angular medallions that are in the ceiling of the Nicene Library, which was left to the Signoria by Cardinal Bessarion with a vast treasure of Greek books. Now the above-named lords, when they had the painting of that library begun, promised a prize of honor, in addition to the ordinary payment, to him who should acquit himself best in painting it; and the pictures were divided among the best painters that there were at that time in Venice. When the work was finished and the pictures painted had been very well considered, a chain of gold was placed round the neck of Paolino, he being the man who was judged to have done better than all the others.

The picture that gave him the victory and the prize of honor was that wherein he painted Music , in which are depicted three very beautiful young women, one of whom, the most beautiful, is playing a great bass-viol, looking down at the fingerboard of the instrument, the attitude of her person showing that her ear and her voice are fixed intently on the sound; and of the other two, one is playing a lute, and the other singing from a book. Near these women is a Cupid without wings, who is playing a harpsichord, signifying that Love is born from Music, or rather, that Love is always in company with Music; and, because he never parts from her, Paolino made him without wings. In the same picture he painted Pan, the God, according to the poets, of shepherds, with certain pipes made of the bark of trees, as it were consecrated to him as votive offerings by shepherds who have been victorious in playing them. Two other pictures Paolino painted in the same place; in one is Arithmetic, with certain Philosophers dressed in the ancient manner, and in the other is honor, seated on a throne, to whom sacrifices are being offered and royal crowns presented. But seeing that this young man is at this very moment at the height of his activity and not yet in his thirty-second year, I shall say nothing more of him for the present.

Likewise a Veronese is Paolo Farinato, an able painter, who, after having been a disciple of Niccolo Ursino, has executed many works at Verona. The most important are a hall in the house of the Fumanelli, which he filled with various scenes in fresco colors at the desire of Messer Antonio, a gentleman of that family, most famous as physician over all Europe, and two very large pictures in the principal chapel of Santa Maria in Organo. In one of these is the story of the Innocents, and in the other is the scene when the Emperor Constantine causes a number of children to be brought before him, intending to kill them and to bathe in their blood, in order to cure himself of his leprosy. Then in the recess of that chapel are two pictures, large, but smaller than the others, in one of which is Christ receiving St. Peter, who is walking towards Him on the water, and in the other the dinner that St. Gregory gives to certain poor men. In all these works, which are much to be extolled, is a vast number of figures, executed with good design, study, and diligence. By the hand of the same master is an altar-picture of San Martino that was placed in the Duomo of Mantua, which he executed in competition with others his compatriots, as has just been related. And let this be the end of the Lives of the excellent Michele Sanmicheli and of those other able men of Verona, so truly worthy of all praise on account of their excellence in the arts and their great talents.



Return to the Life of Michele Sanmicheli

Return to Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Return to 16th Century Venetian Architecture


This Web Site Created and Maintained by Adrienne DeAngelis acd@efn.org