Portrait of Paolo Romano by Giorgio Vasari for his 1568 edition of the Lives.



Vasari's Lives of the Artists

WE HAVE NOW TO SPEAK of Paolo Romano and Mino del Regno, who were contemporaries and of the same profession, but very different in character and in knowledge of art, for Paolo was modest and quite able, and Mino much less able, but so presumptuous and arrogant, that he was not only overbearing in his actions, but also with his speech exalted his own works beyond all due measure. When Pope Pius II gave a commission for a figure to the Roman sculptor Paolo, Mino tormented and persecuted him out of envy so greatly, that Paolo, who was a good and most modest man, was forced to show resentment. Whereupon Mino, falling into a rage with Paolo, offered to bet a thousand ducats that he would make a figure better than Paolo's; and this he said with the greatest presumption and effrontery, knowing the nature of Paolo, who disliked any annoyance, and believing that he would not accept such a challenge. But Paolo accepted the invitation, and Mino, half repentant, bet a hundred ducats merely to save his honor. The figures finished, the victory was given to Paolo as a rare and excellent master, which he was; and Mino was scorned as the sort of craftsman whose words were worth more than his works.

By the hand of Mino are certain works in marble at Naples, and a tomb at Monte Cassino, a seat of the Black Friars in the kingdom of Naples; the S. Peter and the S. Paul that are at the foot of the steps of S. Pietro in Rome, and the tomb of Pope Paul II in S. Pietro. The figure that Paolo made in competition with Mino was the S. Paul that is to be seen on a marble base at the head of the Ponte S. Angelo, which stood unnoticed for a long time in front of the Chapel of Sixtus IV. It afterwards came to pass that one day Pope Clement VII observed this figure, which pleased him greatly, for he was a man of knowledge and judgment in such matters; wherefore he determined to have a S. Peter made of the same size, and also, after removing two little chapels of marble, dedicated to those Apostles, which stood at the head of the Ponte S. Angelo and obstructed the view of the Castle, to put these two statues in their place.

It may be read in the work of Antonio Filarete that Paolo was not only a sculptor but also an able goldsmith, and that he wrought part of the twelve Apostles in silver which stood, before the sack of Rome, over the altar of the Papal Chapel. Part of the work of these statues was done by Niccolo della Guardia and Pietro Paolo da Todi, disciples of Paolo, who were afterwards passing good masters in sculpture, as is seen from the tombs of Pope Pius II and Pope Pius III, on which the said Pontiffs are portrayed from nature. By the hand of the same men are medals of three Emperors and other great persons. The said Paolo made a statue of an armed man on horseback, which is now on the ground in S. Pietro, near the Chapel of S. Andrea. A pupil of Paolo was the Roman Gian Cristoforo, who was an able sculptor; and there are certain works by his hand in S. Maria Trastevere and in other places.

Chimenti Camicia, of whose origin nothing is known save that he was a Florentine, was employed in the service of the King of Hungary, for whom he made palaces, gardens, fountains, churches, fortresses, and many other buildings of importance, with ornaments, carvings, decorated ceilings, and other things of the kind, which were executed with much diligence by Baccio Cellini. After these works, drawn by love for his country, Chimenti returned to Florence, whence he sent to Baccio (who remained there), as presents for the King, certain pictures by the hand of Berto Linaiuolo, which were held very beautiful in Hungary and much extolled by that King. This Berto (of whom I will not refrain from making this record as well), after having painted many pictures in a beautiful manner, which are in the houses of many citizens, died at the very height of his powers, cutting short the great expectations that had been formed of him. But to return to Chimenti; he had not been long in Florence when he returned to Hungary, where he continued to serve the King; but while he was journeying on the Danube in order to give designs for mills, in consequence of fatigue he was seized by a sickness, which carried him off in a few days to the other life. The works of these masters date about the year 1470.

About the same time, during the pontificate of Pope Sixtus IV, there lived in Rome one Baccio Pintelli, a Florentine, who was rewarded for the great skill that he had in architecture by being employed by that Pope in all his building enterprises. With his design, then, were built the Church and Convent of S. Maria del Popolo, and certain highly ornate chapels therein, particularly that of Domenico della Rovere, Cardinal of San Clemente and nephew of that Pope. The same Pontiff erected a palace in Borgo Vecchio after the design of Baccio, which was then held to be a very beautiful and well-planned edifice. The same master built the Great Library under the apartments of Niccola, and that chapel in the Palace that is called the Sistine, which is adorned with beautiful paintings. He also rebuilt the structure of the new Hospital of S. Spirito in Sassia (which was burnt down almost to the foundations in the year 1471), adding to it a very long loggia and all the useful conveniences that could be desired. Within the hospital, along its whole length, he caused scenes to be painted from the life of Pope Sixtus, from his birth up to the completion of that building nay, up to the end of his life. He also made the bridge that is called the Ponte Sisto, from the name of that Pontiff; this was held to be an excellent work, because Baccio built it with such stout piers and with the weight so well distributed, that it is very strong and very well founded. In the year of the Jubilee of 1475, likewise, he built many new little churches throughout Rome, which are recognized by the arms of Pope Sixtus in particular, S. Apostolo, S. Pietro in Vincula, and S. Sisto. For Cardinal Guglielmo, Bishop of Ostia, he made the model of his church, with that of the facade and of the steps, in the manner wherein they are seen today. Many declare that the design of the Church of S. Pietro a Montorio in Rome was by the hand of Baccio, but I cannot say with truth that I have found this to be so. This church was built at the expense of the King of Portugal, almost at the same time that the Spanish nation had the Church of S. Jacopo erected in Rome.

The talent of Baccio was so highly esteemed by that Pontiff, that he would never have done anything in the way of building without his counsel; wherefore, in the year 1480, hearing that the Church and Convent of S. Francesco at Assisi were threatening to fall, he sent Baccio thither; and he, making a very stout counterfort on the side of the plain, rendered that marvellous fabric perfectly secure. On one buttress he placed a statue of that Pontiff, who, not many years before, had caused to be made in that same convent many apartments, in the form of chambers and halls, which are known not only by their magnificence but also by the arms of the said Pope that are seen in them. In the courtyard there is one coat of arms much larger than the others, with some Latin verses in praise of Pope Sixtus IV, who gave many proofs that he held that holy place in great veneration.

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