Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists
IT IS IN EVERY WAY a notable thing that all those who were of the school in the garden of the Medici, and were favored by the Magnificent Lorenzo the Elder, became without exception supremely excellent; which circumstance cannot have come from any other cause but the great, nay, infinite judgment of that most noble lord, the true Maecenas of men of talent, who, even as he was able to recognize men of lofty spirit and genius, was also both willing and able to recompense and reward them. Thus Giovan Francesco Rustici, a Florentine citizen, acquitting himself very well in drawing and working in clay in his boyhood, was placed by that Magnificent Lorenzo, who recognized him as a boy of spirit and of good and beautiful genius, to learn under Andrea del Verrocchio, with whom there was also working Leonardo da Vinci, a rare youth and gifted with infinite parts. Whereupon Rustici, being pleased by the beautiful manner and ways of Leonardo, and considering that the expressions of his heads and the movements of his figures were more graceful and more spirited than those of any other works that he had ever seen, attached himself to him, after he had learned to cast in bronze, to draw in perspective, and to work in marble, and after Andrea had gone to work in Venice.
Rustici thus living with Leonardo and serving him with the most loving submission, Leonardo conceived such an affection for him, recognizing him to be a young man of good, true, and liberal mind, patient and diligent in the labors of art, that he did nothing, either great or small, save what was pleasing to Giovan Francesco, who, besides being of a noble family, had the means to live honorably, and therefore practised art more for his own delight and from desire of glory than for gain. And, to tell the truth of the matter, those craftsmen who have as their ultimate and principal end gain and profit, and not honor and glory, rarely become very excellent, even although they may have good and beautiful genius; besides which, laboring for a livelihood, as very many do who are weighed down by poverty and their families, and working not by inclination, when the mind and the will are drawn to it, but by necessity from morning till night, is a life not for men who have honor and glory as their aim, but for hacks, as they are called, and manual laborers, for the reason that good works do not get done without first having been well considered for a long time. And it was on that account that Rustici used to say in his more mature years that you must first think, then make your sketches, and after that your designs; which done, you must put them aside for weeks and even months without looking at them, and then, choosing the best, put them into execution; but that method cannot be followed by everyone, nor do those use it who labor only for gain. And he used to say, also, that works should not be shown readily to anyone before they are finished, so that a man may change them as many times and in as many ways as he wishes, without any scruple.
Giovan Francesco learned many things from Leonardo, but particularly how to represent horses, in which he so delighted that he fashioned them of clay and of wax, in the round or in low-relief, and in as many manners as could be imagined; and of these there are some to be seen in our book which are so well drawn, that they bear witness to the knowledge and art of Giovan Francesco. He knew also how to handle colors, and executed some passing good pictures, although his principal profession was sculpture. And since he lived for a time in the Via de' Martelli, he became much the friend of all the men of that family, which has always had men of the highest ability and worth, and particularly of Piero, for whom, being the nearest to his heart, he made some little figures in full-relief, and, among others, a Madonna with the Child in her arms seated upon some clouds that are covered with Cherubim. Similar to that is another that he painted after some time in a large picture in oils, with a garland of Cherubim that form a diadem around the head of Our Lady.
The Medici family having then returned to Florence, Rustici made himself known to Cardinal Giovanni as the protege of his father Lorenzo, and was received with much lovingness. But, since the ways of the Court did not please him and were distasteful to his nature, which was altogether simple and peaceful, and not full of envy and ambition, he would always keep to himself and live the life as it were of a philosopher, enjoying tranquil peace and repose. And although he did at times choose to take some recreation, and found himself among his friends in art or some citizens who were his intimate companions, he did not therefore cease to work when the desire came to him or the occasion presented itself. Wherefore, for the visit of Pope Leo to Florence in the year 1515, at the request of Andrea del Sarto, who was much his friend, he executed some statues that were held to be very beautiful; which statues, since they pleased Cardinal Giulio de' Medici, were the reason that the Cardinal caused him to make, for the summit of the fountain that is in the great court of the Palace of the Medici, the nude Mercury of bronze about one braccio in height, standing on a ball in the act of taking flight. In the hands of that figure Rustici placed an instrument that is made to revolve by the water that it pours down from above, in the following manner: one leg being perforated, a pipe passes through it and through the torso, and the water, having risen to the mouth of the figure, falls upon that instrument, which is balanced with four thin plates fixed after the manner of a butterfly, and causes it to revolve. That figure, I say, for a small work, was much extolled.
Not long afterwards, Giovan Francesco made the same Cardinal the model for a David to be cast in bronze (similar to that executed by Donato, as has been related, for the elder Cosimo, the Magnificent), for placing in the first court, whence the other had been taken away. That model gave much satisfaction, but, by reason of a certain dilatoriness in Giovan Francesco, it was never cast in bronze; wherefore the Orpheus in marble of Bandinelli was placed there, and the David of clay made by Rustici, which was a very rare work, came to an evil end, which was a very great loss. Giovan Francesco made an Annunciation in half-relief in a large medallion, with a most beautiful perspective- view, in which he was assisted by the painter Raifaello Bello and by Niccolo Soggi. This, when cast in bronze, proved to be a work of such rare beauty, that there was nothing more beautiful to be seen; and it was sent to the King of Spain. And then he executed in marble, in another similar medallion, a Madonna with the Child in her arms and S. John the Baptist as a little boy, which was placed in the first hall in the residence of the Consuls of the Guild of For Santa Maria.
By these works Giovan Francesco came into great credit, and the Consuls of the Guild of Merchants, who had caused to be removed certain clumsy figures of marble that were over the three doors of the Temple of S. Giovanni (made, as has been related, in the year 1240), after allotting to Contucci of Sansovino those that were to be set up in place of the old ones over the door that faces towards the Misericordia, allotted to Rustici those that were to be placed over the door that faces towards the canonical buildings of that temple, on the condition that he should make three figures of bronze of four braccia each, representing the same persons as the old ones namely, S. John in the act of preaching, standing between a Pharisee and a Levite. That work was much after the heart of Giovan Francesco, because it was to be set up in a place so celebrated and of such importance, and, besides this, by reason of the competition with Andrea Contucci. Having therefore straightway set his hand to it and made a little model, which he surpassed in the excellence of the work itself, he showed all the consideration and diligence that such a labor required. When finished, the work was held to be in all its parts the best composed and best conceived of its kind that had been made up to that time, the figures being wholly perfect and wrought with great grace of aspect and also extraordinary force. In like manner, the nude arms and legs are very well conceived, and attached at the joints so excellently, that it would not be possible to do better; and, to say nothing of the hands and feet, what graceful attitudes and what heroic gravity have those heads!
Giovan Francesco, while he was fashioning that work in clay, would have no one about him but Leonardo da Vinci, who, during the making of the moulds, the securing them with irons, and, in short, until the statues were cast, never left his side; wherefore some believe, but without knowing more than this, that Leonardo worked at them with his own hand, or at least assisted Giovan Francesco with his advice and good judgment. These statues, which are the most perfect and the best conceived that have ever been executed in bronze by a modern master, were cast in three parts and polished in the above-mentioned house in the Via de' Martelli where Giovan Francesco lived; and so, also, the ornaments of marble that are about the S. John, with the two columns, the mouldings, and the emblem of the Guild of Merchants. In addition to the S. John, which is a spirited and lively figure, there is a bald man inclined to fatness, beautifully wrought, who, having rested the right arm on one flank, with part of a shoulder naked, and with the left hand holding a scroll before his eyes, has the left leg crossed over the right, and stands in an attitude of deep contemplation, about to answer S. John; and he is clothed in two kinds of drapery, one delicate, which floats over the nude parts of the figure, and over that a mantle of thicker texture, executed with a flow of folds full of mastery and artistry. Equal to him is the Pharisee, who, having laid his right hand on his beard, with a grave gesture, is drawing back a little, revealing astonishment at the words of John.
While Rustici was executing that work, growing weary at last of having to ask for money every day from those Consuls or their agents, who were not always the same (and such persons are generally men who hold art or any work of value in little account), he sold, in order to be able to finish the work, a farm out of his patrimony that he possessed at San Marco Vecchio, at a short distance from Florence. And yet, notwithstanding such labors, expenses, and pains, he was poorly remunerated for it by the Consuls and by his fellow-citizens, for the reason that one of the Ridolfi, the head of that Guild, out of some private spite, and perchance also because Rustici had not paid him enough honor or allowed him to see the figures at his convenience, was always opposed to him in everything. And so that which should have resulted in honor for Giovan Francesco did the very opposite, for, whereas he deserved to be esteemed not only as a nobleman and a citizen but also as a master of art, his being a most excellent craftsman robbed him, with the ignorant and foolish, of all that was due to his noble blood. Thus, when Giovan Francesco's work was to be valued, and he had chosen on his side Michelagnolo Buonarroti, the body of Consuls, at the persuasion of Ridolfi, chose Baccio d'Agnolo; at which Rustici complained, saying to the men of that body, at the audience, that it was indeed something too strange that a worker in wood should have to value the labors of a statuary, and he as good as declared that they were a herd of oxen, but Ridolfi answered that, on the contrary, it was a good choice, and that Giovan Francesco was a swollen bladder of pride and arrogance. And, what was worse, that work, which deserved not less than two thousand crowns, was valued by the Consuls at five hundred, and even those were not paid to him in full, but only four hundred, and that only with the help of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici.
Having met with such malignity, Giovan Francesco withdrew almost in despair, determined that he would never again do work for public bodies, or in any undertaking where he might have to depend on more than one citizen or any other single person. And so, keeping to himself and leading a solitary life in his rooms at the Sapienza, near the Servite Friars, he continued to work at various things, in order to pass the time and not to live in idleness; but also consuming his life and his money in seeking to congeal mercury, in company with a man of like brain called Raffaello Baglioni. Giovan Francesco painted a picture in oils three braccia in breadth and two in height, of the Conversion of S. Paul, full of different kinds of horses ridden by the soldiers of that Saint, with various beautiful attitudes and foreshortenings; which painting, together with many other works by the hand of the same master, is in the possession of the heirs of the above-named Piero Martelli, to whom he gave it. In a little picture he painted a hunting scene full of various animals, which is a very bizarre and pleasing work; and it now belongs to Lorenzo Borghini, who holds it dear, as one who much delights in the treasures of our arts.
For the Nuns of S. Luca, in the Via di S. Gallo, he executed in clay, in half-relief, a Christ in the Garden who is appearing to Mary Magdalene, which was afterwards glazed by Giovanni della Robbia and placed on an altar in the church of those sisters, within an ornament of grey sandstone. For Jacopo Salviati the elder, of whom he was much the friend, he made a most beautiful medallion of marble, containing a Madonna, for the chapel in his palace above the Ponte alia Badia, and, round the courtyard, many medallions filled with figures of terracotta, together with other very beautiful ornaments, which were for the most part, nay, almost all, destroyed by the soldiers in the year of the siege, when the palace was set on fire by the party hostile to the Medici. And since Giovan Francesco had a great affection for that place, he would set out at times from Florence to go there just as he was, in his lucco;* [* A long gown worn by the Florentine citizens, particularly on occasions of ceremony.]and once out of the city he would throw it over his shoulder and slowly wander all by himself, lost in contemplation, until he was there. One day among others, being on that road, and the day being hot, he hid the lucco in a thicket of thorn bushes, and, having reached the palace, had been there two days before he remembered it. In the end, sending his man to look for it, when he saw that he had found it he said: "The world is too good to last long."
Giovan Francesco was a man of surpassing goodness, and very loving to the poor, insomuch that he would never let anyone leave him uncomforted; nay, keeping his money, whether he had much or little, in a basket, he would give some according to his ability to anyone who asked of him. Wherefore a poor man who often went to him for alms, seeing him go always to that basket, said, not thinking that he could be heard: "Ah! God! if I had in my own room all that is in that basket, I would soon settle all my troubles." Giovan Francesco, hearing him, said, after gazing at him fixedly a while: "Come here, I will satisfy you." And then, emptying the basket into a fold of his cloak, he said to him: "Go, and may God bless you." And shortly afterwards he sent to Niccolo Buoni, his dearest friend, who managed all his affairs, for more money; which Niccolo, who kept an account of his crops and of his money in the Monte, and sold his produce at the proper seasons, made a practice, according to Rustici's own wish, of giving him so much money every week, which Giovan Francesco then kept in the drawer of his desk, without a key, and from time to time anyone who wished would take some to spend on the requirements of the household, according as might be necessary.
But to return to his works: Giovan Francesco made a most beautiful Crucifix of wood, as large as life, for sending to France, but it was left with Niccolo Buoni, together with other things in low-relief and drawings, which are now in his possession, at the time when Rustici resolved to leave Florence, believing that it was no place for him and thinking by a change of country to obtain a change of fortune. For Duke Giuliano, by whom he was always much favored, he made a profile of his head in half-relief, and cast it in bronze; and this, which was held to be a remarkable work, is now in the house of M. Alessandro, the son of M. Ottaviano de' Medici. To the painter Ruberto di Filippo Lippi, who was his diciple, Giovan Francesco gave many works by his own hand, such as low-reliefs, models, and designs; and, among other things, several pictures a Leda, a Europa, a Neptune, a very beautiful Vulcan, and another little panel in low-relief wherein is a nude man on horseback of great beauty, which panel is now in the study of Don Silvano Razzi, at the Angeli. The same Giovan Francesco made a very beautiful woman in bronze, two braccia in height, representing one of the Graces, who was pressing one of her breasts; but it is not known what became of it, nor in whose possession it is to be found. Of his horses in clay with men on their backs or under them, similar to those already mentioned, there are many in the houses of citizens, which were presented by him to his various friends, for he was very courteous, and not, like most men of his class, mean and discourteous. And Dionigi da Diacceto, an excellent and honorable gentleman, who also kept the accounts of Giovan Francesco, like Niccolo Buoni, and was his friend, had from him many low-reliefs.
There never was a man more amusing or fanciful than Giovan Francesco, nor one that delighted more in animals. He had made a porcupine so tame, that it stayed under the table like a dog, and at times it rubbed against people's legs in such a manner, that they drew them in very quickly. He had an eagle, and also a raven that said a great number of things so clearly, that it was just like a human being. He also gave his attention to the study of necromancy, and by means of that I am told that he gave strange frights to his servants and assistants; and thus he lived without a care. Having built a room almost in the manner of a fishpond, and keeping in it many serpents, or rather, grass-snakes, which could not escape, he used to take the greatest pleasure in standing, particularly in summer, to observe the mad pranks that they played, and their fury.
There used to assemble in his rooms at the Sapienza a company of good fellows who called themselves the Company of the Paiuolo;* [* Cooking pot or cauldron.] and these, whose numbers were limited to twelve, were our Giovan Francesco, Andrea del Sarto, the painter Spillo, Domenico Puligo, the goldsmith Robetta, Aristotile da San Gallo, Francesco di Pellegrino, Niccolo Buoni, Domenico Baccelli, who played and sang divinely, the sculptor Solosmeo, Lorenzo called Guazzetto, and the painter Ruberto di Filippo Lippi, who was their proveditor. Each of these twelve could bring to certain suppers and entertainments of theirs four friends and no more. The manner of the suppers, which I am very willing to describe because these companies have fallen almost entirely out of fashion, was that each man should bring some dish for supper, prepared with some beautiful invention, which, on arriving at the proper place, he presented to the master of the feast, who was always one of their number, and who then gave it to whomsoever he pleased, each man thus exchanging his dish for that of another. When they were at table, they all offered each other something from their dishes, and every man partook of everything; and whoever had hit on the same invention for his dish as another, and had produced the same thing, was condemned to pay a penalty.
One evening, then, when Giovan Francesco gave a supper to that Company of the Paiuolo, he arranged that there should serve as a table an immense cauldron made with a vat, within which they all sat, and it appeared as if they were in the water of the cauldron, in the center of which came the viands arranged in a circle; and the handle of the cauldron, which curved like a crescent above them, gave out a most beautiful light from the centre, so that, looking round, they all saw each other face to face Now when they were all seated at table in the cauldron, which was most beautifully contrived, there issued from the center a tree with many branches, which set before them the supper, that is, the first course of viands, two to each plate. This done, it descended once more below, where there were persons who played music, and in a short time came up again and presented the second course, and then the third, and so on in due order, while all around were servants who poured out the choicest wines. The invention of the cauldron, which was beautifully adorned with hangings and pictures, was much extolled by the men of that company.
For that evening the contribution of Rustici was a cauldron in the form of a pie, in which was Ulysses dipping his father in order to make him young again; which two figures were boiled capons that had the form of men, so well were the limbs arranged, and all with various things good to eat. Andrea del Sarto presented an octagonal temple, similar to that of S. Giovanni, but raised upon columns. The pavement was a vast plate of jelly, with a pattern of mosaic in various colors; the columns, which had the appearance of porphyry, were sausages, long and thick; the socles and capitals were of Parmesan cheese; the cornices of sugar, and the tribune was made of sections of marchpane. In the centre was a choir-desk made of cold veal, with a book of lasagne that had the letters and notes of the music made of pepper-corns; and the singers at the desk were cooked thrushes standing with their beaks open, and with certain little shirts after the manner of surplices, made of fine cauls of pigs, and behind them, for the basses, were two fat young pigeons, with six ortolans that sang the soprano. Spillo presented as his dish a smith, which he had made from a great goose or some such bird, with all the instruments wherewith to mend the cauldron in case of need. Domenico Puligo represented by means of a cooked sucking-pig a serving-girl with a distaff at her side, who was watching a brood of chickens, and was there to scour the cauldron. Robetta made out of a calf's head, with appurtenances formed of other fat meats, an anvil for the maintenance of the cauldron, which was very fine and very beautiful, as were also all the other contributions; not to enumerate one by one all the dishes of that supper and of many others that they gave.
The Company of the Cazzuola,* [* Mason's trowel. A sort of curd.] which was similar to the other, and to which Giovan Francesco belonged, had its origin in the following manner. One evening in the year 1512 there were at supper in the garden that Feo d'Agnolo the hunchback, a fife-player and a very merry fellow, had in the Campaccio, with Feo himself, Ser Bastiano Sagginati, Ser Raffaello del Beccaio, Ser Cecchino de' Profumi, Girolamo del Giocondo, and II Baia, and, while they were eating their ricotta,f the eyes of Baia fell on a heap of lime with the trowel sticking in it, just as the mason had left it the day before, by the side of the table in a corner of the garden. Whereupon, taking some of the lime with that trowel, or rather, mason's trowel, he dropped it all into the mouth of Feo, who was waiting with gaping jaws for a great mouthful of ricotta from another of the company. Which seeing, they all began to shout: "A Trowel, a Trowel!" That Company being then formed by reason of that incident, it was ordained that its members should be in all twenty-four, twelve of those who, as the phrase was in those times, were "going for the Great," and twelve of those who were "going for the Less "; and that its emblem should be a trowel, to which they added afterwards those little black tadpoles that have a large head and a tail, which are called in Tuscany Cazzuole. Their Patron Saint was S. Andrew, whose festal day they used to celebrate with much solemnity, giving a most beautiful supper and banquet according to their rules.
The first members of that Company, those "going for the Great," were Jacopo Bottegai, Francesco Rucellai, Domenico his brother, Giovan Battista Ginori, Girolamo del Giocondo, Giovanni Miniati, Niccolo del Barbigia, Mezzabotte his brother, Cosimo da Panzano, Matteo his brother, Marco Jacopi, and Pieraccino Bartoli; and those "going for the Less," Ser Bastiano Sagginati, Ser Raffaello del Beccaio, Ser Cecchino de' Profumi, Giuliano Bugiardini the painter, Francesco Granacci the painter, Giovan Francesco Rustici, Feo the hunchback, his companion II Talina the musician, Pierino the fifer, Giovanni the trombone-player, and II Baia the bombardier. The associates were Bernardino di Giordano, II Talano, II Caiano, Maestro Jacopo del Bientina and M. Giovan Battista di Cristofano Ottonaio, both heralds of the Signoria, Buon Pocci, and Domenico Barlacchi. And not many years passed (so much did they increase in reputation as they held their feasts and merrymakings), before there were elected to that Company of the Cazzuola Signor Giuliano de' Medici, Ottangolo Benvenuti, Giovanni Canigiani, Giovanni Serristori, Giovanni Gaddi, Giovanni Bandini, Luigi Martelli, Paolo da Romena, and Filippo Pandolnni the hunchback; and together with these, at one and the same time, as associates, Andrea del Sarto the painter, Bartolommeo Trombone the musician, Ser Bernardo Pisanello, Piero the cloth-shearer, Gemma the mercer, and lastly Maestro Manente da San Giovanni the physician.
The feasts that these men held at various times were innumerable, and I shall describe only a few of them for the sake of those who do not know the customs of these Companies, which, as has been related, have now fallen almost entirely out of fashion. The first given by the Cazzuola, which was arranged by Giuliano Bugiardini, was held at a place called the Aia,* [* Threshing-floor.] at S. Maria Nuova, where, as we have already said, the gates of S. Giovanni were cast in bronze. There, I say, the master of the Company having commanded that every man should present himself dressed in whatever costume he pleased, on condition that those who might resemble one another in their manner of dress by being clothed in the same fashion, should pay a penalty, at the appointed hour there appeared the most beautiful, bizarre, and extravagant costumes that could be imagined. Then, the hour of supper having come, they were placed at table according to the quality of their clothes those who were dressed as Princes in the first places, the rich and noble after them, and those dressed as poor persons in the last and lowest places. And whether they had games and merrymaking after supper, it is better to leave that to everyone to imagine for himself than to say anything about it.
At another repast, which was arranged by the same Bugiardini and by Giovan Francesco Rustic!, the men of the Company appeared, as the master had commanded, all in the dress of masons and their labourers; that is, those who were "going for the Great " had the trowel with the cutting edge and hammer in their girdles, and those "going for the Less " were dressed as labourers with the hod, the levers for moving weights, and in their girdles the ordinary trowel. When all had arrived in the first room, the lord of the feast showed them the groundplan of an edifice that had to be built by the company, and placed the master-masons at table around it; and then the labourers began to carry up the materials for making the foundations hods full of cooked lasagne and ricotta prepared with sugar for mortar, sand made of cheese, spices, and pepper mixed together, and for gravel large sweetmeats and pieces of berlingozzo.* [* A Florentine cake.] The wall-bricks, paving-bricks, and tiles, which were brought in baskets and hand-barrows, were loaves of bread and flat cakes. A basement having then come up, it appeared to the stone-cutters that it had not been executed and put together well enough, and they judged that it would be a good thing to break it and take it to pieces; where- upon, having set upon it and found it all composed of pastry, pieces of liver, and other suchlike things, they feasted on these, which were placed before them by the labourers. Next, the same laborers having come on the scene with a great column swathed with the cooked tripe of calves, it was taken to pieces, and after distributing the boiled veal, capons, and other things of which it was composed, they eat the base of Parmesan cheese and the capital, which was made in a marvellous manner of pieces carved from roasted capons and slices of veal, with a crown of tongues. But why do I dally over describing all the details ? After the column, there was brought up on a car a very ingenious piece of architrave with frieze and cornice, composed in like manner so well and of so many different viands, that to attempt to describe them all would make too long a story. Enough that when the time came to break up, after many peals of thunder an artificial rain began to fall, and all left the work and fled, each one going to his own house.
Another time, when the master of the same Company was Matteo da Panzano, the banquet was arranged in the following manner. Ceres, seeking Proserpine her daughter, who had been carried off by Pluto, entered the room where the men of the Cazzuola were assembled, and, coming before their master, besought him that they should accompany her to the infernal regions. To which request consenting after much discussion, they went after her, and so, entering into a somewhat darkened room, they saw in place of a door a vast mouth of a serpent, the head of which took up the whole wall. Round which door all crowding together, while Cerberus barked, Ceres called out asking whether her lost daughter were in there, and, a voice having answered Yes, she added that she desired to have her back. But Pluto replied that he would not give her up, and invited Ceres with all the company to the nuptials that were being prepared; and the invitation was accepted. Whereupon, all having entered through that mouth, which was full of teeth, and which, being hung on hinges, opened to each couple of men that entered, and then shut again, they found themselves at last in a great room of a round shape, which had no light but a very little one in the centre, which burned so dim that they could scarcely see one another. There, having been pushed into their seats with a great fork by a most hideous Devil who was in the middle, beside the tables, which were draped in black, Pluto commanded that in honor of his nuptials the pains of Hell should cease for as long as those guests remained there; and so it was done.
Now in that room were painted all the chasms of the regions of the damned, with their pains and torments; and, fire being put to a match of tow, in a flash a light was kindled at each chasm, thus revealing in the picture in what manner and with what pains those who were in it were tormented. The viands of that infernal supper were all animals vile and most hideous in appearance; but nevertheless within, under the loathly covering and the shape of the pastry, were most delicate meats of many kinds. The skin, I say, on the outer side, made it appear as if they were serpents, grass-snakes, lizards large and small, tarantulas, toads, frogs, scorpions, bats, and other suchlike animals; but within all were composed of the choicest viands. And these were placed on the tables before every man with a shovel, under the direction of the Devil, who was in the middle, while a companion poured out exquisite wines from a horn of glass, ugly and monstrous in shape, into glazed crucibles, which served as drinking glasses. These first viands finished, which formed a sort of relish, dead men's bones were set all the way down the table in place of fruits and sweetmeats, as if the supper, which was scarcely begun, were finished; which reliquary fruits were of sugar. That done, Pluto, who proclaimed that he wished to go to his repose with his Proserpine, commanded that the pains should return to torment the damned; and in a moment all the lights that have been mentioned were blown out by a sort of wind, on every side were heard rumblings, voices, and cries, awesome and horrible, and in the middle of that darkness, with a little light, was seen the image of Baia the bombardier, who was one of the guests, as has been related condemned to Hell by Pluto for having always chosen as the subjects and inventions of his girandole and other fireworks the seven mortal sins and the things of Hell. While all were occupied in gazing on that spectacle and listening to various sounds of lamentation, the mournful and funereal table was taken away, and in place of it, lights being kindled, was seen a very rich and regal feast, with splendid servants who brought the rest of the supper, which was handsome and magnificent. At the end of the supper came a ship full of various confections, and the crew of the ship, pretending to remove their merchandize, little by little brought the men of the Company into the upper rooms, where, a very rich scenic setting having been already prepared, there was performed a comedy called the Filogenia, which was much extolled; and at dawn, the play finished, every man went happily home.
years afterwards, it being the turn of the same man, after many feasts and comedies, to be master of the Company another time, he, in order to reprove some of that Company who had spent too much on certain feasts and banquets (only, as the saying goes, to be themselves eaten alive), had his banquet arranged in the following manner. At the Aia, where they were wont to assemble, there were first painted on the wall without the door some of those figures that are generally painted on the walls and porticoes of hospitals, such as the director of the hospital, with gestures full of charity, inviting and receiving beggars and pilgrims. This picture being uncovered late on the evening of the feast, there began to arrive the men of the Company, who, after knocking and being received at the entrance by the director of the hospital, made their way into a great room arranged in the manner of a hospital, with the beds at the sides and other suchlike things. In the middle of that room, round a great fire, were Bientina, Battista dell' Ottonaio, Barlacchi, Baia, and other merry spirits, dressed after the manner of beggars, wastrels, and gallows-birds, who, pretending not to be seen by those who came in from time to time and gathered into a circle, and conversing of the men of the Company and also of themselves, said the hardest things in the world about those who had thrown away their all and spent on suppers and feasts much more than was right. Which discourse finished, when it was seen that all who were to be there had arrived, in came S. Andrew, their Patron Saint, who, leading them out of the hospital, took them into another room, magnificently furnished, where they sat down to table and had a joyous supper. Then the Saint laughingly commanded them that, in order not to be too wasteful with their superfluous expenses, so that they might keep well away from hospitals, they should be con- tented with one feast, a grand and solemn affair, every year; after which he went his way. And they obeyed him, holding a most beautiful supper, with a comedy, every year over a long period of time; and thus there were performed at various times, as was related in the Life of Aristotile da San Gallo, the Calandra of M. Bernardo, Cardinal of Bibbiena, the Suppositi and the Cassaria of Ariosto, and the Clizia and Mandragola of Macchiavelli, with many others.
Francesco and Domenico Rucellai, for the feast that it fell to them to give when they were masters of the Company, performed first the Arpie of Fineo, and the second time, after a disputation of philosophers on the Trinity, they caused to be represented S. Andrew throwing open a Heaven with all the choirs of the Angels, which was in truth a very rare spectacle. And Giovanni Gaddi, with the help of Jacopo Sansovino, Andrea del Sarto, and Giovan Francesco Rustici, represented a Tantalus in Hell, who gave a feast to all the men of the Company clothed in the dress of various Gods; with all the rest of the fable, and many fanciful inventions of gardens, scenes of Paradise, fireworks, and other things, to recount which would make our story too long. A very beautiful invention, also, was that of Luigi Martelli, when, being master of the Company, he gave them supper in the house of Giuliano Scali at the Porta Pinti; for he represented Mars all smeared with blood, to signify his cruelty, in a room full of bloody human limbs; in another room he showed Mars and Venus naked in a bed, and a little farther on Vulcan, who, having covered them with the net, was calling all the Gods to see the outrage done to him by Mars and by his sorry spouse.
But it is now time after this digression, which may perchance appear to some too long, although for many reasons it does not seem to me that this account has been given wholly out of place that I return to the Life of Rustici. Giovan Francesco, then, not liking much to live in Florence after the expulsion of the Medici in the year 1528, left the charge of all his affairs to Niccolo Buoni, and went off with his young man Lorenzo Naldini, called Guazzetto, to France, where, having been made known to King Francis by Giovan Battista della Palla, who happened to be there then, and by Francesco di Pellegrino, his very dear friend, who had gone there a short time before, he was received very willingly, and an allowance of five hundred crowns a year was granted to him. By that King, for whom Giovan Francesco executed some works of which nothing in particular is known, he was finally commissioned to make a horse in bronze, twice the size of life, upon which was to be placed the King himself. Whereupon, having set his hand to the work, after some models which much pleased the King, he went on with the making of the large model and the mould for casting it, in a large palace given to him for his enjoyment by the King. But, whatever may have been the reason, the King died before the work was finished; and since at the beginning of Henry's reign many persons had their allowances taken away and the expenses of the Court were cut down, it is said that Giovan Francesco, now old and not very prosperous, had nothing to live upon save the profit that he made by letting the great palace and dwelling that he had received for his own enjoyment from the liberality of King Francis.
And Fortune, not content with all that the poor man had endured up to that time, gave him, in addition to all the rest, another very great shock, in that King Henry presented that palace to Signor Piero Strozzi; and Giovan Francesco would have found himself in very dire straits, if the goodness of that lord, to whom the misfortunes of Rustici were a great grief (the latter having made himself known to him), had not brought him timely aid in the hour of his greatest need. For Signor Piero, sending him to an abbey or some other place, whatever it may have been, belonging to his brother, not only succoured Giovan Francesco in his needy old age, but even had him attended and cared for, according as his great worth deserved, until the end of his life. Giovan Francesco died at the age of eighty, and his possessions fell for the most part to the above-named Signor Piero Strozzi. I must not omit to tell that it has come to my ears that while Antonio Mini, a disciple of Buonarroti, was living in France, when he was entertained and treated with much lovingness in Paris by Giovan Francesco, there came into the hands of Rustici some cartoons, designs, and models by the hand of Michelagnolo; a part of which the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini received when he was in France, and he brought them to Florence.
Giovan Francesco, as has been said, was not only without an equal in the work of casting, but also exemplary in conduct, of supreme goodness, and a great lover of the poor. Wherefore it is no marvel that he was assisted most liberally in the hour of his need by the above-mentioned Signor Piero with money and every other thing, for it is true beyond all other truths that even in this life the good works that we do to our neighbours for the love of God are repaid a thousand-fold. Rustici drew very well, as may be seen, besides our own book, from the book of drawings of the very reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini.
The above-mentioned Lorenzo Naldini, called Guazzetto, the disciple of Rustici, has executed many works of sculpture excellently well in France, but of these I have not been able to learn any particulars, any more than of those of his master, who, it may well be believed, did not stay all those years in France as good as idle, nor always occupied with that horse of his. That Lorenzo possessed some houses beyond the Porta a San Gallo, in the suburbs that were destroyed on account of the siege of Florence, which houses were thrown to the ground together with the rest by the people. That circumstance so grieved him, that, returning in the year 1540 to revisit his country, when he was within a quarter of a mile of Florence he put the hood of his cloak over his head, covering his eyes, in order that, in entering by that gate, he might not see the suburb and his own houses all pulled down. Wherefore the guards at the gate, seeing him thus muffled up, asked him what that meant, and, having heard from him why he had so covered his face, they laughed at him. Lorenzo, after being a few months in Florence, returned to France, taking his mother with him; and there he still lives and labors.
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