Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists
Charity. Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
Finally, Francesco being about to set out for Rome, Giorgio, as his friend, reminded him that, being rich, advanced in years, weak in health, and little fitted for more fatigues, he should think of living in peace and shun strife and contention, which he would have been able to do with ease, having acquired honor and property in plenty, if he had not been too avaricious and desirous of gain. He exhorted him, in addition, to sell the greater part of the offices that he possessed and to arrange his affairs in such a manner, that in any emergency or any misfortune that might happen he might be able to remember his friends and those who had given him faithful and loving service. Francesco promised that he would do right both in word and deed, and confessed that Giorgio had spoken the truth; but, as happens to most of the men who think that time will last for ever, he did nothing more in the matter. Having arrived in Rome, Francesco found that Cardinal Emulio had distributed the scenes of the Hall, giving two of them to Taddeo Zucchero of Sant' Agnolo, one to Livio da Forli, another to Orazio da Bologna, yet another to Girolamo da Sermoneta, and the rest to others. Which being reported by Francesco to Giorgio, whom he asked whether it would be well for him to continue the work that he had begun, he received the answer that it would be a good thing, after making so many little designs and large cartoons, to finish at least one picture, notwithstanding that the greater part of the work had been allotted to so many others, all much inferior to him, and that he should make an effort to approach as near as possible in his work to the pictures by Buonarroti on the walls and vaulting of the Sistine Chapel, and to those of the Pauline; for the reason that after his work was seen, the others would be thrown to the ground, and all, to his great glory, would be allotted to him. And Giorgio warned him to give no thought to profit or money, or to any vexation that he might suffer from those in charge of the work, telling him that the honor was much more important than any other thing. Of all these letters and of the replies, the originals, as well as copies, are among those that we ourselves treasure in memory of so great a man, who was our dearest friend, and among those by our own hand that must have been found among his possessions.
After these things Francesco was living in an angry mood, in no way certain as to what he wished to do, afflicted in mind, feeble in body, and weakened by everlasting medicines, when finally he fell ill with the illness of death, which carried him in a short time to the last extremity, without having given him time to make a complete disposal of his possessions. To a disciple called Annibale, the son of Nanni di Baccio Bigio, he left sixty crowns a year on the Monte delle Farine, fourteen pictures, and all his designs and other art possessions. The rest of his property he left to Suor Gabriella, his sister, a nun, although I understand that she did not receive, as the saying goes, even the "cord of the sack." However, there must have come into her hands a picture painted on cloth of silver, with embroidery around it, which he had executed for the King of Portugal or of Poland, whichever it was, and left to her to the end that she might keep it in memory of him. All his other possessions, such as the offices that he had bought after unspeakable fatigues, all were lost.
Francesco died on S. Martin's Day, the nth of November, in the year 1563, and was buried in S. Gieronimo, a church near the house where he lived. The death of Francesco was a very great loss to art, seeing that, although he was fifty-four years of age and weak in health, he was continually studying and working, cost what it might; and at the very last he had set himself to work in mosaic. It is evident that he was capricious, and would have liked to do many things; and if he had found a Prince who could have recognized his humour and could have given him works after his fancy, he would have achieved marvellous things, for, as we have said, he was rich, fertile, and most exuberant in every kind of invention, and a master in every field of painting. He gave great beauty and grace to every kind of head, and he understood the nude as well as any other painter of his time. He had a Very graceful and delicate manner in painting draperies, arranging them in such a way that the nude could always be perceived in the parts where that was required, and clothing his figures in new fashions of dress; and he showed fancy and variety in headdresses, footwear, and every other kind of ornament. He handled colors in oils, in distemper, and in fresco in such a manner, that it may be affirmed that he was one of the most able, resolute, bold, and diligent craftsmen of our age, and to this we, who associated with him for so many years, are well able to bear testimony. And although there was always between us a certain proper emulation, by reason of the desire that good craftsmen have to surpass one another, none the less, with regard to the claims of friendship, there was never any lack of love and affection between us, although each of us worked in competition in the most famous places in Italy, as may be seen from a vast number of letters that are in my possession, as I have said, written by the hand of Francesco. Salviati was affectionate by nature, but suspicious, acute, subtle, and penetrative, and yet ready to believe any- thing; and when he set himself to speak of some of the men of our arts, either in jest or in earnest, he was likely to give offence, and at times touched them to the quick. It pleased him to mix with men of learning and great persons, and he always held plebeian craftsmen in detestation, even though they might be able in some field of art. He avoided such persons as always speak evil, and when the conversation turned on them he would tear them to pieces without mercy. But most of all he abhorred the knaveries that craftsmen sometimes commit, of which, having been in France, and having heard something of them, he was only too well able to speak. At times, in order to be less weighed down by his melan- choly, he used to mingle with his friends and force himself to be cheerful. But in the end his strange nature, so irresolute, suspicious, and solitary, did harm to no one but himself.
His dearest friend was Manno, a Florentine goldsmith in Rome, a man rare in his profession and excellent in character and goodness of heart. Manno is burdened with a family, and if Francesco had been able to dispose of his property, and had not spent all the fruits of his labors on offices, only to leave them to the Pope, he would have left a great part of them to that worthy man and excellent craftsman. Very dear to him, likewise, was the above-mentioned Avveduto dell' Avveduto, a dresser of minever-furs, who was the most loving and most faithful friend that Francesco ever had; and if he had been in Rome when Francesco died, Salviati would probably have arranged certain of his affairs with better judgment than he did.
His disciple, also, was the Spaniard Roviale, who executed many works in company with him, and by himself an altarpiece containing the Conversion of S. Paul for the Church of S. Spirito in Rome. And Salviati was very well disposed towards Francesco di Girolamo dal Prato, in company with whom, as has been related above, he studied design while still a child ; which Francesco was a man of most beautiful genius, and drew better than any other goldsmith of his time; and he was not inferior to his father Girolamo, who executed every kind of work with plates of silver better than any of his rivals. It is said that Girolamo succeeded with ease in any kind of work; thus, having beaten the plate of silver with certain hammers, he placed it on a piece of plank, and between the two a layer of wax, tallow and pitch, producing in that way a material midway between soft and hard, and then, beating it with iron instruments both inwards and outwards, he caused it to come out in whatever shapes he desired heads, breasts, arms, legs, backs, and any other thing that he wished or was demanded from him by those who caused votive offerings to be made, in order to attach them to those holy images that were to be found in any place where they had received favours or had been heard in their prayers. Francesco, then, not attend- ing only to the making of votive offerings, as his father did, worked also at tausia and at inlaying steel with gold and silver after the manner of damascening, making foliage, figures, and any other kind of work that he wished; in which manner of inlaid work he made a complete suit of armour for a foot-soldier, of great beauty, for Duke Alessandro de' Medici. Among many medals that the same man made, those were by his hand, and very beautiful, which were placed in the foundations of the fortifications at the Porta a Faenza, with the head of the above-named Duke Alessandro; together with others in which there was on one"side the head of Pope Clement VII, and on the other a nude Christ with the scourges of His Passion.
Francesco also delighted in the work of sculpture, and cast some little figures in bronze, full of grace, which came into the possession of Duke Alessandro. And the same master polished and carried to great perfection four similar figures, made by Baccio Bandinelli namely, a Leda, a Venus, a Hercules, and an Apollo which were given to the same Duke. Being dissatisfied, then, with the goldsmith's craft, and not being able to give his attention to sculpture, which calls for too many resources, Francesco, having a good knowledge of design, devoted himself to painting; and since he was a person who mixed little with others, and did not care to have it known more than was inevitable that he was giving his attention to painting, he executed many works by himself. Meanwhile, as was related at the beginning, Francesco Salviati came to Florence, and he worked at the picture for M. Alamanno in the rooms that the other Francesco occupied in the Office of Works of S. Maria del Fiore; wherefore with that opportunity, seeing Salviati's method of working, he applied himself to painting with much more zeal than he had done up to that time, and executed a very beautiful picture of the Conversion of S. Paul, which is now in the possession of Guglielmo del Tovaglia. And after that, in a picture of the same size, he painted the Serpents raining down on the Hebrew people, and in another he painted Jesus Christ delivering the Holy Fathers from the Limbo of Hell; which two last-named pictures, both very beautiful, now belong to Filippo Spini, a gentleman who much delights in our arts. Besides many other little works that Francesco dal Prato executed, he drew much and well, as may be seen from some designs by his hand that are in our book of drawings. He died in the year 1562, and his death much grieved the whole Academy, because, besides his having been an able master in art, there was never a more excellent man than Francesco.
Another pupil of Francesco Salviati was Giuseppe Porta of Castelnuovo della Garfagnana, who, out of respect for his master, was also called Giuseppe Salviati. This Giuseppe, having been taken to Rome as a boy, in the year 1535, by an uncle, the secretary of Monsignor Onofrio Bartolini, Archbishop of Pisa, was placed with Salviati, under whom he learned in a short time not only to draw very finely, but also to use colour excellently well. He then went with his master to Venice, where he formed so many connections with noble persons, that, being left there by Francesco, he made up his mind that he would choose that city as his home; and so, having taken a wife there, he has lived there ever since, and he has worked in few other places but Venice. He painted long ago the facade of the house of the Loredani on the Campo di S. Stefano, with scenes very pleasingly colored in fresco and executed in a beautiful manner. He painted, likewise, that of the Bernardi at S. Polo, and another behind S. Rocco, which is a very good work. Three other fagades he has painted in chiaroscuro, very large and covered with various scenes one at S. Moise, the second at S. Cassiano, and the third at S. Maria Zebenigo. He has also painted in fresco, at a place called Treville, near Treviso, the whole of the Palace of the Priuli, a rich and vast building, both within and without; of which building there will be a long account in the Life of Sansovino; and at Pieve di Sacco he has painted a very beautiful facade. At Bagnuolo, a seat of the Friars of S. Spirito at Venice, he has executed an altarpiece in oils; and for the same fathers he has painted the ceiling, or rather, soffit of the refectory in the Convent of S. Spirito, with a number of compartments filled with painted pictures, and a most beautiful Last Supper on the principal wall. For the Hall of the Doge, in the Palace of S. Marco, he has painted the Sibyls, the Prophets, the Cardinal Virtues, and Christ with the Maries, which have won him vast praise; and in the above-mentioned Library of S. Marco he painted two large scenes, in competition with the other painters of Venice of whom mention has been made above. Being summoned to Rome by Cardinal Emulio after the death of Francesco, he finished one of the larger scenes that are in the Hall of Kings, and began another; and then, Pope Pius IV having died, he returned to Venice, where the Signoria commissioned him to paint a ceiling with pictures in oils, which is at the head of the new staircase in the Palace.
The same master has painted six very beautiful altarpieces in oils, one of which is on the altar of the Madonna in S. Francesco della Vigna, the second on the high altar in the Church of the Servites, the third is with the Friars Minors, the fourth in the Madonna dell' Orto, the fifth at S. Zaccheria, and the sixth at S. Moise; and he has painted two at Murano, which are beautiful and executed with much diligence and in a lovely manner. But of this Giuseppe, who is still alive and is becoming a very excellent master, I say no more for the present, save that, in addition to his painting, he devotes much study to geometry. By his hand is the Volute of the Ionic Capital that is to be seen in print at the present day, showing how it should be turned after the ancient measure; and there is to appear soon a work that he has composed on the subject of geometry.
A disciple of Francesco, also, was one Domenico Romano, who was of great assistance to him in the hall that he painted in Florence, and in other works. Domenico engaged himself in the year 1550 to Signor Giuliano Cesarino, and he does not work on his own account.