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TADDEO ZUCCHERO
PAINTER OF SANT' AGNOLO IN VADO
Part 3

Vasari's Lives of the Artists


In the year 1560 the Pope expected in Rome the Lord Duke Cosimo and the Lady Duchess Leonora, his consort, and proposed to lodge their Excellencies in the apartments formerly built by Innocent VIII, which look out upon the first court of the Palace and that of S. Pietro, and have in front of them loggie that look out on the piazza where the Benediction is given; and Taddeo received the charge of painting the pictures and some friezes that were to be executed there, and of over- laying with gold the new ceilings that had been made in place of the old ones, which had been consumed by time. In that work, which was certainly a great and important undertaking, Federigo, to whom his brother Taddeo gave the charge of almost the whole, acquitted himself very well; but he incurred a great danger, for, as he was painting grotesques in those loggie, he fell from a staging that rested on the main part of the scaffolding, and was near coming to an evil end.

No long time passed before Cardinal Emulio, to whom the Pope had given the charge of the matter, commissioned many young men, to the end that the work might be finished quickly, to paint the little palace that is in the wood of the Belvedere, which was begun in the time of Pope Paul IV with a most beautiful fountain and many ancient statues as ornaments, after an architectural design by Pirro Ligorio. The young men who worked (with great credit to themselves) in that place, were Federigo Barocci of Urbino, a youth of great promise, and Leonardo Cungi and Durante del Nero, both of Borgo San Sepolcro, who executed the apartments of the first floor. At the head of the staircase, which was made in a spiral shape, the first room was painted by Santi Titi, a painter of Florence, who acquitted himself very well; the larger room, which is beside the first, was painted by the above-named Federigo Zucchero, the brother of Taddeo; and the Sclavonian Giovanni dal Carso, a passing good master of grotesques, executed another room beyond it.

But, although each of the men named above acquitted himself very well, nevertheless Federigo surpassed all the others in some stories of Christ that he painted there, such as the Transfiguration, the Marriage of Cana in Galilee, and the Centurion kneeling before Christ. And of two that were still wanting, one was painted by Orazio Sammacchini, a Bolognese painter, and the other by a certain Lorenzo Costa of Mantua. The same Federigo Zucchero painted in that place the little loggia that looks out over the fishpond. And then he painted a frieze in the principal hall of the Belvedere (to which one ascends by the spiral staircase), with stories of Moses and Pharaoh, beautiful to a marvel; the design for which work, drawn and coloured with his own hand in a most beautiful drawing, Federigo himself gave not long since to the Reverend Don Vincenzio Borghini, who holds it very dear as a drawing by the hand of an excellent painter. In the same place, also, Federigo painted the Angel slaying the first-born in Egypt, availing himself, in order to finish it the quicker, of the help of many of his young men. But when those works came to be valued by certain persons, the labours of Federigo and the others were not rewarded as they should have been, because there are among our craftsmen in Rome, as well as in Florence and everywhere else, some most malignant spirits who, blinded by prejudice and envy, are not able or not willing to recognize the merits of the works of others and the deficiency of their own; and such persons are very often the reason that the young men of fine genius, becoming dismayed, grow cold in their studies and their work. After these works, Federigo painted in the Office of the Ruota, about an escutcheon of Pope Pius IV, two figures larger than life, Justice and Equity, which were much extolled; thus giving time to Taddeo, meanwhile, to attend to the work of Caprarola and the chapel in S. Marcello.

In the meantime his Holiness, wishing at all costs to finish the Hall of Kings, after the many contentions that had taken place between Daniello and Salviati, as has been related, gave orders to the Bishop of Forll as to all that he wished him to do in the matter. Wherefore the Bishop wrote to Vasari (on the 3rd of September in the year 1561), that the Pope, wishing to finish the work of the Hall of Kings, had given him the charge of finding men who might once and for all take it off his hands, and that therefore, moved by their ancient friendship and by other reasons, he besought Giorgio to consent to go to Rome in order to execute that work, with the good pleasure and leave of his master the Duke, for the reason that, while giving satisfaction to his Holiness, he would win much honour and profit for himself; praying him to answer as soon as possible. Replying to which letter, Vasari said that, finding himself very well placed in the service of the Duke, and remunerated for his labours with rewards different from those that he had received from other Pontiffs in Rome, he intended to remain in the service of his Excellency, for whom he was at that very time to set his hand to a hall much greater than the Hall of Kings; and that there was no want in Rome of men who might be employed in that work. The above-named Bishop having received that answer from Vasari, and having conferred with his Holiness of the whole matter, Cardinal Emulio, immediately after receiving from the Pontiff the charge of having that Hall finished, divided the work, as has been related, among many young men, some of whom were already in Rome, and others were summoned from other places. To Giuseppe Porta of Castelnuovo della Garfagnana, a disciple of Salviati, were given two of the largest scenes in the Hall; to Girolamo Siciolante of Sermoneta, one of the large scenes and one of the small; to Orazio Sammacchini of Bologna one of the small scenes, to Livio da Forli a similar one, and to Giovan Battista Fiorini of Bologna yet another of the small scenes.

Which hearing, Taddeo perceived that he had been excluded because it had been said to the above-named Cardinal Emulio that he was a person who gave more attention to gain than to glory and working well; and he did his utmost with Cardinal Farnese to obtain a part of that work. But the Cardinal, not wishing to move in the matter, answered him that his Tabours at Caprarola should content him, and that it did not seem to him right that his own works should be neglected by reason of the rivalry and emulation between the craftsmen; adding also that, when a master does well, it is the works that give a name to the place, and not the place to the works. Notwithstanding this, Taddeo so went to work by other means with Emulio, that finally he was commissioned to execute one of the smaller scenes over a door, not being able, either by prayers or by any other means, to obtain the commission for one of the large scenes; and, in truth, it is said that Emulio was acting with caution in the matter, for the reason that, hoping that Giuseppe Salviati would surpass all the others, he was minded to give him the rest, and perchance to throw to the ground all that might have been done by the others. Now, after all the men named above had carried their works well forward, the Pope desired to see them all; and so, everything being uncovered, he recognized (and all the Cardinals and the best craftsmen were of the same opinion) that Taddeo had acquitted himself better than any of the others, although all had done passing well. His Holiness, therefore, commanded Signor Agabrio that he should cause Cardinal Emulio to commission him to execute one of the larger scenes; whereupon the headwall was allotted to him, wherein is the door of the Pauline Chapel. And there he made a beginning with the work, but he did not carry it any farther, for, the death of the Pope supervening, everything was uncovered for the holding of the Conclave, although many of those scenes had not been finished. Of the scene that Taddeo began in that place, we have the design by his hand, sent to us by him, in the book of drawings that we have so often mentioned.

Taddeo painted at the same time, besides some other little things, a picture with a very beautiful Christ, which was to be sent to Caprarola for Cardinal Farnese ; which work is now in the possession of his brother Federigo, who says that he desires it for himself as long as he lives. The picture receives its light from some weeping Angels, who are holding torches. But since the works that Taddeo executed at Caprarola will be described at some length in a little time, in discoursing of Vignuola, who built that fabric, for the present I shall say nothing more of them.

Federigo was meanwhile summoned to Venice, and made an agree- ment with the Patriarch Grimani to finish for him the chapel in S. Francesco della Vigna, which had remained incomplete, as has been related, on account of the death of the Venetian Battista Franco. But, before he began that chapel, he adorned for that Patriarch the staircase of his Palace in Venice, with little figures placed with much grace in certain ornaments of stucco ; and then he executed in fresco, in the above- named chapel, the two stories of Lazarus and the Conversion of the Magdalene, the design of which, by the hand of Federigo, is in our book. Afterwards, in the altarpiece of the same chapel, Federigo painted the story of the Magi in oils. And then he painted some pictures in a loggia, which are much extolled, at the villa of M. Giovan Battista Pellegrini, between Chioggia and Monselice, where Andrea Schiavone and the Flemings, Lamberto and Gualtieri, have executed many works.

After the departure of Federigo, Taddeo continued to work in fresco all that summer in the chapel of S. Marcello ; and for that chapel, finally, he painted in the altarpiece the Conversion of S. Paul. In that picture may be seen, executed in a beautiful manner, the Saint fallen from his horse and all dazed by the splendor and voice of Jesus Christ, whom he depicted amid a Glory of Angels, in the act, so it appears, of saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" His followers, who are about him, are likewise struck with awe, and stand as if bereft of their senses. On the vaulting, within certain ornaments of stucco, he painted in fresco three stories of the same Saint. In one he is being taken as a prisoner to Rome, and disembarks on the Island of Malta; and there may be seen how, on the kindling of the fire, a viper strikes at his hand to bite it, while some mariners, almost naked, stand in various attitudes about the barque; in another is the scene when a young man, having fallen from a window, is brought to S. Paul, who by the power of God restores him to life; and in the third is the Beheading and Death of the Saint. On the walls below are two large scenes, likewise in fresco; in one is S. Paul healing a man crippled in the legs, and in the other a disputation, wherein he causes a magician to be struck with blindness; and both the one and the other are truly most beautiful. But that work having been left incomplete by reason of his death, Federigo has finished it this year, and it has been thrown open to view with great credit to him. At this same time Federigo executed some pictures in oils, which were sent to France by the Ambassador of that kingdom.

The little hall in the Farnese Palace having remained unfinished on account of the death of Salviati (wanting two scenes, namely, at the entrance, opposite to the great window), Cardinal Sant' Agnolo, of the Farnese family, gave them to Taddeo to execute, and he carried them to completion very well. But nevertheless he did not surpass or even equal Francesco in the works executed by him in the same apartment, as certain envious and malignant spirits went about saying throughout Rome, in order to diminish the glory of Salviati by their foul calumnies ; and although Taddeo used to defend himself by saying that he had caused the whole to be executed by his assistants, and that there was nothing in that work by his hand save the design and a few other things, such excuses were not accepted, for the reason that a man who wishes to surpass another in any competition, must not entrust the credit of his art to the keeping of feeble persons, for that is clearly the way to perdition. Thus Cardinal Sant' Agnolo, a man of truly supreme judgment in all things, and of surpassing goodness, recognized how much he had lost by the death of Salviati; for, although he was proud and even arrogant, and ill-tempered, in matters of painting he was truly most excellent. However, since the best craftsmen had disappeared from Rome, that lord, for want of others, resolved to entrust the painting of the Great Hall in that Palace to Taddeo, who accepted it willingly, in the hope of being able to prove by means of every effort how great were his ability and knowledge.

The Florentine Lorenzo Pucci, Cardinal Santiquattro, had formerly caused a chapel to be built in the Trinita, and all the vaulting to be painted by Perino del Vaga, with certain Prophets on the outer side, and two little boys holding the arms of that Cardinal. But the chapel remaining unfinished, with three walls still to be painted, when the Cardinal died, those fathers, without any regard for what was just and reasonable, sold that chapel to the Archbishop of Corfu ; and it was after- wards given by that Archbishop to Taddeo to paint. Now although, out of respect for the church and from other reasons, it may have been well to find means of finishing the chapel, at least they should not have allowed the arms of the Cardinal to be removed from the part that was finished, only in order to place there those of the above-named Archbishop, which they could have set up in another place, instead of offering so manifest an affront to the memory of that good Cardinal. Having thus so many works on his hands, Taddeo was every day urging Federigo to return from Venice. That Federigo, after having finished the chapel for the Patriarch, was negotiating to undertake to paint the principal wall of the Great Hall of the Council, where Antonio Viniziano had formerly painted ; but the rivalry and the contentions that he suffered from the Venetian painters were the reason that neither they, with all their interest, nor he, likewise, obtained it.

Meanwhile Taddeo, having a desire to see Florence and the many works which, so he heard, Duke Cosimo had carried out and was still carrying out, and the beginning that his friend Giorgio Vasari was making in the Great Hall; Taddeo, I say, pretending one day to go to Caprarola in connection with the work that he was doing there, went off to Florence for the Festival of S. John, in company with Tiberio Calcagni, a young Florentine sculptor and architect. There, to say nothing of the city, he found vast pleasure in the works of the many excellent sculptors and painters, ancient as well as modern; and if he had not bad so many charges and so many works on his hands, he would gladly have stayed there some months. Thus he saw the preparations of Vasari for the above- named Hall namely, forty-four great pictures, of four, six, seven, or ten braccia each in which he was executing figures for the most part of six or eight braccia, with the assistance only of the Fleming Giovanni Strada and Jacopo Zucchi, his disciples, and Battista Naldini, in all which he took the greatest pleasure, and, hearing that all had been executed in less than a year, it gave him great courage. Wherefore, having returned to Rome, he set his hand to the above-named chapel in the Trinita, with the resolve that he would surpass himself in the stories of Our Lady that were to be painted there, as will be related presently.

Now Federigo, although he was pressed to return from Venice, was not able to refuse to stay in that city for the Carnival in company with the architect Andrea Palladio. And Andrea, having made for the gentlemen of the Company of the Calza a theatre in wood after the manner of a Colosseum, in which a tragedy was to be performed, caused Federigo to execute for the decoration of the same twelve large scenes, each seven feet and a half square, with innumerable other stories of the actions of Hyrcanus, King of Jerusalem, after the subject of the tragedy; in which work Federigo gained much honour, from its excellence and from the rapidity with which he executed it. Next, Palladio going to Friuli to found the Palace of Civitale, of which he had previously made the model, Federigo went with him in order to see that country; and there he drew many things that pleased him. Then, after having seen many things in Verona and in many other cities of Lombardy, he finally made his way to Florence, at the very time when festive preparations, rich and marvellous, were being made for the coming of Queen Joanna of Austria. Having arrived there, he executed, after the desire of the Lord Duke, a most beautiful and fanciful Hunt in colours on a vast canvas that covered the stage at the end of the Hall, and some scenes in chiaroscuro for an arch ; all which gave infinite satisfaction. From Florence he went to Sant' Agnolo, to revisit his relatives and friends, and finally he arrived in Rome on the i6th of the January following; but he was of little assistance to Taddeo at that time, for the reason that the death of Pope Pius IV, followed by that of Cardinal Sant' Agnolo, interrupted the work of the Hall of Kings and that of the Farnese Palace. Whereupon Taddeo, who had finished another apartment of rooms at Caprarola, and had carried almost to completion the chapel in S. Marcello, proceeded to give his attention to the work of the Trinita, much at his leisure, and to execute the Passing of Our Lady, with the Apostles standing about the bier.

In the meantime, also, Taddeo had obtained for Federigo a chapel to be painted in fresco in the Church of the Reformed Priests of Jesus at the Obelisk of S. Mauro; and to that Federigo straightway set his hand. Taddeo, feigning to be angry because Federigo had delayed too long to return, appeared to care little for his arrival; but in truth he welcomed it greatly, as was afterwards seen from the result. For he was much annoyed by having to provide for his house (of which annoyance Federigo had been accustomed to relieve him), and by the anxious care of that brother who was employed as a goldsmith; but when Federigo came they put many inconveniences to rights, in order to be able to attend to their work with a quiet mind. The friends of Taddeo were seeking meanwhile to give him a wife, but he, being one who was accustomed to living free, and feared that which generally happens (namely, that he would bring into his house, together with the wife, a thousand vexatious cares and annoyances), could never make up his mind to it. Nay, attending to his work in the Trinita, he proceeded to make the cartoon of the principal wall, on which there was going the Ascension of Our Lady into Heaven-- while Federigo painted a picture of S. Peter in Prison for~the Lord Duke of Urbino; another, wherein is a Madonna in Heaven with some Angels about her, which was to be sent to Milan; and a third with a figure of Opportunity, which was sent to Perugia.

The Cardinal of Ferrara had kept many painters and masters in stucco at work at the very beautiful villa that he has at Tivoli, and finally he sent Federigo there to paint two rooms, one of which is dedicated to Nobility, and the other to Glory; in which Federigo acquitted himself very well, executing there beautiful and fantastic inventions. That finished, he returned to the work of the above-mentioned chapel in Rome, which he has carried to completion, painting in it a choir of many Angels and various Glories, with God the Father sending down the Holy Spirit upon the Madonna, who is receiving the Annunciation from the Angel Gabriel, while about her are six Prophets, larger than life and very beautiful. Taddeo, meanwhile, continuing to paint the Assumption of the Madonna in fresco in the Trinita, appeared to be driven by nature to do in that work, as his last, the utmost in his power. And in truth it proved to be his last, for, having fallen ill of a sickness which at first appeared to be slight enough, and caused by the great heat that there was that year, and which afterwards became very grave, he died in the month of September in the year 1566; having first, like a good Christian, received the Sacraments of the Church, and seen the greater part of his friends, and leaving in his place his brother Federigo, who was also ill at that time. And so in a short time, Buonarroti, Salviati, Daniello, and Taddeo having been taken from the world, our arts have suffered a very great loss, and particularly the art of painting.

Taddeo was very bold in his work, and had a manner passing soft and pastose, and very far removed from the hardness often seen. He was very abundant in his compositions, and he made his heads, hands, and nudes very beautiful, keeping them free of the many crudities over which certain painters labour beyond all reason, in order to make it appear that they understand anatomy and art ; to which kind of men there often happens that which befell him who, from his seeking to be in his speech more Athenian than the Athenians, was recognized by a woman of the people to be no Athenian. Taddeo also handled colours with much delicacy, and he had great facility of manner, for he was much assisted by nature; but at times he sought to make too much use of it. He was so desirous of having something of his own, that he continued for a time to accept any sort of work for the sake of gain ; but for all that he executed many, nay, innumerable works worthy of great praise. He kept a number of assistants in order to finish his works, for the reason that it is not possible to do otherwise. He was sanguine, hasty, and quick to take offence, and, in addition, much given to the pleasures of love; but nevertheless, although he was strongly inclined by nature to such pleasures, he contrived to conduct his affairs with a certain degree of decency, and very secretly. He was loving with his friends, and whenever he could help them he never spared himself.

At his death he left the work in the Trinita not yet uncovered, and the Great Hall in the Farnese Palace unfinished, and so also the works of Caprarola, but nevertheless these all remained in the hands of his brother Federigo, whom the patrons of the works are content to allow to give them completion, as he will do; and, in truth, Federigo will be heir to the talents of Taddeo no less than to his property. Taddeo was given burial by Federigo in the Ritonda of Rome, near the tabernacle where Raffaello da Urbino, his fellow-countryman, is buried; and certainly they are well placed, one beside the other, for the reason that even as Raffaello died at the age of thirty-seven and on the same day that he was born, which was Good Friday, so Taddeo was born on the first day of September, 1529, and died on the second day of the same month in the year 1566. Federigo is minded, if it should be granted to him, to restore the other tabernacle in the Ritonda, and to make some memorial in that place to his loving brother, to whom he knows himself to be deeply indebted.



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