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Italy: Leonardo da Vinci Paintings

- - Sanny Tendilla

We come now to one of the most celebrated masters of Italy, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), the head of the Lombard or Milanese school. He was not the equal of the great masters, Michael Angelo, Raphael, and Titian; but he stands between them and the painters who preceded him or those of his own day.

In some respects, however, he was the most extraordinary man of his time. His talents were many-sided; for he was not only a great artist, but also a fine scholar in mathematics and mechanics; he wrote poetry and composed music, and was with all this so attractive personally, and so brilliant in his manner, that he was a favorite wherever he went. It is probable that this versatility prevented his being very great in any one thing, while he was remarkable in many things.

When still very young Leonardo showed his artistic talent. The paper upon which he worked out his sums was frequently bordered with little pictures which he drew while thinking on his lessons, and these sketches at last attracted his father’s attention, and he showed them to his friend Andrea Verrocchio, an artist of Florence, who advised that the boy should become a painter. Accordingly, in 1470, when eighteen years old, Leonardo was placed under the care of Verrocchio, who was like a kind father to his pupils: he was not only a painter, but also an architect and sculptor, a musician and a geometer, and he especially excelled in making exquisite cups of gold and silver, crucifixes and statuettes such as were in great demand for the use of the priesthood in those days.
Leonardo da Vinci From a drawing in red chalk by himself
Fig. 35.—Leonardo da Vinci. From a drawing in red chalk by himself.
In the Royal Library, Turin.
Pietro Perugino was a fellow-pupil with Leonardo, and they two soon surpassed their master in painting, and at last, when Verrocchio was painting a picture for the monks of Vallambrosa, and desired Leonardo to execute an angel in it, the work of his pupil was so much better than his own that the old painter desired to throw his brush aside forever. The picture is now in the Academy of Florence, and represents “The Baptism of Christ.” With all his refinement and sweetness, Leonardo had a liking for the horrible. It once happened that a countryman brought to his father a circular piece of wood cut from a fig-tree, and desired to have it painted for a shield; it was handed over to Leonardo, who collected in his room a number of lizards, snakes, bats, hedgehogs, and other frightful creatures, and from these painted an unknown monster having certain characteristics of the horrid things he had about him. The hideous creature was surrounded by fire, and was breathing out flames. When his father saw it he ran away in a fright, and Leonardo was greatly pleased at this. The countryman received an ordinary shield, and this Rotello del Fico (or shield of fig-tree wood) was sold to a merchant for one hundred ducats, and again to the Duke of Milan for three times that sum. This shield has now been lost for more than three centuries; but another horror, the “Medusa’s Head,” is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and is a head surrounded by interlacing serpents, the eyes being glassy and deathlike and the mouth most revolting in expression.

While in Florence Leonardo accomplished much, but was at times diverted from his painting by his love of science, sometimes making studies in astronomy and again in natural history and botany; he also went much into society, and lived extravagantly. He had the power to remember faces that he had seen accidentally, and could make fine portraits from memory; he was also accustomed to invite to his house people from the lower classes; he would amuse them while he sketched their faces, making good portraits at times, and again ridiculous caricatures. He even went so far, for the sake of his art, as to accompany criminals to the place of execution, in order to study their expressions.

After a time Leonardo wished to secure some fixed income, and wrote to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, called Il Moro, offering his services to that prince. This resulted in his going to Milan, where he received a generous salary, and became very popular with the Duke and all the court, both as a painter and as a gentleman. The Duke governed as the regent for his young nephew, and gathered about him talented men for the benefit of the young prince. He also led a gay life, and his court was the scene of constant festivities. Leonardo’s varied talents were very useful to the Duke; he could assist him in everything—by advice at his council, by plans for adorning his city, by music and poetry in his leisure hours, and by painting the portraits of his favorites. Some of these last are now famous pictures—that of Lucrezia Crevelli is believed to be in the Louvre at Paris, where it is called “La Belle Ferronière.”

The Duke conferred a great honor on Leonardo by choosing him to be the founder and director of an academy which he had long wished to establish. It was called the “Academia Leonardi Vinci,” and had for its purpose the bringing together of distinguished artists and men of letters. Leonardo was appointed superintendent of all the fêtes and entertainments given by the court, and in this department he did some marvellous things. He also superintended a great work in engineering which he brought to perfection, to the wonder of all Italy: it was no less an undertaking than bringing the waters of the Adda from Mortisana to Milan, a distance of nearly two hundred miles. In spite of all these occupations the artist found time to study anatomy and to write some valuable works. At length Il Moro became the established duke, and at his brilliant court Leonardo led a most agreeable life; but he was so occupied with many things that he painted comparatively few pictures.
The Last Supper Painting By Leonardo da Vinci
Fig. 36.—The Last Supper. By Leonardo da Vinci.
At length the Duke desired him to paint a picture of the Last Supper on the wall of the refectory in the Convent of the Madonna delle Grazie. This was his greatest work in Milan and a wonderful masterpiece. It was commenced about 1496, and was finished in a very short time. We must now judge of it from copies and engravings, for it has been so injured as to give no satisfaction to one who sees it. Some good copies were made before it was thus ruined, and numerous engravings make it familiar to all the world. A copy in the Royal Academy, London, was made by one of Leonardo’s pupils, and is the size of the original. It is said that the prior of the convent complained to the Duke of the length of time the artist was spending upon this picture; when the Duke questioned the painter he said that he was greatly troubled to find a face which pleased him for that of Judas Iscariot; he added that he was willing to allow the prior to sit for this figure and thus hasten the work; this answer pleased the Duke and silenced the prior.

After a time misfortunes overtook the Duke, and Leonardo was reduced to poverty; finally Il Moro was imprisoned; and in 1500 Leonardo returned to Florence, where he was honorably received. He was not happy here, however, for he was not the one important artist. He had been absent nineteen years, and great changes had taken place; Michael Angelo and Raphael were just becoming famous, and they with other artists welcomed Leonardo, for his fame had reached them from Milan. However, he painted some fine pictures at this time; among them were the “Adoration of the Kings,” now in the Uffizi Gallery, and a portrait of Ginevra Benci, also in the same gallery. This lady must have been very beautiful; Ghirlandajo introduced her portrait into two of his frescoes.

But the most remarkable portrait was that known as Mona Lisa del Giocondo, which is in the Louvre, and is called by some critics the finest work of this master. The lady was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, a lovely woman, and some suppose that she was very dear to Leonardo. He worked upon it for four years, and still thought it unfinished: the face has a deep, thoughtful expression—the eyelids are a little weary, perhaps, and through it all there is a suggestion of something not quite understood—a mystery: the hands are graceful and of perfect form, and the rocky background gives an unusual fascination to the whole picture. Leonardo must have loved the picture himself, and it is not strange that he lavished more time upon it than he gave to the great picture of the Last Supper (Fig. 37).

Leonardo sold this picture to Francis I. for nine thousand dollars, which was then an enormous sum, though now one could scarcely fix a price upon it. In 1860 the Emperor of Russia paid twelve thousand dollars for a St. Sebastian by Leonardo, and in 1865 a madonna by him was sold in Paris for about sixteen thousand dollars. Of course his pictures are rarely sold; but, when they are, great sums are given for them.

In 1502 Cæsar Borgia appointed Leonardo his engineer and sent him to travel through Central Italy to inspect his fortresses; but this usurper soon fled to Spain, and in 1503 our painter was again in Florence. In 1504 his father died. From 1507 to 1512 Leonardo was at the summit of his greatness. Louis XII. appointed him his painter, and he labored for this monarch also to improve the water-works of Milan. For seven years he dwelt at Milan, making frequent journeys to Florence. But the political troubles of the time made Lombardy an uncongenial home for any artist, and Leonardo, with a few pupils, went to Florence and then on to Rome. Pope Leo X. received him cordially enough, and told him to “work for the glory of God, Italy, Leo X., and Leonardo da Vinci.” But Leonardo was not happy in Rome, where Michael Angelo and Raphael were in great favor, and when Francis I. made his successes in Italy in 1515, Leonardo hastened to Lombardy to meet him. The new king of France restored him to the office to which Louis XII. had appointed him, and gave him an annual pension of seven hundred gold crowns.
Mona Lisa Painting by Leonardo da Vinci
Fig. 37.—Mona Lisa.—
“La Belle Joconde.”
When Francis returned to France he desired to cut out the wall on which the Last Supper was painted, and carry it to his own country: this proved to be impossible, and it is much to be regretted, as it is probable that if it could have been thus removed it would have been better preserved. However, not being able to take the artist’s great work, the king took Leonardo himself, together with his favorite pupils and friends and his devoted servant. In France, Leonardo was treated with consideration. He resided near Amboise, where he could mingle with the court. It is said that, old though he was, he was so much admired that the courtiers imitated his dress and the cut of his beard and hair. He was given the charge of all artistic matters in France, and doubtless Francis hoped that he would found an Academy as he had done at Milan. But he seems to have left all his energy, all desire for work, on the Italian side of the Alps. He made a few plans; but he brought no great thing to pass, and soon his health failed, and he fell into a decline. He gave great attention to religious matters, received the sacrament, and then made his will, and put his worldly affairs in order.

The king was accustomed to visit him frequently, and on the last day of his life, when the sovereign entered the room, Leonardo desired to be raised up as a matter of respect to the king: sitting, he conversed of his sufferings, and lamented that he had done so little for God and man. Just then he was seized with an attack of pain—the king rose to support him, and thus, in the arms of Francis, the great master breathed his last. This has sometimes been doubted; but the modern French critics agree with the ancient writers who give this account of his end.

He was buried in the Church of St. Florentin at Amboise, and it is not known that any monument was erected over him. In 1808 the church was destroyed; in 1863 Arsine Houssaye, with others, made a search for the grave of Leonardo, and it is believed that his remains were found. In 1873 a noble monument was erected in Milan to the memory of Da Vinci. It is near the entrance to the Arcade of Victor Emmanuel: the statue of the master stands on a high pedestal in a thoughtful attitude, the head bowed down and the arms crossed on the breast. Below are other statues and rich bas-reliefs, and one inscription speaks of him as the “Renewer of the Arts and Sciences.”

Many of his writings are in the libraries of Europe in manuscript form: his best known work is the “Trattato della Pittura,” and has been translated into English. As an engineer his canal of Mortesana was enough to give him fame; as an artist he may be called the “Poet of Painters,” and, if those who followed him surpassed him, it should be remembered that it is easier to advance in a path once opened than to discover a new path. Personally he was much beloved, and, though he lived when morals were at a low estimate, he led a proper and reputable life. His pictures were pure in their spirit, and he seemed only to desire the progress of art and science, and it is a pleasure to read and learn of him, as it is to see his works.

Other good artists of the Lombard school in the fifteenth century were Bernardino Luini (about 1460-1530), who was the best pupil of Leonardo, Giovanni Antonio Beltraffio (1467-1516), Gaudenzio Farrari (1484-1549), Ambrogio Borgognone (works dated about 1500), and Andrea Solario, whose age is not known.
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Bellini and Pietro Perugino Painting

- - Sanny Tendilla

Some good painters worked in Venice from the last half of the fourteenth century; but I shall begin to speak of the Venetian school with some account of the Bellini. The father of this family was Jacopo Bellini (1395-1470), and his sons were Gentile Bellini (1421-1507) and Giovanni Bellini (1426-1516).

The sketch-book of the father is one of the treasures of the British Museum. It has 99 pages, 17 by 13 inches in size, and contains sketches of almost everything—still and animal life, nature, ancient sculpture, buildings and human figures, stories of the Scriptures, of mythology, and of the lives of the saints are all illustrated in its sketches, as well as hawking parties, village scenes, apes, eagles, dogs, and cats. In this book the excellence of his drawing is seen; but so few of his works remain that we cannot judge of him as a colorist. It is certain that he laid the foundation of the excellence of the Venetian school, which his son Giovanni and the great Titian carried to perfection.

The elder son, Gentile, was a good artist, and gained such a reputation by his pictures in the great council-chamber of Venice, that when, in 1479, Sultan Mehemet, the conqueror of Constantinople, sent to Venice for a good painter, the Doge sent to him Gentile Bellini. With him he sent two assistants, and gave him honorable conduct in galleys belonging to the State. In Constantinople Gentile was much honored, and he painted the portraits of many remarkable people. At length it happened that when he had finished a picture of the head of John the Baptist in a charger, and showed it to the Sultan, that ruler said that the neck was not well painted, and when he saw that Gentile did not agree with him he called a slave and had his head instantly struck off, to prove to the artist what would be the true action of the muscles under such circumstances. This act made Gentile unwilling to remain near the Sultan, and after a year in his service he returned home. Mehemet, at parting, gave him many gifts, and begged him to ask for whatever would best please him. Gentile asked but for a letter of praise to the Doge and Signoria of Venice. After his return to Venice he worked much in company with his brother. It is said that Titian studied with Gentile: it is certain that he was always occupied with important commissions, and worked until the day of his death, when he was more than eighty years old.

But Giovanni Bellini was the greatest of his family, and must stand as the founder of true Venetian painting. His works may be divided into two periods, those that were done before, and those after he learned the use of oil colors. His masterpieces, which can still be seen in the Academy and the churches of Venice, were painted after he was sixty-five years old. The works of Giovanni Bellini are numerous in Venice, and are also seen in the principal galleries of Europe. He did not paint a great variety of subjects, neither was his imagination very poetical, but there was a moral beauty in his figures; he seems to have made humanity as elevated as it can be, and to have stopped just on the line which separates earthly excellence from the heavenly. He often painted the single figure of Christ, of which Lübke says: “By grand nobleness of expression, solemn bearing, and an excellent arrangement of the drapery, he reached a dignity which has rarely been surpassed.” Near the close of his life he painted a few subjects which represent gay and festive scenes, and are more youthful in spirit than the works of his earlier years. The two brothers were buried side by side, in the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in Venice.
Fig. 33.—Christ By Gio Bellini Painting
Fig. 33.—Christ.
By Gio. Bellini.

There were also good painters in Padua, Ferrara, and Verona in the fifteenth century.

Andrea Mantegna, of Padua (1430-1506), was a very important artist. He spent the best part of his life in the service of the Duke of Mantua; but his influence was felt in all Italy, for his marriage with the daughter of Jacopo Bellini brought him into relations with many artists. His services were sought by various sovereigns, whose offers he refused until Pope Innocent VIII. summoned him to Rome to paint a chapel in the Vatican. After two years there he returned to Mantua, where he died. His pictures are in all large collections; his finest works are madonnas at the Louvre, Paris, and in the Church of St. Zeno at Verona. Mantegna was a fine engraver also, and his plates are now very valuable.

In the Umbrian school Pietro Perugino (1446-1524) was a notable painter; he was important on account of his own work, and because he was the master of the great Raphael. His pictures were simple and devout in their spirit, and brilliant in color; in fact, he is considered as the founder of the style which Raphael perfected. His works are in the principal galleries of Europe, and he had many followers of whom we have not space to speak.

Francisco Francia (1450-1518) was the founder of the school of Bologna. His true name was Francisco di Marco Raibolini, and he was a goldsmith of repute before he was a painter. He was also master of the mint to the Bentivoglio and to Pope Julius II. at Bologna. It is not possible to say when he began to paint; but his earliest known work is dated 1490 or 1494, and is in the Gallery of Bologna. His pictures resemble those of Perugino and Raphael, and it is said that he died of sorrow because he felt himself so inferior to the great painter of Urbino. Raphael sent his St. Cecilia to Francia, and asked him to care for it and see it hung in its place; he did so, but did not live long after this. It is well known that these two masters were good friends and corresponded, but it is not certain that they ever met. Francia’s pictures are numerous; his portraits are excellent. Many of his works are still in Bologna.
Madonna By Perugino
Fig. 34.—Madonna. By Perugino
In the Pitti Gallery, Florence
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- - Sanny Tendilla


The reawakening of Art in Italy which followed the darkness of the Middle Ages, dates from about the beginning of the fifteenth century and is called the Renaissance. The Italians have a method of reckoning the centuries which differs from ours. Thus we call 1800 the first year of the nineteenth century, but they call it the first of the eighteenth; so the painters of what was to us the fifteenth century are called by Italians the “quattrocentisti,” or men of the fourteenth century, and while to us the term “cinquecento” means the style of the sixteenth century, to the Italians the same century, which begins with 1500, is the fifteenth century.

I shall use our own method of reckoning in my writing; but this fact should be known to all who read or study art.

The first painter of whom I shall now speak is known to us as Fra Angelico. His name was Guido, the son of Pietro, and he was born at Vicchio in the province of Mugello, in the year 1387. We know that his family was in such circumstances that the young Guido could have led a life of ease; but he early determined to become a preaching friar. Meantime, even as a boy, he showed his taste for art, and there are six years in his life, from the age of fourteen to twenty, of which no one can tell the story. However, from what followed it is plain that during this time he must somewhere have devoted himself to the study of painting and to preparation for his life as a monk.

Before he was fully twenty years old, he entered the convent at Fiesole, and took the name of Fra, or Brother Giovanni; soon after, his elder brother joined him there, and became Fra Benedetto. Later on our artist was called Fra Angelico, and again Il Beato Angelico, and then, according to Italian custom, the name of the town from which he came was added, so that he was at last called Il Beato Giovanni, detto Angelico, da Fiesole, which means, “The Blessed John, called the Angelic, of Fiesole.” The title Il Beato is usually conferred by the church, but it was given to Fra Angelico by the people, because of his saintly character and works.

It was in 1407 that Fra Angelico was admitted to the convent in Fiesole, and after seven years of peaceful life there he was obliged to flee with his companions to Foligno. It was at the time when three different popes claimed the authority over the Church of Rome, and the city of Florence declared itself in favor of Alexander V.; but the monks of Fiesole adhered to Gregory XII., and for this reason were driven from their convent. Six years they dwelt at Foligno; then the plague broke out in the country about them, and again they fled to Cortona. Pictures painted by Fra Angelico at this time still remain in the churches of Cortona.

After an absence of ten years the monks returned to Fiesole, where our artist passed the next eighteen years. This was the richest period of his life: his energy was untiring, and his zeal both as an artist and as a priest burned with a steady fire. His works were sought for far and wide, and most of his easel-pictures were painted during this time. Fra Angelico would never accept the money which was paid for his work; it was given into the treasury of his convent; neither did he accept any commission without the consent of the prior. Naturally, the monk-artist executed works for the adornment of his own convent. Some of these have been sold and carried to other cities and countries, and those which remain have been too much injured and too much restored to be considered important now.
Fra Angelico Painting
Fig. 31.—Fra Angelico. From the representation of him in the fresco of the “Last Judgment,” by Fra Bartolommeo, in Santa Maria Nuova, Florence.

He painted so many pictures during this second residence at Fiesole, not only for public places, but for private citizens, that Vasari wrote: “This Father painted so many pictures, which are dispersed through the houses of the Florentines, that sometimes I am lost in wonder when I think how works so good and so many could, though in the course of many years, have been brought to perfection by one man alone.”

In 1436 the great Cosimo de Medici insisted that the monks of Fiesole should again leave their convent, and remove to that of San Marco, in Florence. Most unwillingly the brethren submitted, and immediately Cosimo set architects and builders to work to erect a new convent, for the old one was in a ruinous state. The new cloisters offered a noble field to the genius of Fra Angelico, and he labored for their decoration with his whole soul; though the rule of the order was so strict that the pictures in the cells could be seen only by the monks, he put all his skill into them, and labored as devotedly as if the whole world could see and praise them, as indeed has since been done. His pictures in this convent are so numerous that we must not describe them, but will say that the Crucifixion in the chapter-room is usually called his masterpiece. It is nearly twenty-five feet square, and, besides the usual figures in this subject, the Saviour and the thieves, with the executioners, there are holy women, the founders of various orders, the patrons of the convent, and companies of saints. In the frame there are medallions with several saints and a Sibyl, each bearing an inscription from the prophecies relating to Christ’s death; while below all, St. Dominic, the founder of the artist’s order, bears a genealogical tree with many portraits of those who had been eminent among his followers. For this reason this picture has great historic value.

At last, in 1445, Pope Eugenius IV., who had dedicated the new convent of San Marco and seen the works of Angelico, summoned him to Rome. It is said that the Pope not only wished for some of his paintings, but he also desired to honor Angelico by giving him the archbishopric of Florence; but when this high position was offered him, Fra Angelico would not accept of it: he declared himself unequal to its duties, and begged the Pope to appoint Fra Antonino in his stead. This request was granted, and Angelico went on with his work as before, in all humility fulfilling his heaven-born mission to lead men to better lives through the sweet influence of his divine art.

The honor which had been tendered him was great—one which the noblest men were striving for—but if he realized this he did not regret his decision, neither was he made bold or vain by the royal tribute which the Pope had paid him.

From this time the most important works of Fra Angelico were done in the chapel of Pope Nicholas V., in the Vatican, and in the chapel which he decorated in the Cathedral of Orvieto. He worked there one summer, and the work was continued by Luca Signorelli. The remainder of his life was passed so quietly that little can be told of it. It is not even known with certainty whether he ever returned to Florence, and by some strange fate the key to the chapel which he painted in the Vatican was lost during two centuries, and the pictures could only be seen by entering through a window. Thus it would seem that his last years were passed in the quiet work which he best loved.
An Angel Painting
Fig. 32.—An Angel.
In the Uffizi, Florence.
By Fra Angelico.

When his final illness was upon him, the brethren of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where he resided, gathered about him, and chanted the Salve Regina. He died on the 18th of February, 1455, when sixty-seven years old. His tombstone is in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, in Rome; on it lies the figure of a Dominican monk in marble. Pope Nicholas V. wrote his epitaph in Latin. The following translation is by Professor Norton:

“Not mine be the praise that I was a second Apelles,
But that I gave all my gains to thine, O Christ!
One work is for the earth, another for heaven.
The city, the Flower of Tuscany, bore me—John.”

In the Convent of San Marco in Florence there are twenty-five pictures by this master; in the Academy of Florence there are about sixty; there are eleven in the chapel of Nicholas V., and still others in the Vatican gallery. The Church of Santa Maria Novella, Florence, the Cathedral of Orvieto, the Church of St. Domenico in Perugia, and that of Cortona, are all rich in his works. Besides these a few exist in some of the principal European galleries; but I love best to see them in San Marco, where he painted them for his brethren, and where they seem most at home.

The chief merit of the pictures of Fra Angelico is the sweet and tender expression of the faces of his angels and saints, or any beings who are holy and good; he never succeeded in painting evil and sin in such a way as to terrify one; his gentle nature did not permit him to represent that which it could not comprehend, and the very spirit of purity seems to breathe through every picture.

Two other Florentine artists of the same era with Fra Angelico were Masolino, whose real name was Panicale, and Tommaso Guidi, called Masaccio on account of his want of neatness. The style of these two masters was much the same, but Masaccio became so much the greater that little is said of Masolino. The principal works of Masaccio are a series of frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in Florence. They represent “The Expulsion from Paradise,” “The Tribute Money,” “Peter Baptizing,” “Peter Curing the Blind and Lame,” “The Death of Ananias,” “Simon Magus,” and the “Resuscitation of the King’s Son.” There is a fresco by Masolino in the same chapel; it is “The Preaching of Peter.” Masaccio was in fact a remarkable painter. Some one has said that he seemed to hold Giotto by one hand, and reach forward to Raphael with the other; and considering the pictures which were painted before his time, his works are as wonderful as Raphael’s are beautiful. He died in 1429.

Paolo Uccello (1396-1479) and Filippo Lippi (1412-1469) were also good painters, and Sandro Botticelli (1447-1515), a pupil of Filippo, was called the best Florentine painter of his time. Fillipino Lippi (1460-1505) was a pupil of Botticelli and a very important artist. Andrea Verrocchio, Lorenzo di Credi, and Antonio Pollajuolo were all good painters of the Florentine school of the last half of the fifteenth century.

Of the same period was Domenico Ghirlandajo (1449-1494), who ranks very high on account of his skill in the composition of his works and as a colorist. He made his pictures very interesting also to those of his own time, and to those of later days, by introducing portraits of certain citizens of Florence into pictures which he painted in the Church of Santa Maria Novella and other public places in the city. He did not usually make them actors in the scene he represented, but placed them in detached groups as if they were looking at the picture themselves. While his scenes were laid in the streets known to us, and his architecture was familiar, he did not run into the fantastic or lose the picturesque effect which is always pleasing. Without being one of the greatest of the Italian masters Ghirlandajo was a very important painter. He was also a teacher of the great Michael Angelo.

Other prominent Florentine painters of the close of the fifteenth century were Francisco Granacci (1477-1543), Luca Signorelli (1441-1521), Benozzo Gozzoli (1424-1485), and Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1506).
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The Final or Gothic Period - Painting

- - Sanny Tendilla


The Gothic order of architecture, which was perfected during this period, had a decided influence upon the painting and sculpture of the time; but this influence was not felt until Gothic architecture had reached a high point in its development. France was now the leading country of the world, and Paris came to be the most important of all cities: it was the centre from which went forth edicts as to the customs of society, the laws of dress and conduct, and even of the art of love. From France came the codes of chivalry, and the crusades, which spread to other lands, originated there. Thus, for the time, Paris overshadowed Rome and the older centres of art, industry, and science, with a world-wide influence.
Figure of Henry I The Final or Gothic Period - Painting
Fig. 23.—Figure of Henry I. in West Window of Strasbourg Cathedral.

Although the painting of this period had largely the same characteristics as that of the Romanesque period, it had a different spirit, and it was no longer under the control of the clergy. Before this time, too, painters had frequently been skilled in other arts; now it became the custom for them to be painters only, and besides this they were divided into certain classes of painters, and were then associated with other craftsmen who were engaged in the trade which was connected with their art. That is, the glass-painters painted glass only, and were associated with the glass-blowers; those who decorated shields, with the shield or scutcheon makers, and so on; while the painters, pure and simple, worked at wall-painting, and a little later at panel-painting also. From this association of artists and tradesmen there grew up brotherhoods which supported their members in all difficulties, and stood by each other like friends. Each brotherhood had its altar in some church; they had their funerals and festivals in common, and from these brotherhoods grew up the more powerful societies which were called guilds. These guilds became powerful organizations; they had definite rights and duties, and even judicial authority as to such matters as belonged to their special trades.

All this led to much greater individuality among artists than had ever existed before: it came to be understood that a painter could, and had a right to, paint a picture as he wished, and was not governed by any priestly law. Religious subjects were still painted more frequently than others, and the decoration of religious edifices was the chief employment of the artists; but they worked with more independence of thought and spirit. The painters studied more from nature, and though the change was very slow, it is still true that a certain softness of effect, an easy flow of drapery, and a new grace of pose did appear, and about a.d. 1350 a new idea of the uses and aims of painting influenced artists everywhere.
Fig. 24.—Birth of the Virgin. From the Grandes Heures of the Duc de Berri.

About that time they attempted to represent distances, and to create different planes in their works; to reproduce such things as they represented far more exactly than they had done before, and to put them in just relations to surrounding places and objects; in a word, they seemed to awake to an appreciation of the true office of painting and to its infinite possibilities.

During this Gothic period some of the most exquisite manuscripts were made in France and Germany, and they are now the choicest treasures of their kind in various European collections.

Fig. 24, of the birth of the Virgin Mary, is from one of the most splendid books of the time which was painted for the Duke de Berry and called the Great Book of the Hours. The wealth of ornament in the border is a characteristic of the French miniatures of the time. The Germans used a simpler style, as you will see by Fig. 25, of the Annunciation.

The influence of the Gothic order of architecture upon glass-painting was very pronounced. Under this order the windows became much more important than they had been, and it was not unusual to see a series of windows painted in such pictures as illustrated the whole teaching of the doctrines of the church. It was at this time that the custom arose of donating memorial windows to religious edifices. Sometimes they were the gift of a person or a family, and the portraits of the donors were painted in the lower part of the window, and usually in a kneeling posture; at other times windows were given by guilds, and it is very odd to see craftsmen of various sorts at work in a cathedral window: such pictures exist at Chartres, Bourges, Amiens, and other places.
Fig. 25.—The Annunciation. From the Mariale of Archbishop Arnestus of Prague.

About a.d. 1300 it began to be the custom to represent architectural effects upon colored windows. Our cut is from a window at Konigsfelden, and will show exactly what I mean (Fig. 26).

This style of decoration was not as effective as the earlier ones had been, and, indeed, from about this time glass-painting became less satisfactory than before, from the fact that it had more resemblance to panel-painting, and so lost a part of the individuality which had belonged to it.
Fig. 26.—Painted Window at Konigsfelden.

Wall-paintings were rare in the Gothic period, for its architecture left no good spaces where the pictures could be placed, and so the interior painting of the churches was almost entirely confined to borders and decorative patterns scattered here and there and used with great effect. In Germany and England wall-painting was more used for the decoration of castles, halls, chambers, and chapels; but as a whole mural painting was of little importance at this time in comparison with its earlier days.

About a.d. 1350 panel pictures began to be more numerous, and from this time there are vague accounts of schools of painting at Prague and Cologne, and a few remnants exist which prove that such works were executed in France and Flanders; but I shall pass over what is often called the Transitional Period, by which we mean the time in which new influences were beginning to act, and hereafter I will tell our story by giving accounts of the lives of separate painters; for from about the middle of the thirteenth century it is possible to trace the history of painting through the study of individual artists.
Fig. 27.—Portrait of Cimabue.

Giovanni Cimabue, the first painter of whom I shall tell you, was born in Florence in 1240. He is sometimes called the “Father of Modern Painting,” because he was the first who restored that art to any degree of the beauty to which it had attained before the Dark Ages. The Cimabui were a noble family, and Giovanni was allowed to follow his own taste, and became a painter; he was also skilled in mosaic work, and during the last years of his life held the office of master of the mosaic workers in the Cathedral of Pisa, where some of his own mosaics still remain.

Of his wall-paintings I shall say nothing except to tell you that the finest are in the Upper Church at Assisi, where one sees the first step in the development of the art of Tuscany. But I wish to tell the story of one of his panel pictures, which is very interesting. It is now in the Rucellai Chapel of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, in Florence, and it is only just in me to say that if one of my readers walked through that church and did not know about this picture, it is doubtful if he would stop to look at it—certainly he would not admire it. The story is that when Cimabue was about thirty years old he was busy in painting this picture of the Madonna Enthroned, and he would not allow any one to see what he was doing.

It happened, however, that Charles of Anjou, being on his way to Naples, stopped in Florence, where the nobles did everything in their power for his entertainment. Among other places they took him to the studio of Cimabue, who uncovered his picture for the first time. Many persons then flocked to see it, and were so loud in their joyful expressions of admiration for it that the part of the city in which the studio was has since been called the Borgo Allegri, or the “joyous quarter.”

When the picture was completed the day was celebrated as a festival; a procession was formed; bands of music played joyful airs; the magistrates of Florence honored the occasion with their presence; and the picture was borne in triumph to the church. Cimabue must have been very happy at this great appreciation of his art, and from that time he was famous in all Italy.
Fig. 28.—The Madonna of the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

Another madonna by this master is in the Academy of Florence, and one attributed to him is in the Louvre, in Paris.

Cimabue died about 1302, and was buried in the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Cathedral of Florence. Above his tomb these words were inscribed: “Cimabue thought himself master of the field of painting. While living, he was so. Now he holds his place among the stars of heaven.”

Other artists who were important in this early time of the revival of painting were Andrea Tafi, a mosaist of Florence, Margaritone of Arezzo, Guido of Siena, and of the same city Duccio, the son of Buoninsegna. This last painter flourished from 1282 to 1320; his altar-piece for the Cathedral of Siena was also carried to its place in solemn procession, with the sound of trumpet, drum, and bell.

Giotto di Bondone was the next artist in whom we have an unusual interest. He was born at Del Colle, in the commune of Vespignano, probably about 1266, though the date is usually given ten years later. One of the best reasons for calling Cimabue the “Father of Painting” is that he acted the part of a father to Giotto, who proved to be so great an artist that from his time painting made a rapid advance. The story is that one day when Cimabue rode in the valley of Vespignano he saw a shepherd-boy who was drawing a portrait of one of his sheep on a flat rock, by means of a pointed bit of slate for a pencil. The sketch was so good that Cimabue offered to take the boy to Florence, and teach him to paint. The boy’s father consented, and henceforth the little Giotto lived with Cimabue, who instructed him in painting, and put him to study letters under Brunetto Latini, who was also the teacher of the great poet, Dante.
Fig. 29.—Portrait of Dante,
painted by Giotto.

The picture which we give here is from the earliest work by Giotto of which we have any knowledge. In it were the portraits of Dante, Latini, and several others. This picture was painted on a wall of the Podestà at Florence, and when Dante was exiled from that city his portrait was covered with whitewash; in 1841 it was restored to the light, having been hidden for centuries. It is a precious memento of the friendship between the great artist and the divine poet, who expressed his admiration of Giotto in these lines:—

“In painting Cimabue fain had thought
To lord the field; now Giotto has the cry,
So that the other’s fame in shade is brought.”

Giotto did much work in Florence; he also, about 1300, executed frescoes in the Lower Church at Assisi; from 1303-1306 he painted his beautiful pictures in the Cappella dell’ Arena, at Padua, by which the genius of Giotto is now most fully shown. He worked at Rimini also, and about 1330 was employed by King Robert of Naples, who conferred many honors upon him, and made him a member of his own household. In 1334 Giotto was made the chief master of the cathedral works in Florence, as well as of the city fortifications and all architectural undertakings by the city authorities. He held this high position but three years, as he died on January 8, 1337.

Giotto was also a great architect, as is well known from his tower in Florence, for which he made all the designs and a part of the working models, while some of the sculptures and reliefs upon it prove that he was skilled in modelling and carving. He worked in mosaics also, and the famous “Navicella,” in the vestibule of St. Peter’s at Rome, was originally made by him, but has now been so much restored that it is doubtful if any part of what remains was done by Giotto’s hands.
Fig. 30.—Giotto’s Campanile and the Duomo. Florence.

The works of Giotto are too numerous to be mentioned here, and his merits as an artist too important to be discussed in our limits; but his advance in painting was so great that he deserved the great compliment of Cennino, who said that Giotto “had done or translated the art of painting from Greek into Latin.”

I shall, however, tell you of one excellent thing that he did, which was to make the representation of the crucifix far more refined and Christ-like than it had ever been. Before his time every effort had been made to picture physical agony alone. Giotto gave a gentle face, full of suffering, it is true, but also expressive of tenderness and resignation, and it would not be easy to paint a better crucifix than those of this master.

In person Giotto was so ugly that his admirers made jokes about it; but he was witty and attractive in conversation, and so modest that his friends were always glad to praise him while he lived, and since his death his fame has been cherished by all who have written of him. There are many anecdotes told of Giotto. One is that on a very hot day in Naples, King Robert said to the painter, “Giotto, if I were you, I would leave work, and rest.” Giotto quickly replied, “So would I, sire, if I were you.”

When the same king asked him to paint a picture which would represent his kingdom, Giotto drew an ass bearing a saddle on which were a crown and sceptre, while at the feet of the ass there was a new saddle with a shining new crown and sceptre, at which the ass was eagerly smelling. By this he intended to show that the Neapolitans were so fickle that they were always looking for a new king.

There is a story which has been often repeated which says, that in order to paint his crucifixes so well, he persuaded a man to be bound to a cross for an hour as a model; and when he had him there he stabbed him, in order to see such agony as he wished to paint. When the Pope saw the picture he was so pleased with it that he wished to have it for his own chapel; then Giotto confessed what he had done, and showed the body of the dead man. The Pope was so angry that he threatened the painter with the same death, upon which Giotto brushed the picture over so that it seemed to be destroyed. Then the Pope so regretted the loss of the crucifix that he promised to pardon Giotto if he would paint him another as good. Giotto exacted the promise in writing, and then, with a wet sponge, removed the wash he had used, and the picture was as good as before. According to tradition all famous crucifixes were drawn from this picture ever after.

When Boniface VIII. sent a messenger to invite Giotto to Rome, the messenger asked Giotto to show him something of the art which had made him so famous. Giotto, with a pencil, by a single motion drew so perfect a circle that it was thought to be a miracle, and this gave rise to a proverb still much used in Italy:—Piu tondo che l’O di Giotto, or, “Rounder than the O of Giotto.”

Giotto had a wife and eight children, of whom nothing is known but that his son Francesco became a painter. Giotto died in 1337, and was buried with great honors in the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore. Lorenzo de Medici erected a monument to his memory. The pupils and followers of Giotto were very numerous, and were called Giotteschi; among these Taddeo Gaddi, and his son Agnolo, are most famous: others were Maso and Bernardo di Daddo; but I shall not speak in detail of these artists.

While Giotto was making the art of Florence famous, there was an artist in Siena who raised the school of that city to a place of great honor. This was Simone Martini, who lived from 1283 to 1344, and is often called Simone Memmi because he married a sister of another painter, Lippo Memmi. The most important works of Simone which remain are at Siena in the Palazzo Pubblico and in the Lower Church at Assisi. There is one beautiful work of his in the Royal Institution, at Liverpool, which illustrates the text, “Behold, thy father and I have sought Thee, sorrowing.”

While the Papal court was at Avignon, in 1338, Simone removed to that city. Here he became the friend of Petrarch and of Laura, and has been praised by this poet as Giotto was by Dante.

Another eminent Florentine artist was Andrea Orcagna, as he is called, though his real name was Andrea Arcagnuolo di Cione. He was born about 1329, and died about 1368. It has long been the custom to attribute to Orcagna some of the most important frescoes in the Campo Santo at Pisa; but it is so doubtful whether he worked there that I shall not speak of them. His father was a goldsmith, and Orcagna first studied his father’s craft; he was also an architect, sculptor, mosaist, and poet, as well as a painter. He made an advance in color and in the painting of atmosphere that gives him high rank as a painter; as a sculptor, his tabernacle in the Church of Or San Michele speaks his praise. Mr. C. C. Perkins thus describes it: “Built of white marble in the Gothic style, enriched with every kind of ornament, and storied with bas-reliefs illustrative of the Madonna’s history from her birth to her death, it rises in stately beauty toward the roof of the church, and, whether considered from an architectural, sculptural, or symbolic point of view, must excite the warmest admiration in all who can appreciate the perfect unity of conception through which its bas-reliefs, statuettes, busts, intaglios, mosaics, and incrustations of pietre dure, gilded glass, and enamels are welded into a unique whole.”

But perhaps it is as an architect that Orcagna is most interesting to us, for he it was who made the designs for the Loggia de Lanzi in Florence. This was built as a place for public assembly, and the discussion of the topics of the day in rainy weather; it received its name on account of its nearness to the German guard-house which was called that of the Landsknechts (in German), or Lanzi, as it was given in Italian. Orcagna probably died before the Loggia was completed, and his brother Bernardo succeeded him as architect of the commune. This Loggia is one of the most interesting places in Florence, fully in sight of the Palazzo Signoria, near the gallery of the Uffizi, and itself the storehouse of precious works of sculpture.

There were also in these early days of the fourteenth century schools of art at Bologna and Modena; but we know so little of them in detail that I shall not attempt to give any account of them here, but will pass to the early artists who may be said to belong to the true Renaissance in Italy.
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During the Romanesque Period (950-1250) architecture was pursued according to laws which had grown out of the achievements and experiences of earlier ages, and had reached such a perfection as entitled it to the rank of a noble art. But this was not true of painting, which was then but little more than the painting of the Egyptians had been, that is, a sort of picture-writing, which was principally used to illustrate the doctrines of religion, and by this means to teach them to peoples who had no books, and could not have read them had they existed.

During all this time the art of painting was largely under the control of the priests. Some artists were priests themselves, and those who were not were under the direction of some church dignitary. Popes, bishops, abbots, and so on, were the principal patrons of art, and they suggested to the artists the subjects to be painted, and then the pictures were used for the decoration of churches and other buildings used by the religious orders. The monks were largely occupied in miniature-painting; artists frequented the monasteries, and, indeed, when they were engaged upon religious subjects, they were frequently under the same discipline as that of the monks themselves.

Next to the influence of the church came that of the court; but in a way it was much the same, for the clergy had great influence at court, and, although painting was used to serve the luxury of sovereigns and nobles, it was also true that these high personages often employed artists to decorate chapels and to paint altar-pieces for churches at their expense, for during the Romanesque period there was some painting on panels. At first these panel-pictures were placed on the front of the altar where draperies had formerly been used: later they were raised above the altar, and also put in various parts of the church. The painting of the Romanesque period was merely a decline, and there can be little more said of it than is told by that one word.

Glass-painting dates from this time. The very earliest specimens of which we know are from the eleventh century. Before that time there had been transparent mosaics made by putting together bits of colored glass, and arranging them in simple, set and ornamental patterns. Such mosaics date from the earliest days of Christianity, and were in use as soon as glass was used for windows. From ancient writings we know that some windows were made with pictures upon them as long ago as a.d. 989; but nothing now remains from that remote date.

There is a doubt as to whether glass-painting originated in France or Germany. Some French authors ascribe its invention to Germany, while some German writers accord the same honor to France. Remains of glass-painting of the eleventh century have been found in both these countries; but it is probable that five windows in the Cathedral of Augsburg date from 1065, and are a little older than any others of which we know. This picture of David is from one of them, and is probably as old as any painted window in existence.
Fig. 21.—King David. From a window in Augsburg Cathedral.

The oldest glass-painting in France is probably a single fragment in the Cathedral of Le Mans. This cathedral was completed in 1093, but was badly burned in 1136, so that but a single piece of its windows remains; this has been inserted in a new window in the choir, and is thus preserved. With the beginning of the twelfth century, glass-painting became more frequent in Europe, and near the end of this century it was introduced into England, together with the Gothic style of architecture. Very soon a highly decorative effect was given to glass-painting, and the designs upon many windows were very much like those used in the miniatures of the same time. The stained glass in the Cathedral of St. Denis, near Paris, is very important. It dates from about 1140-1151, and was executed under the care of the famous Abbot Suger. He employed both French and German workmen, and decorated the entire length of the walls with painted windows. St. Denis was the first French cathedral in the full Gothic style of architecture. The present windows in St. Denis can scarcely be said to be the original ones, as the cathedral has suffered much from revolutions; but some of them have been restored as nearly as possible, and our illustration (Fig. 22) will give you a good idea of what its windows were.

Fig. 22.—Window. From the Cathedral of St. Denis.

The stripes which run across the ground in this window are red and blue, and the leaf border is in a light tone of color. There are nine medallions; the three upper ones have simply ornamental designs upon them, and the six lower ones have pictures of sacred subjects. The one given here is an Annunciation, in which the Abbot Suger kneels at the feet of the Virgin Mary. His figure interferes with the border of the medallion in a very unusual manner.

Perhaps the most important ancient glass-painting remaining in France is that of the west front of the Cathedral of Chartres. It dates from about 1125, when this front was begun; there are three windows, and their color is far superior to the glass of a later period, which is in the same cathedral. The earliest painted glass in England dates from about 1180. Some of the windows in Canterbury Cathedral correspond to those in the Cathedral of St. Denis.

In the Strasbourg Cathedral there are some splendid remains of painted glass of the Romanesque period, although they were much injured by the bombardment of 1870. Fig. 23 is from one of the west windows, and represents King Henry I.

This is an unusually fine example of the style of the period before the more elaborate Gothic manner had arisen; the quiet regularity of the drapery and the dignified air of the whole figure is very impressive.

An entirely different sort of colored windows was used in the churches and edifices which belonged to the Cistercian order of monks. The rule of this order was severe, and while they wished to soften the light within their churches, they believed it to be wrong to use anything which denoted pomp or splendor in the decoration of the house of God. For these reasons they invented what is called the grisaille glass: it is painted in regular patterns in gray tones of color. Sometimes these windows are varied by a leaf pattern in shades of green and brown, with occasional touches of bright color; but this is used very sparingly. Some of these grisaille windows are seen in France; but the finest are in Germany in the Cathedral of Heiligenkreuz: they date from the first half of the thirteenth century.
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The Mosaics of the Middle Ages

- - Sanny Tendilla

The mosaics of the Middle Ages were of a purely ornamental character down to the time of Constantine. Then, when the protection of a Christian emperor enabled the Christians to express themselves without fear, the doctrines of the church and the stories of the life of Christ and the histories of the saints, as well as many other instructive religious subjects, were made in mosaics, and placed in prominent places in churches and basilicas. Mosaics are very durable, and many belonging to the early Christian era still remain.

The mosaics at Ravenna form the most connected series, and are the best preserved of those that still exist. While it is true in a certain sense that Rome was always the art centre of Italy, it is also true that at Ravenna the works of art have not suffered from devastation and restoration as have those of Rome. After the invasion of the Visigoths in A.D. 404, Honorius transferred the imperial court to Ravenna, and that city then became distinguished for its learning and art. The Ravenna mosaics are so numerous that I shall only speak of one series, from which I give an illustration (Fig. 19).

This mosaic is in the church of S. Vitalis, which was built between a.d. 526 and 547. In the dome of the church there is a grand representation of Christ enthroned; below Him are the sacred rivers of Paradise; near Him are two angels and S. Vitalis, to whom the Saviour is presenting a crown; Bishop Ecclesius, the founder of the church, is also represented near by with a model of the church in his hand.

On a lower wall there are two pictures in which the Emperor Justinian and the Empress Theodosia are represented: our cut is from one of these, and shows the emperor and empress in magnificent costumes, each followed by a train of attendants. This emperor never visited Ravenna; but he sent such rich gifts to this church that he and his wife are represented as its donors.
Fig. 19.—Justinian, Theodora, and Attendants
From a mosaic picture at S. Vitalis, Ravenna

After the time of Justinian (a.d. 527-565) mosaics began to be less artistic, and those of the later time degenerated, as did everything else during the Middle or Dark Ages, and at last all works of art show less and less of the Greek or Classic influence.

When we use the word miniature as an art term, it does not mean simply a small picture as it does in ordinary conversation; it means the pictures executed by the hand of an illuminator or miniator of manuscripts, and he is so called from the minium or cinnabar which he used in making colors.

In the days of antiquity, as I have told you in speaking of Egypt, it was customary to illustrate manuscripts, and during the Middle Ages this art was very extensively practised. Many monks spent their whole lives in illuminating religious books, and in Constantinople and other eastern cities this art reached a high degree of perfection. Some manuscripts have simple borders and colored initial letters only; sometimes but a single color is used, and is generally red, from which comes our word rubric, which means any writing or printing in red ink, and is derived from the Latin rubrum, or red. This was the origin of illumination or miniature-painting, which went on from one step to another until, at its highest state, most beautiful pictures were painted in manuscripts in which rich colors were used on gold or silver backgrounds, and the effect of the whole was as rich and ornamental as it is possible to imagine.

Many of these old manuscripts are seen in museums, libraries, and various collections; they are very precious and costly, as well as interesting; their study is fascinating, for almost every one of the numberless designs that are used in them has its own symbolic meaning. The most ancient, artistic miniatures of which we know are those on a manuscript of a part of the book of Genesis; it is in the Imperial Library at Vienna, and was made at the end of the fifth century. In the same collection there is a very extraordinary manuscript, from which I give an illustration.

This manuscript is a treatise on botany, and was written by Dioskorides for his pupil, the Princess Juliana Anicia, a granddaughter of the Emperor Valentine III. As this princess died at Constantinople a.d. 527, this manuscript dates from the beginning of the sixth century. This picture from it represents Dioskorides dressed in white robes and seated in a chair of gold; before him stands a woman in a gold tunic and scarlet mantle, who represents the genius of discovery; she presents the legendary mandrake root, or mandragora, to the learned man, while between them is the dog that has pulled the root, and falls dead, according to the fabulous story. This manuscript was painted by a masterly hand, and is curious and interesting; the plants, snakes, birds, and insects must have been painted from nature, and the whole is most skilfully done.

Fig. 20.—The Discovery of the Herb Mandragora
From a MS. of Dioskorides, at Vienna

During the Middle Ages the arts as practised in Rome were carried into all the different countries in which the Romans made conquests or sent their monks and missionaries to establish churches, convents, and schools. Thus the mediæval arts were practised in Gaul, Spain, Germany, and Great Britain. No wall-paintings or mosaics remain from the early German or Celtic peoples; but their illuminated manuscripts are very numerous: miniature-painting was extensively done in Ireland, and many Irish manuscripts remain in the collections of Great Britain.

When Charlemagne became the king of the Franks in 768, there was little knowledge of any art among his northern subjects; in 800 he made himself emperor of the Romans, also, and when the Franks saw all the splendor of Rome and other parts of Italy, it was not difficult for the great emperor to introduce the arts into the Frankish portion of his empire. All sorts of beautiful objects were carried from Italy by the Franks, and great workshops were established at Aix-la-Chapelle, the capital, and were placed under the care of Eginhard, who was skilled in bronze-casting, modelling, and other arts; he was called Bezaleel, after the builder of the Tabernacle. We have many accounts of the wall-paintings and mosaics of the Franks; but there are no remains of them that can be identified with positive accuracy.

Miniature-painting flourished under the rule of Charlemagne and his family, and reached a point of great magnificence in effect, though it was never as artistic as the work of the Italian miniators; and, indeed, gradually everything connected with art was declining in all parts of the world; and as we study its history, we can understand why the terms Dark Ages and Middle Ages are used to denote the same epoch, remarkable as it is for the decay and extinction of so many beautiful things.
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THE EARLY PERIOD - The Paintings of the Catacombs

- - Sanny Tendilla

The paintings of the catacombs date from the third and fourth centuries after Christ. The catacombs, or burial-places of the early Christians, consist of long, narrow, subterranean passages, cut with regularity, and crossing each other like streets in a city. The graves are in the sides of these passages, and there are some larger rooms or chambers into which the narrow passages run. There are about sixty of the catacombs in and near Rome; they are generally called by the name of some saint who is buried in them. The paintings are in the chambers, of which there are sometimes several quite near each other. The reason for their being in these underground places was that Christians were so persecuted under the Romans, that they were obliged to do secretly all that they did as Christians, so that no attention should be attracted to them.

The principal characteristics of these pictures are a simple majesty and earnestness of effect; perhaps spirituality is the word to use, for by these paintings the early Christians desired to express their belief in the religion of Christ, and especially in the immortality of the soul, which was a very precious doctrine to them. The catacombs of Rome were more numerous and important than those of any other city.

Many of the paintings in the catacombs had a symbolic meaning, beyond the plainer intention which appeared at the first sight of them: you will know what I mean when I say that not only was this picture of Moses striking the rock intended to represent an historical fact in the life of Moses, but the flowing water was also regarded as a type of the blessing of Christian baptism.
Fig. 17.—Moses. From a painting in the Catacomb of S. Agnes.

Fig. 18.—decoration of a Roof.
Catacomb of S. Domitilla.

The walls of the chambers of the catacombs are laid out in such a manner as to have the effect of decorated apartments, just as was done in the pagan tombs, and sometimes the pictures were a strange union of pagan and Christian devices.

The above cut, from the Catacomb of S. Domitilla, has in the centre the pagan god Orpheus playing his lyre, while in the alternate compartments of the border are the following Christian subjects: 1, David with the Sling; 2, Moses Striking the Rock; 3, Daniel in the Lion’s Den; 4, The Raising of Lazarus. The other small divisions have pictures of sacrificial animals. These two cuts will give you an idea of the catacomb wall-paintings.
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Vase-painting was another art very much practiced by the ancients. So much can be said of it that it would require more space than we can give for its history even in outline. So I shall only say that it fills an important place in historic art, because from the thousands of ancient vases that have been found in one country and another, much has been learned concerning the history of these lands and the manners and customs of their people; occasionally inscriptions are found upon decorated vases which are of great value to scholars who study the history of the past.
Fig. 14.—Niobe
From a picture on a slab of granite at Pompeii.

Fig. 15.—The Dodwell Vase
At Munich.

The Dodwell vase shows you the more simple style of decoration which was used in the earlier times. Gradually the designs came to be more and more elaborate, until whole stories were as distinctly told by the pictures on vases as if they had been written out in books. The next cut, which is made from a vase-painting, will show what I mean.

The subject of Fig. 16 is connected with the service of the dead, and shows a scene in the under world, such as accorded with ancient religious notions. In the upper portion the friends of the deceased are grouped around a little temple. Scholars trace the manufacture of these vases back to very ancient days, and down to its decline, about two centuries before Christ. I do not mean that vase-painting ceased then, for its latest traces come down to 65 b.c.; but like all other ancient arts, it was then in a state of decadence. Though vase-painting was one of the lesser arts, its importance can scarcely be overestimated, and it fully merits the devoted study and admiration which it receives from those who are learned in its history.
Fig. 16.—Scene in the Lower World
From a vase of the style of Lower Italy

From what we know of ancient Greek painting we may believe that this art first reached perfection in Greece. If we could see the best works of Apelles, who reached the highest excellence of any Greek painter, we might find some lack of the truest science of the art when judged by more modern standards; but the Greeks must still be credited with having been the first to create a true art of painting. After the decline of Greek art fifteen centuries elapsed before painting was again raised to the rank which the Greeks had given it, and if, according to our ideas, the later Italian painting is in any sense superior to the Greek, we must at least admit that the study of the works of antiquity which still remained in Italy, excited the great masters of the Renaissance to the splendid achievements which they attained.
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Paintings on Stone

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It is well known that much of the decoration of Greek edifices was in colors. Of course these paintings were put upon the marble and stone of which the structures were made. The Greeks also made small pictures and painted them on stone, just as canvas and panels of wood are now used. Such painted slabs have been found in Herculaneum, in Corneto, and in different Etruscan tombs; but the most important and satisfactory one was found at Pompeii in 1872. Since then the colors have almost vanished; but Fig. 14, from it, will show you how it appeared when found. It represents the mythological story of the punishment of Niobe, and is very beautiful in its design.
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MOSAICS - From a Mosaic Picture in the Capitol, Rome

- - Sanny Tendilla


The pictures known as mosaics are made by fitting together bits of marble, stone, or glass of different colors and so arranging them as to represent figures and objects of various kinds, so that at a distance they have much the same effect as that of pictures painted with brush and colors. The art of making mosaics is very ancient, and was probably invented in the East, where it was used for borders and other decorations in regular set patterns. It was not until after the time of Alexander the Great that the Greeks used this process for making pictures. At first, too, mosaics were used for floors or pavements only, and the designs in them were somewhat like those of the tile pavements of our own time.

This picture of doves will give you a good idea of a mosaic; this subject is a very interesting one, because it is said to have been first made by Sosos in Pergamos. It was often repeated in later days, and that from which our cut is taken was found in the ruins of Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli, near Rome; it is known as the Capitoline Doves, from the fact that it is now in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. Few works of ancient art are more admired and as frequently copied as this mosaic: it is not unusual to see ladies wear brooches with this design in fine mosaic work.

Fig. 13.—Doves Seated on a Bowl.
From a mosaic picture in the Capitol, Rome.
A few examples of ancient mosaics which were used for wall decorations have been found; they may almost be said not to exceed a dozen; but pavement mosaics are very numerous, and are still seen in the places for which they were designed and where they have been during many centuries, as well as in museums to which they have been removed. They are so hard in outline and so mechanical in every way that they are not very attractive if we think of them as pictures, and their chief interest is in the skill and patience with which mosaic workers combine the numberless particles of one substance and another which go to make up the whole.
Mosaic pictures, as a rule, are not large; but one found at Palestrina, which is called the Nile mosaic, is six by five metres inside. Its subject is the inundation of a village on the river Nile. There are an immense number of figures and a variety of scenes in it; there are Egyptians hunting the Nile horse, a party of revellers in a bower draped with vines, bands of warriors and other groups of men occupied in different pursuits, and all represented at the season when the Nile overflows its banks. This is a very remarkable work, and it has been proved that a portion of the original is in the Berlin Museum, and has been replaced by a copy at Palestrina.
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Ancient Wall Painting

- - Sanny Tendilla

Fig. 5.—Etruscan Wall-painting.

The works of the ancient painters which still remain in various countries are wall-paintings, paintings on vases, mosaics, paintings on stone, and certain so-called miniatures; and besides these principal works there are many small articles, such as mirrors, toilet-cases, and other useful objects, which are decorated in colors.

We will first speak of the mural, or wall-paintings, as they are the most important and interesting remains of ancient painting. We shall only consider such as have been found in Italy, as those of other countries are few and unimportant.

The Etruscan tombs which have been opened contain many beautiful objects of various kinds, and were frequently decorated with mural pictures. They often consist of several rooms, and have the appearance of being prepared as a home for the living rather than for the dead. I shall give you no long or wordy description of them; because if what I tell you leads you to wish to know more about them, there are many excellent books describing them which you can read. So I will simply give you two cuts from these Etruscan paintings, and tell you about them.

Fig. 5 is in a tomb known as the Grotta della Querciola. The upper part represents a feast, and the lower portion a boar-hunt in a wood, which is indicated by the few trees and the little twigs which are intended to represent the underbrush of the forest. If we compare these pictures with the works of the best Italian masters, they seem very crude and almost childish in their simplicity; but, if we contrast them with the paintings of the Egyptians and Assyrians, we see that a great advance has been made since the earliest paintings of which we know were done. The pose and action of the figures and their grace of movement, as well as the folding of the draperies, are far better than anything earlier than the Greek painting of which there is any knowledge; for, as we have said, these Etruscan works are essentially Greek.

Fig. 6.—Human Sacrifice Offered by Achilles to the Shade of Patroklos.
From an Etruscan wall-painting.

Fig. 6 belongs to a later period than the other, and is taken from a tomb at Vulci which was opened in 1857 by François. This tomb has seven different chambers, several of which are decorated with wall-paintings of mythological subjects. A square chamber at the end of the tomb has the most important pictures. On one side the human sacrifices which were customary at Etruscan funerals are represented: the pictures are very painful, and the terror and agony of the poor victims who are being put to death make them really repulsive to see. On an opposite wall is the painting from which our cut is taken. This represents the sacrifices made before Troy by Achilles, on account of the death of his dear friend Patroklos. The figure with the hammer is Charon, who stands ready to receive the sacrifice which is intended to win his favor. Your mythology will tell you the story, which is too long to be given here. The realism of this picture is shocking in its effect, and yet there is something about the manner of the drawing and the arrangement of the whole design that fixes our attention even while it makes us shudder.

The ancient wall-paintings which have been found in Rome are far more varied than are those of Etruria; for, while some of the Roman pictures are found in tombs, others are taken from baths, palaces, and villas. They generally belong to one period, and that is about the close of the Republic and the beginning of the Empire. Modern excavations have revealed many of these ancient paintings; but so many of them crumble and fade away so soon after they are exposed to the air, that few remain in a condition to afford any satisfaction in seeing them. But fortunately drawings have been made of nearly all these pictures before they fell into decay.

Fig. 7.—The Aldobrandini Marriage.
From a wall-painting in the Vatican.

Some of the ancient paintings have been carefully removed from the walls where they were found, and placed in museums and other collections. One of the finest of these is in the Vatican, and is called the Aldobrandini Marriage. It received this name from the fact that Cardinal Aldobrandini was its first possessor after its discovery, near the Arch of Gallienus, in 1606.

As you will see from Fig. 7, from it, there are three distinct groups represented. In the centre the bride veiled, with her head modestly bowed down, is seated on a couch with a woman beside her who seems to be arranging some part of her toilet, while another stands near holding ointment and a bowl. At the head of the couch the bridegroom is seated on a threshold. The upper part of his figure is bare, and he has a garland upon his head. On the right of the picture an ante-room is represented in which are three women with musical instruments, singing sacrificial songs. To the left, in another apartment, three other women are preparing a bath. This is charming on account of the sweet, serious way in which the whole story is placed before us; but as a painting it is an inferior work of art—not in the least above the style which we should call house decoration.

Although ancient writers had spoken of landscape paintings, it was not until 1848-1850, when a series of them was discovered on the Esquiline in Rome, that any very satisfactory specimens could be shown. These pictures number eight: six are complete, of the seventh but half remains, and the eighth is in a very imperfect state. They may be called historical landscapes, because each one has a complete landscape as well as figures which tell a story. They illustrate certain passages from the Odyssey of Homer. The one from which our cut is taken shows the visit of Ulysses to the lower world. When on the wall the pictures were divided by pilasters, and finished at the top by a border or frieze. The pilasters are bright red, and the chief colors in the picture are a yellowish brown and a greenish blue. In this scene the way in which the light streams through the entrance to the lower world is very striking, and shows the many figures there with the best possible effect. Even those in the far distance on the right are distinctly seen. This collection of Esquiline wall-paintings is now in the Vatican Library.

Fig. 8.—Landscape Illustration to the Odyssey.
From a wall-painting discovered on the Esquiline at Rome.

Besides the ancient mural paintings which have been placed in the museums of Rome, there are others which still remain where they were painted, in palaces, villas, and tombs. Perhaps those in the house of Livia are the most interesting; they represent mythological stories, and one frieze has different scenes of street life in an ancient town. Though these decorations are done in a mechanical sort of painting, such as is practised by the ordinary fresco painters of our own time, yet there was sufficient artistic feeling in their authors to prevent their repeating any one design.

One circumstance proves that this class of picture was not thought very important when it was made, which is that the name of the artist is rarely found upon his work: in but one instance either in Rome or Pompeii has this occurred, namely, in a chamber which was excavated in the gardens of the Farnesina Palace at Rome, and the name is Seleucus.

We have not space to speak of all the Italian cities in which these remains are discovered, and, as Pompeii is the one most frequently visited and that in which a very large proportion of the ancient pictures have been found, I will give a few illustrations from them, and leave the subject of ancient, mural paintings there. Many of the Pompeian pictures have been removed to the Museum of Naples, though many still remain where they were first painted.

The variety of subjects at Pompeii is large: there are landscapes, hunting scenes, mythological subjects, numerous kinds of single figures, such as dancing girls, the hours, or seasons, graces, satyrs, and many others; devotional pictures, such as representations of the ancient divinities, lares, penates, and genii; pictures of tavern scenes, of mechanics at their work; rope-dancers and representations of various games, gladiatorial contests, genre scenes from the lives of children, youths, and women, festival ceremonies, actors, poets, and stage scenes, and last, but not least, many caricatures, of which I here give you an example (Fig. 9).
Fig. 9.—The Flight of Æneas
From a wall-painting
The largest dog is Æneas, who leads the little Ascanius by the hand and carries his father, Anchises, on his shoulder. Frequently in the ancient caricatures monkeys are made to take the part of historical and imaginary heroes.

Human Sacrifice Offered by Achilles to the Shade of Patroklos From an Etruscan wall-painting
Fig. 10.—Demeter Enthroned.
From a Pompeian wall-painting.

Human Sacrifice Offered by Achilles to the Shade of Patroklos From an Etruscan wall-painting.
Fig. 11.—Pompeian Wall-painting.

Fig. 11 shows you how these painted walls were sometimes divided; the principal subjects were surrounded by ornamental borders, and the spaces between filled in with all sorts of little compartments. The small spaces in this picture are quite regular in form; but frequently they are of varied shapes, and give a very decorative effect to the whole work. The colors used upon these different panels, as they may be called, were usually red, yellow, black, and white—more rarely blue and green. Sometimes the entire decoration consisted of these small, variously colored spaces, divided by some graceful little border, with a very small figure, plant, or other object in the centre of each space.
Fig. 12.—Nest of Cupids.
From a Pompeian wall-painting.

Fig. 10, of Demeter, or Ceres, enthroned is an example of such devotional paintings as were placed above the altars and shrines for private worship in the houses of Pompeii, or at the street corners, just as we now see pictures and sacred figures in street shrines in Roman Catholic countries. In ancient days, as now, these pictures were often done in a coarse and careless manner, as if religious use, and not art, was the object in the mind of the artist.

Fig. 12, of a Nest of Cupids is a very interesting example of Pompeian painting, and to my mind it more nearly resembles pictures of later times than does any other ancient painting of which I know.
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The Painting of Greece and Ancient Italy

- - Sanny Tendilla


The painting of Greece and that of ancient Italy are so much the same that it is almost impossible to speak of them separately; the art of painting was carried from Greece to Italy by the Etruscans, and the art of ancient Rome was simply that of Greece transplanted. If Greek artists were employed by Romans, certainly their works were Greek; and if Romans painted they aimed to imitate the Greeks exactly, so that Italian painting before the time of the Christian era must be considered together with that of Greece.

In architecture and sculpture the ancient Greeks accepted what had been done by the Egyptians and Assyrians as a foundation, and went on to perfect the work of the older nations through the aid of poetic and artistic imaginations. But in painting the Greeks followed nothing that had preceded them. They were the first to make pictures which were a life-like reproduction of what they saw about them: they were the first to separate painting from sculpture, and to give it such importance as would permit it to have its own place, quite free from the influence of any other art, and in its own way as grand and as beautiful as its sister arts.

There are writers who trace the origin and progress of Greek painting from the very earliest times; but I shall begin with Apollodorus, who is spoken of as the first Greek painter worthy of fame, because he was the first one who knew how to make his pictures appear to be real, and to follow the rules of perspective so as to have a background from which his figures stood out, and to shade his colors and soften his outlines. He was very famous, and was called skiagraphos, which means shadow painter.

Apollodorus was an Athenian, and lived at about the close of the fifth century b.c. Although he was a remarkable artist then, we must not fancy that his pictures would have satisfied our idea of the beautiful—in fact, Pliny, the historian, who saw his pictures six hundred years later, at Pergamos, says that Apollodorus was but the gatekeeper who threw open the gates of painting to the famous artists who lived after him.

Zeuxis was a pupil of Apollodorus, and a great artist also. He was born at Heraclea, probably in Lower Italy. When young he led a wandering life; he studied at Athens under Apollodorus, and settled in Ephesus. He was in the habit of putting his pictures on exhibition, and charging an admittance fee, just as artists do now: he called himself “the unsurpassable,” and said and did many vain and foolish things. Near the end of his life he considered his pictures as beyond any price, and so gave them away. Upon one of his works he wrote, “Easier to carp at than to copy.” It is said that he actually laughed himself to death from amusement at one of his own pictures, which represented an old woman.

Zeuxis had a rival in the painter Parrhasius, and their names are often associated. On one occasion they made trial of their artistic skill. Zeuxis painted a bunch of grapes so naturally that the birds came to peck at them. Then Parrhasius painted a hanging curtain, and when his picture was exposed to the public Zeuxis asked him to draw aside his curtain, fully believing it to be of cloth and concealing a picture behind it. Thus it was judged that Parrhasius was the best artist, for he had deceived Zeuxis, while the latter had only deceived the birds.

From these stories it appears that these artists tried to imitate objects with great exactness. Parrhasius, too, was a vain man, and went about in a purple robe with a gold wreath about his head and gold clasps on his sandals; he painted his own portrait, and called it the god Hermes, or Mercury; he wrote praises of himself in which he called himself by many high-sounding names, for all of which he was much ridiculed by others.

However, both these artists were surpassed by Timanthes, according to the ancient writers, who relate that he engaged in a trial of skill with Parrhasius, and came off the victor in it. The fame of his picture of the “Sacrifice of Iphigenia” was very great, and its one excellence seems to have been in the varied expression of its faces. The descriptions of this great work lead to the belief that this Pompeian wall-painting, from which we give a cut, closely resembles that of Timanthes, which no longer exists.

The story of Iphigenia says that when her father, King Agamemnon, killed a hart which was sacred to Diana, or Artemis, that goddess becalmed his fleet so that he could not sail to Troy. Then the seer, Calchas, advised the king to sacrifice his daughter in order to appease the wrath of Diana. Agamemnon consented; but it is said that the goddess was so sorry for the maiden that she bore her away to Tauris, and made her a priestess, and left a hart to be sacrificed instead of Iphigenia. In our cut you see Calchas on the right; two men are bearing the maiden to her doom, while her father stands on the left with his head veiled from sight.

Sacrifice of Iphigenia From a Pompeian wall-painting.
Fig. 4.—Sacrifice of Iphigenia.
From a Pompeian wall-painting.

Zeuxis, Parrhasius, and Timanthes belonged to the Ionian school of painting, which flourished during the Peloponnesian war. This school was excelled by that of Sikyon, which reached its highest prosperity between the end of the Peloponnesian war and the death of Alexander the Great. The chief reason why this Dorian school at Sikyon was so fine was that here, for the first time, the pupils followed a regular course of study, and were trained in drawing and mathematics, and taught to observe nature with the strictest attention. The most famous master of this school was Pausias; some of his works were carried to Rome, where they were much admired. His picture of the garland-weaver, Glykera, gained him a great name, and by it he earned the earliest reputation as a flower-painter that is known in the history of art.

Nikomachos, who lived at Thebes about 360 b.c., was famous for the rapidity with which he painted pictures that were excellent in their completeness and beauty. Aristides, the son or brother of Nikomachos, was so good an artist that Attalus, king of Pergamos, offered more than twenty thousand pounds, or about one hundred thousand dollars, for his picture of Dionysus, or Bacchus. This wonderful picture was carried to Rome, and preserved in the temple of Ceres; but it no longer exists. Euphranor was another great painter, and was distinguished for his power to give great expression to the faces and a manly force to the figures which he painted.

Nikias, the Athenian, is said to have been so devoted to his art that he could think of nothing else: he would ask his servants if he had bathed or eaten, not being able to remember for himself. He was very rich, and when King Ptolemy of Egypt offered him more than sixty thousand dollars for his picture of Ulysses in the under-world, he refused this great sum, and gave the painting to his native city. Nikias seems to have greatly exalted and respected his art, for he contended that painters should not fritter away time and talent on insignificant subjects, but ought rather to choose some grand event, such as a battle or a sea-fight. His figures of women and his pictures of animals, especially those of dogs, were much praised. Some of his paintings were encaustic, that is to say, the colors were burned in; thus they must have been made on plaster or pottery of some sort. Nikias outlived Alexander the Great, and saw the beginning of the school of painters to which the great Apelles belonged—that which is called the Hellenic school, in which Greek art reached its highest point.

Apelles was the greatest of all Greek painters. He was born at Kolophon; but as he made his first studies at Ephesus he has been called an Ephesian: later he studied in the school of Sikyon, but even when a pupil there he was said to be the equal of all his instructors. Philip of Macedon heard of his fame, and persuaded Apelles to remove to his capital city, which was called Pella. While there Apelles became the friend of the young Alexander, and when the latter came to the throne he made Apelles his court-painter, and is said to have issued an edict forbidding all other artists from painting his portrait. Later on Apelles removed to Ephesus.

During the early part of his artistic life Apelles did little else than paint such pictures as exalted the fame of Philip, and afterward that of Alexander. He painted many portraits of both these great men; for one of Alexander he received nearly twenty-five thousand dollars; in it the monarch was represented as grasping the thunderbolt, as Jupiter might have done, and the hand appeared to be stretched out from the picture. This portrait was in the splendid temple of Diana, or Artemis, at Ephesus. Alexander was accustomed to say of it, “There are two Alexanders, one invincible, the living son of Philip—the other immutable, the picture of Apelles.”

Later in his life Apelles painted many pictures of mythological subjects. He visited Alexandria, in Egypt; he did not win the favor of King Ptolemy, and his enemies in the Egyptian court played cruel practical jokes upon him. On one occasion he received an invitation to a feast at which the king had not desired his presence. The monarch was angry; but Apelles told him the truth, and appeased his wrath by sketching on the wall the exact likeness of the servant who had carried the invitation to him. However, Ptolemy remained unfavorable to him, and Apelles painted a great picture, called Calumny, in which he represented those who had been his enemies, and thus held them up to the scorn of the world. Apelles visited Rhodes and Athens, but is thought to have died in the island of Kos, where he had painted two very beautiful pictures of the goddess Venus. One of these is called the Venus Anadyomene, or Venus rising from the sea. The emperor Augustus carried this picture to Rome, and placed so high a value on it that he lessened the tribute-money of the people of Kos a hundred talents on account of it. This sum was about equal to one hundred thousand dollars of our money.

The art of Apelles was full of grace and sweetness, and the finish of his pictures was exquisite. The saying, “leave off in time,” originated in his criticism of Protogenes, of whom he said that he was his superior except that he did not know when to leave off, and by too much finishing lessened the effect of his work. Apelles was modest and generous: he was the first to praise Protogenes, and conferred a great benefit upon the latter by buying up his pictures, and giving out word that he was going to sell them as his own. Apelles was never afraid to correct those who were ignorant, and was equally ready to learn from any one who could teach him anything. It is said that on one occasion, when Alexander was in his studio, and talked of art, Apelles advised him to be silent lest his color-grinder should laugh at him. Again, when he had painted a picture, and exposed it to public view, a cobbler pointed out a defect in the shoe-latchet; Apelles changed it, but when the man next proceeded to criticise the leg of the figure, Apelles replied, “Cobbler, stick to your last.” These sayings have descended to our own day, and have become classical. All these anecdotes from so remote a time are in a sense doubtful; but they are very interesting—young people ought to be familiar with them, but it is also right to say that they are not known to be positively true.

Protogenes of Rhodes, to whom Apelles was so friendly, came to be thought a great painter. It is said that when Demetrius made war against Rhodes the artist did not trouble himself to leave his house, which was in the very midst of the enemy’s camp. When questioned as to his fearlessness he replied, “Demetrius makes war against the Rhodians, and not against the Arts.” It is also said that after hearing of this reply Demetrius refrained from burning the town, in order to preserve the pictures of Protogenes.

The ancient writers mention many other Greek painters, but none as important as those of whom we have spoken. Greek painting never reached a higher point than it had gained at the beginning of the Hellenistic age. Every kind of painting except landscape-painting had been practised by Greek artists; but that received no attention until figure-painting had declined. Vitruvius mentions that the ancients had some very important wall-paintings consisting of simple landscapes, and that others had landscape backgrounds with figures illustrating scenes from the poems of Homer. But we have no reason to believe that Greek landscape-painting was ever more than scenic or decorative work, and thus fell far short of what is now the standard for such painting.

The painting of the early Romans was principally derived from or through the early Etruscans, and the Etruscans are believed to have first learned their art from Greek artists, who introduced plastic art into Italy as early as b.c. 655, when Demaratus was expelled from Corinth—and later, Etruscan art was influenced by the Greek colonies of Magna Græcia. So it is fair to say that Etruscan art and early Roman art were essentially Greek art. The earliest artists who are known to have painted in Rome had Greek names, such as Ekphantos, Damophilos, and Gargasos. Later on in history there are painters mentioned with Latin names, but there is little of interest related concerning them; in truth, Ludius (who is also called by various authors Tadius and Studius) is the only really interesting ancient Roman painter of whom we know. He lived in the time of Augustus, and Pliny said of him: “Ludius, too, who lived in the age of the divine Augustus, must not be cheated of his fame. He was the first to bring in a singularly delightful fashion of wall-painting—villas, colonnades, examples of landscape-gardening, woods and sacred groves, reservoirs, straits, rivers, coasts, all according to the heart’s desire—and amidst them passengers of all kinds on foot, in boats, driving in carriages, or riding on asses to visit their country properties; furthermore fishermen, bird-catchers, hunters, vintagers; or, again, he exhibits stately villas, to which the approach is through a swamp, with men staggering under the weight of the frightened women whom they have bargained to carry on their shoulders; and many another excellent and entertaining device of the same kind. The same artist also set the fashion of painting views—and that wonderfully cheap—of seaside towns in broad daylight.”

We cannot think that Ludius was the first painter, though he may have been the first Roman painter, who made this sort of pictures, and he probably is the only one of whose work any part remains. Brunn and other good authorities believe that the wall-painting of Prima Porta, in Rome, was executed by Ludius. It represents a garden, and covers the four walls of a room. It is of the decorative order of painting, as Pliny well understood, for he speaks of the difference between the work of Ludius and that of the true artists who painted panel pictures and not wall-paintings. After the time of Ludius we can give no trustworthy account of any fine, Roman painter.
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