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Christianity has only given to art a new and more congenial direction. In the effulgent majesty, superhuman power, and "beautiful disdain" of the Apollo Belvidere, as well as in the frightful contortions of the Laocoon, vainly struggling with destiny, we see expressions of that same ideality which gave shape to the works of Raphael and Michael Angelo, only less satisfying, and less adapted to all ages, in proportion to the imperfection of the religious light of the classic world.

If these views have any force, it is manifest that to slight the fine arts is to neglect a most potent means of mental and moral culture, and a means especially adapted to us Americans, who, as a people, are so prone to be engrossed by actual, passing scenes and interests. We certainly do need this auxiliary to other influences in opposition to a groveling tendency, this aid to the cultivation of thoughts and sensibilities which reach beyond things present. Ideality, indeed, is not wanting among us. As regards vast schemes for material improvement, and a readiness to entertain even visionary suggestions relating to that end, we are sufficiently ideal, and prove ourselves to possess, in our national constitution of mind, no small measure of the essential ground of art. This endowment requires, in our case, however, especially, to be directed, elevated, and refined. What it is capable of producing, under culture, is shown by the works of artists whom we are proud to call our own, possessing characteristics which rank them with some of the brightest ornaments of the golden age and most genial clime of modern art. To say nothing of the living, it is sufficient to name Allston, our American Raphael, Horatio Greenough, Cole, and Crawford.

These general remarks may have detained me too long. Let me now rapidly indicate the course of the history of modern Italian art, previous to the time of Michael Angelo. Modern art had its birth in the Catacombs, where the early Christians cheered their faith with rudely drawn, but expressive, emblems of the new grounds of hope on which they rested, or of spiritual triumphs amid outward depression. With the establishment of Christianity as the religion of the State, the walls and recesses of the Catacombs, now hallowed by the memory of

martyrs, were occupied with more truly artistic representations of Christian subjects, chiefly suggested by a habit of allegorizing the history of the Old Testament, but including, also, the most significant incidents in the life of the Saviour, and fanciful portraitures of his "marred" yet ever winning


These hints respecting art in the Catacombs may be followed up by consulting Bosio's Roma Sotterranea, an old work in the College Library, and Pierret's recently published work on the Catacombs, which I have not yet seen. Under Constantine, also, the old Roman art of mosaic began to be applied to Christian themes in the rising churches. But these early efforts of Christian art, though here and there revealing to us, in their ruins, some touches of classic grace or dignity, are distinguished rather as attempts to express sentiments not before embodied by art, than for any merit of execution. Art had lost its ancient habit, from being long out of practice, and could not yet handle its new subjects with freedom. As Italy became de pressed under the successors of Constantine, and at length sank into a state of dependence upon the eastern emperors, the Byzantine style of art prevailed, and there was inaugurated an age of stiffness, conventionalism, sacrifice of artistic propriety to decorative effect, as in the use of gilding, together with a lower Christian feeling in art, as indicated by the multiplication of stereotyped images of the Madonna. From this low condition the arts did not arise, in Italy, until the Roman church reasserted Roman supremacy, and thus a new national life sprang up. Then, an infusion of Germanic elements, brought about by the Ostrogothic and Lombard conquests, first showed itself in Italian art, and a period of intermingling between Byzantine and Germanic tendencies began. There was greater freedom; new thoughts were expressed, for a livelier religious sentiment had taken the place of the torpor of past generations; and greater power in giving shape to thought was manifested. Such was the direction of the progress of art during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which is illustrated especially by the paintings of Guido of Siena, Cimabue,

and Duccio, and by the sculptures of Niccolò and Giovanni of Pisa. The cathedral of Pisa, and the whole group of buildings of which that forms the center, are an architectural example of this stage of art.

The fourteenth century witnessed a new development of artistic taste and habit, which has been described by Kugler as consisting in a more distinct expression of the artist's own character; his simple aim, hitherto, having been faithfully to represent his chosen theme, losing himself, rather than expressing his individual consciousness, in it. Two schools now arose that of Florence, represented chiefly by Giotto and his followers, among whose works the very instructive, though unfortunately dilapidated, frescos of the Campo Santo of Pisa are conspicuous; and the school of Siena, of which Angelico da Fiesole was one of the most characteristic representatives. The Florentine school sought to express the varied griefs and joys of changeful life, with dramatic impressiveness, as is seen in Orcagna's Triumph of Death and Last Judgment, in the Campo Santo, and was manifestly inspired and guided by the genius of Dante. The Sienese school gave itself up to the simple utterance of meditative piety, as is illustrated by Angelico's frescos in the convent of San Marco at Florence. Another school, also, arose in Padua, where D'Avanzo made the first attempts at optical illusion in painting.

In the fifteenth century, art was carried to a higher perfection than had ever before been attained. This farther advance is to be ascribed to a minute and diligent study of nature, which gave more living reality to the delineation of form. The most marked modification of artistic feeling during this same period originated with the Umbrian school, represented by Pietro Perugino, the first teacher of Raphael. It was a tendency to sentimentalism, due to the extravagance of religious fervor awakened by the Umbrian St. Francis of Assisi.

Before Michael Angelo and Raphael had appeared to raise art to her throne, it was Leonardo da Vinci, uniting truth to nature, graceful design and depth of sentiment, who did

more than any other artist to establish her royal prerogatives. But Da Vinci, though born before either of those great masters, was rather their contemporary than their predecessor in


This very imperfect historical sketch is based upon personal observations, made, however, with the aid of Kugler's Handbook of Painting, a book which I desire especially to recommend as richly instructive for the student of art, and therefore a most valuable companion in galleries. The student may also read, with much profit, Lord Lindsay's Sketches of the History of Christian Art, which relate to times anterior to Michael Angelo and Raphael.

It remains for me to trace the artistic career of Michael Angelo, or, more properly, Michele Agnolo Buonarroti, noticing his principal works in the order of their production. For biographical statements, my chief authority will be Quatremère de Quincy's Histoire de la Vie et des Ouvrages de Michel Ange Bonarroti, published at Paris in 1835; while in characterizing this great artist's works I shall either draw from notes of my own, chiefly made in connection with the study of them, or quote the remarks of others, as justice to the impressions which they made upon my own mind may dictate. I lay no claim to connoisseurship, and shall therefore attempt no technical criticisms. My habit has been to cultivate acquaintance with works of art by simply yielding myself up, in a trusting mood, to their influence. The best exposition of the genius of Michael Angelo, hitherto given to the world, is undoubtedly to be found in Harford's Life of Michael Angelo Buonarroti; with Translations of many of his Poems and Letters, published at London in 1857, on which there are very interesting articles in the Edinburgh Review for October, 1857, and the London Quarterly for April, 1858. The work itself, I have not yet seen.*

* Having since read this work of Mr. Harford, I cannot pass it by without recognizing the great value and interest of its additions to our knowledge of Michael Angelo-especially of those influences which the philosophical and religious movements of his time may be supposed to have exerted upon the formation of his character, and the development of his genius.

Michael Angelo was born in 1474, at a castle on the Apennines, in the neighborhood of Florence, where his father was residing, for the time, in the capacity of Podestà. The ancestral seat of the Buonarroti family was at Settignano, three miles only from Florence, where the infant Michael Angelo was put out to nurse with the wife of a worker in marble, of that village. In after years, when his friend Vasari was admiring his sculptures, he jocosely said: "Why art thou surprised?-knowest thou not that I was nursed by the wife of a stone-cutter?" His genius for art manifested itself at an early period, and irresistibly prevailed over the intention of his father that he should succeed him in the employments of civil life. Without his father's knowledge he began to practice drawing, and, becoming acquainted with Granacci, a pupil of Domenico Ghirlandajo, he gained the countenance of the latter in the indulgence of his boyish passion. Ghirlandajo, convinced of his supereminent native ability as a draughtsman, at length made it known to his father. At this time, even in Italy, the occupation of an artist was considered to be beneath the dignity of a family of ancient respectability and noble connections, like that of the Buonarroti; and the father of Michael Angelo would, if he could, have quelled the impulse of nature in his son. But he was constrained to yield, and his boy, at the age of fourteen years, became an apprenticed pupil of Ghirlandajo, for the term of three years, receiving from the first a salary, which was to be increased each year-an indication that Ghirlandajo expected to turn his powers to some account for himself. He could now freely follow his natural bent, and grew bold with success, until even his master began to be jealous of him.

About this time Lorenzo de' Medici, the Magnificent, was beginning to make those collections of ancient sculpture which were destined to exert so powerful an influence on modern art, and Michael Angelo, though he had not yet tried his hand in sculpture, was marked by Lorenzo as one of those who would be most likely to profit by the study of the antique. He accordingly enjoyed the privilege of free entrance to the palace of the Medici, in which the remains of

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