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command an important post of defense, during this stormy interval. When quiet was restored, and Clement VII had become reconciled to Michael Angelo, the Medicean monuments were so far completed as we now see them. They were never entirely finished.
In his fifty-ninth year, the attention of the great artist was divided between a call from Clement VII, to paint the Last Judgment and the Fall of the Angels in the Sistine Chapel, and one on the part of the executors of Julius II, to complete his mausoleum. Just at this juncture, Clement died, and Paul III succeeded him. The claims of the deceased pontiff Julius II were now compromised by the execution of his mausoleum on a plan very inferior to the original design; after which Michael Angelo commenced his fresco of the Last Judgment, and occupied upon it the next eight or nine years of his life. It was finished when he was about sixty-seven years old. From the Sistine Chapel he was then transferred to the so-called Pauline Chapel, also in the Vatican, where he painted the Conversion of St. Paul and the Crucifixion of St. Peter, finishing these frescos in his seventy-fifth year.
But already in the year 1546, the seventy-second of his age, Michael Angelo was appointed architect of St. Peter's. The last sixteen years of his life were devoted to the execution of a noble plan which he had devised for the rebuilding of this cathedral, without other recompense than the gratification of partially realizing a great conception, and thus forever associating his name with the greatest architectural work of modern times.
The basilica dedicated by Constantine to St. Peter was begun in 324, and continued to be the central temple of the Roman Catholic world for eleven centuries. During the pontificate of Nicholas V, it was determined that a new structure should take its place, and a small beginning was made in the work, under the direction Alberti and Rosellini. Early in the sixteenth century, Julius II took up the enterprise anew, with Bramante for his architect. The death of Julius II, in 1513, and that of Bramante in 1514, suspended the work. Leo X continued it, on Bramante's plan, under the direction of Giamberti, Giocondo and Raphael. In 1520, the year of
Raphael's death, the work was entrusted to Peruzzi and San Gallo. But not much progress was made during the remaining year of the pontificate of Leo X, nor until 1546, when Paul III persuaded Michael Angelo to assume the direction. Thus far, since the early part of the sixteenth century, Bramante's design, in the main, had been adhered to, except that Peruzzi had substituted the form of the Greek cross for the prolongation of the Latin, making the nave and transepts of equal length, and was followed, in this change of plan, by San Gallo, who for ten years before the appointment of Michael Angelo had been sole architect of St. Peter's. Bramante must also have the credit of the first suggestion of a dome, to constitute the central mass and highest portion of the building; and that this dome should, in magnitude and elevation, resemble the Pantheon raised in mid-air upon arches as high as those of the Basilica of Constantine, thus uniting in itself the dimensions and proportions of two of the most magnificent remains of ancient Rome, seems to have been originally his suggestion. But it remained for Michael Angelo to construct such a dome, which other architects had only imagined, as well as to make all the rest of the edifice harmonize with it in simple grandeur; and, in order to work with freedom, he caused the parts already built to be torn down. What his genius made St. Peter's to be I shall not attempt to describe. Yet perhaps, by stating its principal dimensions, I may aid the imagination to enlarge itself to the compass of the greatness of this work. One who approaches St. Peter's first finds himself within the gigantic arms of a magnificent elliptical arcade, measuring seven hundred and sixty by seven hundred and twenty-two feet, which at once seems to exclude from the mind all mean ideas, and to fill it with elevating thoughts. From this he passes into a square, measuring three hundred and fifty-seven feet by three hundred and fifty-two, and ascends the steps of the cathedral, projecting more than half way into this square. A porch now receives him, which is two hundred and twenty-five feet long by forty feet broad, and sixty-three high, with side-porches of proportionate measurement. At last, he enters the cathedral itself, the nave of which stretches before him five hundred and ninetytwo feet, crossed by transepts, together measuring four hundred
and twenty-eight feet in length; and standing under the dome, at the intersection of the nave and the transepts, he looks up, through clear space, to the height of three hundred and seventy-nine feet-the roof of the nave and transepts being one hundred and forty-one feet from the floor, while above that rises the base of the dome, ninety-three feet high, crowned by the dome itself, measuring one hundred and thirty-six feet in diameter, at its base, and springing its majestic arches with magic lightness to the height of one hundred and forty-five feet.
Of course, the entire structure, with its approaches, was not completed under Michael Angelo's own eye. That gigantic elliptical arcade in front was only begun in the pontificate of Alexander VII, about the middle of the seventeenth century. Yet Michael Angelo left behind him exact drawings of every part, from which his first followers in the direction of the work, under successive pontifs, were required not to deviate. Indeed, he had himself, intentionally, carried forward the work in such a manner that the main features of his design could not but be executed. The dome was finished in 1590, in the pontificate of Sixtus V. But under Paul V, who became pontiff in 1605, and to whom belongs the honor of having brought to a completion the work of rebuilding St. Peter's, Michael Angelo's plan was set aside in two important particulars: first, that the building was at last made to have the form of the Latin cross, by the prolongation of the nave, which greatly impaired the unity of the whole structure; and then, that a façade differing from Michael Angelo's design, and inferior to it, was erected.
Another great architectural work of Michael Angelo was the planning and building of the public edifices which form the Piazza del Campidoglio at Rome, on the ancient Capitoline hill. Time forbids me to dwell upon them.
Michael Angelo died at Rome in 1564, aged eighty-eight years. The city of his ancestors claimed his remains, and there, in the church of Santa Croce, which has been appropriately called the Florentine Westminster Abbey, may be seen his sarcophagus, surmounted by his bust, with a small Pietà from his own hand above it; and on the sides of the sarco
phagus figures in marble, which personify the arts of sculpture, painting and architecture in mourning for the universal artist.
In order to leave a more distinct impression of the leading traits of Michael Angelo's character as an artist, I will conclude by presenting a brief summary of the main points which I have attempted to illustrate.
1. He was preeminently true to nature. He loved nature for her own sake, penetrated deeply into her mysteries, and was bold in following her guidance, even to the disregard of conventional propriety. He saw a divine handwriting there, which he would not efface or obscure by any compromise with prudery. His example in this respect was especially influential in the golden age of modern art-that brief period covered by Michael Angelo and Raphael, and their earlier followers-for the most indispensable attainment of the masterartist is a facility in reading the handwriting of God in nature. Raphael had, perhaps, a finer feeling for beauty, in a limited sense, than Michael Angelo; but the example of the latter, in all probability, did much to disengage Raphael from the sentimental tendency of the school of Perugino, and to bring him to the fresh freedom of his later style.
2. Michael Angelo had great ideality. He was a true poet in art. Deeply moved by the works of God, his imagination was filled with visions of ideal grandeur, which could embody themselves only in what was vast and magnificent in outward form. He lived in a sublime world of his own: a sort of glorification of the actual world, by a separation from it of all that is mean and little, and an intensifying of its highest significations. Perhaps this may, in part, account for his leaving so many of his works unfinished. With a few bold strokes he brought out his idea, and to elaborate "ad unguem" might well seem to him to be only an imparing of its force.
3. He was no less distinguished by an inborn power of execution. He was a sculptor without instruction, painted his Prophets and Sybils in learning the art of using colors, and showed in directing the building of St. Peter's, with little previous practice, as much command of the principles of engineer
ing as of the rules of architectural design. So deep and full were the impressions upon his mind, that his hand could not fail to do its work. The mechanical power was, in him, no result of training, but simply the submissive handmaid of a commanding spirit.
4. I will only notice, farther, the versatility of his genius. All the fine arts, indeed, are intimately allied to one another, yet each one has its own processes, leading in divers directions. With all these he was familiar-nay, he invented processes in sculpture, painting, and architecture, which have claimed the scrutiny of his successors in all these arts.
The last sculptured work of Michael Angelo is supposed to have been a group which represents the mother of our Lord weeping over his dead body, now behind the high altar of the cathedral of Florence. It is only in the rough state, yet full of pathos. The subject must have been a favorite one, as he chose it for four distinct works which are known to us; and this partiality indicates his Christian faith. The same spirit of Christian faith animates a sonnet composed by him in his old age, of which these are the closing lines:
"Nè pinger nè scolpir fia più che queti
L'anima volta a quell 'amor divino,
Ch' aperse a prender noi in croce le braccia;"
and I will conclude with the words of the writer on Michael Angelo in the Edinburgh Review, who thus speaks of the artist's Christian character: "His religion corresponded with his art. He apprehended in their depth and breadth a few great and saving truths, and dwelt profoundly on these. We have no sonnets addressed to the Blessed Virgin, nor invocation of saints; but a humble confession of sins addressed to Almighty God, prayers to Him for forgiveness, for faith, for a new heart, for a true repentance, and for a part in the atonement of Christ." This view of Michael Angelo, I may add, is not irrelevant, but, on the contrary, highly pertinent, to the subject of art, inasmuch as it shows him to have been in sympathy of thought and feeling with the highest themes which can engage the human mind-a necessary condition of the highest efforts of art.