Andrew

, or more properly Andrea Del Sarto, so called from his father’s trade, that of a tailor, but whose family name was Venucci, was born at Florence in 1488, and at first instructed in his art by Barile, a mean painter, with whom he spent three years, at the end of which Barile placed him with Peter Cosimo, then accounted one of the best painters in Italy. Under him, he made astonishing proficiency, and his abilities began to be acknowledged, but Cosimo' s morose temper obliged him to leave him, and seek instruction in the works of other artists. As he had, while with Cosimo, employed himself in designing after Vinci, Raphael, and Buonaroti, to whose works he had access at Florence, he persisted in the same practice, formed an admirable taste, and excelled his young rivals at home or abroad, in correctness, colouring, and knowledge of his art. Having contracted a friendship | with Francesco Bigio, they determined to live together, and painted a great many works in the churches and convents of Florence, jointly, but Andrea’s reputation began to predominate, and seemed fixed by his representation of the preaching of St. John, executed for the Carmelites at Florence. Some time after this, he went to Rome to study the models of art in that city, but it is thought he did not remain there long enough to reap all the benefit which he might. The excellence of his pencil, and his power of imitation, were remarkably displayed in the copy he made of Leo X. between cardinal Medici and cardinal Rom, the head and hands by Raphael, and the draperies by Julio Romano. The imitation was so exact, that Julio, after the most minute inspection, and being told that it was a copy, could not distinguish it from the original. His superior talents might have raised him to opulence, if his imprudence had not reduced him to shame and poverty. The French king, Francis I. who was extremely partial to his works, invited him to his court, defrayed the expences of his journey, and made him many valuable presents. For a portrait, only, of the Dauphin, an infant, he received tjjree hundred crowns of gold, and he painted many other pictures for the court and nobility, for which he was liberally rewarded. While employed on a picture of St. Jerome, for the queen dowager, he received letters from his wife, soliciting his return to Florence, and, to indulge her, of whom he was excessively fond, he asked, and obtained a few months absence. It was on this occasion that the king, confiding in his integrity, made him several princely presents, and intrusted him with large sums of money to purchase statues, paintings, &c.; but Andrea instead of executing his commission, squandered away not only his own, but the money intrusted to him, became poor, and despised, and at last died of the plague, in his forty-second year, abandoned by his wife, and by all those friends who had partaken of his extravagance. His principal works were at Florence, but there were formerly specimens in many of the palaces and churches of Ijtaly and France. All the biographers and critics of painters, except perhaps Baldinucci, have been lavish in their praises of Andrea. Mr. Fuseli, in his much improved edition of Pilkington, observes, that, on comparing the merits of his works, they seem to have obtained their full share of justice. As a Tuscan, says that judicious critic, | the suavity of his tone, and facility of practice, contrast more strikingly with the general austerity and elaborate pedantry of that school, and gain-him greater praise than they would, had he been a Bolognese or Lombard. It cannot, however, be denied, that his sweetness sometimes borders on insipidity; the modesty, or rather pusillanimity of his character, checked the full exertion of his powers; his faults are of the negative kind, and defects rather than, blemishes. He had no notions of nature beyond the model, and concentrated all female beauty in his Lucrezia (his wife), and if it be true that he sacrificed his fortune and Francis I. to her charms, she must at least have equalled in form and feature his celebrated Madonna del Sacco; hence it was not unnatural that the proportions of Albert Durer should attract him more than those of Michael Angelo. His design and his conceptions, which seldom rose above the sphere of common or domestic life, kept pace with each other; here his observation was acute, and his ear open to every whisper of social intercourse or emotion. The great peculiarity, perhaps the great prerogative, of Andrea appears to be that parallelism of composition, which distinguishes the best of his historical works, seemingly as natural, obvious, and easy, as inimitable. In solemn effects, in alternate balance of action and repose, he excels all the moderns, and if he was often unable to conceive the actors themselves, he gives them probability and importance, by place and posture. Of costume he was ignorant, but none ever excelled, and few approached him in breadth, form, and style of that drapery which ought to distinguish solemn, grave, or religious subjects. 1

1

Pilkingtou. Yagari. Abregi de Vies da* Peiatres, vol. L &c.