Porta, Baccio Della

, an eminent Florentine artist, whose surname is not known, was called Baccio dellaPorta, from a study which he kept when a youth, near a gate of the city; and this name was afterwards changed to the more celebrated one of Fra Bartolommeo di S. Marco, when he entered the order of that Dominican convent. Sometimes he is only called “il Frate.” He was born in 1469, and studied under Cosimo Roselli but soon grew enamoured of the grand chiaro-scuro of Lionardo da Vinci, and strove to emulate it. His progress was rapid, and he became the instructor of Raphael in colour, who gave him lessons in perspective, and taught him to unite gracefulness with grandeur of form. The composition of his sacred subjects, and he painted little else, is that which adhered to Raphael himself, and was not dismissed by the | Florentine school before the epoch of Pontormo; but he disguised its formality by the introduction of architecture and majestic scenery. To repel the invidious charge of incapacity for large proportions, he produced the sublime figure of St. Marc, which alone fills an ample pannel, and is, or was lately, among the spoils of the Louvre. His St. Sebastian, for skill in the naked, and energy of colour, obtained every suffrage of artists and of critics, but being considered as indecent, the monks thought proper to sell and send it to France. In drapery he may be considered as an inventor; no artist of his school formed it with equal breadth or dignity, or so natural and expressive of the limits; and if he were the instructor, he was certainly not the slave, of the layman. One work of his, of prodigious grandeur and beauty, is unnoticed by Mr. Fuseli, whose account we have nearly followed hitherto, viz. the Assumption of the Virgin, at Lucca. Its situation being retired, this picture is little known to travellers, though it is one of the most sublime productions of the pencil. Mr. West, the president of the Royal Academy, has in his possession a considerable part of the Studies mentioned by Vasari as having been left to his scholar, a nun of St. Catharine at Florence; and among them several drawings for this picture and its various parts. They are accompanied by about two hundred drawings of figures, draperies, and limbs, studied from nature with great care and taste; and exhibit the industry and uncommon zeal with which he laid the basis of his justly-acquired fame. He died in 1517. 1

1 Pilkington by Fuseli.* —Rees’s Cyclopædia.