Buonarroti, Michel Angelo

, a most illustrious painter, sculptor, and architect, was born in the castle of Gaprese, in Tuscany, March 6, 1474, and descended from the noble family of the counts of Canossa. At the time of his birth, his father, Lodovico di Leonardo Buonarroti Sinione, was podesta, or governor of Caprese and Chiusi, | and as he had not risen above the superstitious belief in astrological predictions, so common in that age, he was probably pleased to hear that “his chikl would be a very extraordinary genius.” His biographers indeed go so far as to tell us of a prediction, that he would excel in painting, sculpture, and architecture. When of a proper age, Michel Angelo was sent to a grammar-school at Florence, where, whatever progress he might make in his books, he contracted a fondness for drawing, which at first alarmed the pride of his family, but his father at length perceiving that it was hopeless to give his mind any other direction, placed him under Domenico Ghirlanda‘io, the most eminent painter at that time in Florence, and one of the most celebrated in Italy. He was accordingly articled for three years to Ghirlanda’io, from April 1488, but is said to have reaped no benefit from his instructions, as his master soon became jealous of his talents. He rapidly, however, surpassed his contemporary students, by the force of his genius, and his study of nature; and adopted a style of drawing and design more bold and daring than Ghirlandaio had been accustomed to see practised in his school; and, from an anecdote Vasari tells, it would seem Michel Angelo soon felt himself even superior to his master. One of the pupils copying a female portrait from a drawing by Ghirlandu’io, he took a pen and made a strong outline round it on the same paper, to shew him its defects; and the superior style of the contour was as much admired as the act was considered confident and presumptuous. His great facility in copying with accuracy whatever objects were before him sometimes forced a compliment even from Ghirlandaio himself.

When about this time Lorenzo de Medici established a school for the advancement of sculpture, in a garden in Florence, under the superintendence of Bertoldo, Lorenzo requested Ghirlandaio to permit any of his scholars to study there, who were desirous of drawing from the antique, and from that time the Medici garden became the favourite school of Michel Angelo. No sooner had he entered upon his studies here, than seeing a student modelling some figures in clay, he felt an emulation to do the same; und Lorenzo, who frequently visited the gardens, observing his progress, encouraged him with expressions of ap^ probation. He was, not long after, desirous to try his skill in marble, and being particularly interested in a | mutilated old head, or rather a mask representing a laughingFaun, he chose it for his original. Although this was hig first essay in sculpture, he finished it in a few days, supplying what was imperfect in the original, and making some other additions. Lorenzo visiting his garden as usual, found Michel Angelo polishing his mask, and thought it an extraordinary work for so young an artist; yet jestingly remarked, “You have restored to the old Faun all his teeth, but don’t you know that a man of such an age has generally some wanting?” Upon this observation, the moment Lorenzo departed, Michel Angelo broke a tooth from the upper jaw, and drilled a hole in the gum to represent its having fallen out.

To this little circumstance Michel Angelo, who was now between fifteen and sixteen years old, owed the patronage of Lorenzo, who adopted him into his. family, provided him with a room, and eVery accommodation in the palace, treated him as his own son, and introduced him to men of rank and genius. Among others he formed an intimacy with Politiano, who resided under the same roof, and soon became warmly attached to his interests. At his recommendation he executed a basso-relievo in marble, the subject of which was the battle of the Centaurs, of which it is sufficient praise, that it stood approved in the riper judgment of Michel Angelo himself, who, although not indulgent to his own productions, did not hesitate on seeing it, even in the decline of life, to express his regret that he had not entirely devoted himself to sculpture. In 1492, death deprived him of the patronage of Lorenzo, which, however, was in some measure continued to him by Lorenzo’s successor, a man of corrupt and vitiated taste, of whose discrimination in merit we have this notable proof that he boasted of two extraordinary persons in his house, Michel Angelo, and a Spanish footman who could out -run u horse. Michel Angelo, however, prosecuted his studies, and produced some fine specimens of art, until the tranquillity of Florence was disturbed by the haughty and pusillanimous conduct of his patron, Piero de Medici, when he thought proper to retire to Bologna to avoid the impending evils. Here he was invited into the house of Aldovrandi, a Bolognese gentleman, and one of the sixteen constituting the government, and during his stay executed two statues in marble for the church of St. Domenico. After remaining with this hospitable friend somewhat more | than a year, the affairs of Florence being tranquillized, he returned home to his father’s house, pursued his profession, and produced a statue of a sleeping Cupid, that advanced his reputation, but not without the aid of some trick. He was advised by a friend to stain the marble so as to give it the appearance of an antique, and in this state it was sent to Rome to an agent who pretended to have dug it up in a vineyard, and sold to cardinal St. Giorgio for two hundred ducats. What rendered this imposition unnecessary to Michel Angelo‘ s fame, was, that on the discovery of the real artist, he received the most flattering praises, and was invited to Rome, as the proper theatre for the exercise of his talents. At Rome he made several statues, which placed him in an enviable rank among his contemporaries, and a cartoon of St. Francis receiving the stigmata, painted in distemper for St. Pietro in Montorio; and while he executed these commissions both with credit and profit to himself, he was also indefatigable by observation and study to improve and elevate his style.

On the promotion of Pietro Soderini, to the rank of perpetual gonfaloniere, or chief magistrate of Florence, Michel Angelo was advised to return thither, as Soderini had the reputation of an encourages of genius, and he introduced himself to his patronage by a colossal statue of David, a figure in bronze, name unknown, and a groupe of David and Goliath. At the same time, that he might not entirely neglect the practice of painting, he painted a holy family for one Angelo Dorii, concerning which Vasari relates the following anecdote. When the picture was finished, it was sent home with a note requesting the payment of seventy ducats: Angelo Doni did not expect such a charge, and told the messenger he would give forty, which he thought sufficient: Michel Angelo immediately sent back the servant, and demanded his picture, or an hundred ducats: Angelo Doni, not liking to part with it, returned the messenger, agreeing to pay the original sum, but Michel Angelo, indignant at being haggled with, then doubled his first demand, and Angelo Doni, still wishing to possess the picture, acceded, rather than try any further experiment to abate his price.

That Michel Angelo might have an opportunity of adding to his lame as a painter, the gonfaloniere commissioned him to paint a large historical subject, to ornament the hall | of the ducal palace; and as it was the honourable ambition of Soderini to employ the talents of his country in the establishment of its fame, he engaged the abilities of Leonardo da Vinci, at the same time, to execute a corresponding picture to occupy the opposite side of the hall. An event in the war between the Florentines and Pisans, was the subject Michel Angelo chose, and that of Leonardo da Vinci was a battle of cavalry. Michel Angelo’s cartoon was the most extraordinary work that had appeared since the revival of the arts in Italy, but as no part of it now remains, an idea of it can be formed only from Vasari’s account and description. Such was the excellence of this work, that some thought it absolute perfection; not to be rivalled, and hopeless to be approached; and certainly some credit is due to this opinion, as from the time it was placed in the papal hall, it was for many years constantly visited by foreigners as well as natives, who, by studying and drawing from it, became eminent masters. It requires to be added, however, that the cartoon was all that was finished; from various causes, the picture itself was never begun, and the cartoon, which was exhibited to students for their improvement, was by degrees mutilated and destroyed, an irreparable injury to posterity.

On the accession of pope Julius II. a patron of genius and learning, Michel Angelo was among the first invited to his court, and after some time the pope, gave him an unlimited commission to make a mausoleum. Having received full powers, he commenced a design worthy of himself and his patron. The plan was a parallelogram, and the superstructure to consist of forty statues, many of which were to be colossal, interspersed with ornamental figures and bronze basso-relievos, besides the necessary architecture, with appropriate decorations, to unite the composition into one stupendous whole. When this magnificent design was completed, it met with the pope’s entire approbation, and Michel Angelo was desired to go into St. Peter’s to see where it could be conveniently placed. Michel Angelo fixed upon a particular spot, but the church itself, now old, being considered as ill-adapted, for so superb a mausoleum, the pope, after many consultations with architects, determined to rebuild St. Peter’s; and this is the origin of that edifice which took a hundred and fifty years to complete, and is now the grandest display of architectural splendour that ornaments the Christian world. To those, says his late excellent | biographer, who are curious in tracing the remote causes of great events to their source, Michel Angelo perhaps may be found, though very unexpectedly, to have thus laid the first stone of the reformation. His monument demanded a building of corresponding magnificence; to prosecute the undertaking money was wanting, and indulgences were sold to supply the deficiency of the treasury. A monk of Saxony (Luther) opposed the authority of the church, and this singular fatality attended the event, that whilst the most splendid edifice which the world had ever seen was building for the catholic faith, the religion to which it was consecrated was shaken to the foundation.

The work was begun, but before it had proceeded far, Michel Angelo met with some affront from the servants of the papal palace, who were jealous of his favour with the pope, and not being admitted to his holiness when he came on business, set off from Rome for Florence. As soon as this was known, couriers were dispatched after him, but, as he had got beyond the pope’s territories, they could not use force, and only obtained of Michel Angelo a letter to the pope explaining the cause of his departure. But after some time, and the intercession of friends, Michel Angelo consented to return to Rome, where, to his great disappointment, he found that the pope had changed his mind, and instead of completing the monument, had determined to decorate with pictures the ceilings and walls of the Sistine chapel, in honour of the memory of his uncle Sixtus IV. The walls of this chapel were already ornamented with historical paintings by various masters, but these were now to be effaced, and the entire chapel to be painted by Michel Angelo, so as to correspond in its parts, and make one uniform whole. Michel Angelo was diffident of his powers in fresco-painting, and recommended Raffaello, but the pope was peremptory, and our artist obliged to yield. He accordingly prepared the cartoons, and endeavoured to engage persons experienced in frescopainting, but being disappointed in the first specimen of their abilities, he determined himself to try how far he could overcome the difficulties which made it necessary for him to seek their aid, and succeeded in painting the ceiling to the astonishment and admiration even of his enemies. For the description of this stupendous monument of human genius, we must refer to our authority, but the circumstance not the least remarkable, was, that the whole was completed in twenty months, and on | AllSaints-Day, 1512, the chapel was opened, and the pope officiated at high mass to a crowded and admiring audience. Michel Angelo next applied himself to make designs for other pictures for the sides of the chapel, to complete the original plan: but on Feb. 21, 1513, the pope died, and to ^Michel Angelo his loss was not supplied. The old paintings still remain on the walls of this chapel.

Julius II. was succeeded by the celebrated Leo X. who professed the same warmth of attachment, and the same zeal to promote the talents of Michel Angelo. But we have already seen that the attachment of this great artist’s patrons was mixed with a degree of caprice which reduced him often to a state of servitude. Michel Angelo had received instructions to construct a monument for Julius II. on a lesser scale than the mausoleum which we have already mentioned. This Leo X. immediately interrupted, by insisting on his going to Florence to build the fagade of the church of S. Lorenzo, which remained unfinished from the time of his grandfather Cosmo de Medici, and Michel Angelo, after in vain pleading the engagement he was under, was obliged to comply. Nor was this all. While at Carrara, ordering the necessary marble, he received a letter from Leo desiring him to go to Pietra Santa, where his holiness had been told there was marble equal to that of Carrara. Michel Angelo obeyed, and reported that the marble was of an inferior quality, and that there was no means of conveying it to Fldrence without making a road of many miles to the sea, through mountains, and over marshes, &c. The pope, however, flattered with the prospect of procuring marble* from a territory which he could at any time call his own, ordered him to proceed, the result of which was that the talents of this great man were buried in those mountains, and his time consumed during the whole reign of Leo X. (above eight years) in little other than raising stone out of a quarry, and making a road to convey it to the sea. At the death of Leo the fagade of S. Lorenzo was not advanced beyond its foundation, and the time of Michel Angelo had been consumed in making a road, in seeing that five columns were made at the quarry of Pietra Santa, in conducting them to the sea-side, and in transporting one of them to Florence this employment, with occasionally making some models in wax, and some trifling designs for the interior of a room in the Medici palace, appears to have been all the benefit. | that was derived from his talents during the whole of this pontificate.

During the pontificate of Adrian VI. who succeeded Leo, the facade of S. Lorenzo was altogether laid aside, and Michel Angelo endeavoured to resume his labours on the monument of Julius II. for which the heirs of Julius were impatient, and threatened to make the artist accounjt for the monies received in the pontificate of Julius. He found a friend, however, in the cardinal Giuliano de Medici, who commissioned him to build a library and new sacristy to the church of S. Lorenzo, to serve as a mausoleum for the Medici family; and also to execute monuments to the memory of the dukes Giuliano and Lorenzo, to be placed in it; and these works took up the whole Of Michel Angelo’s attention during the short pontificate of Adrian VI. which lasted only twenty months, ending Sept. 14, 1523. During the first part of the pontificate of his successor Clement VII. formerly Giuliano de Medici, Michel Angelo went on with the chapel and library of S. Lorenzo, which Giuliano had ordered, and executed a statue of Christ, of the size of nature, to be placed on an altar in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, at Rome, and which is still in that church, but on a pedestal at the entrance of the choir. During the wars which succeeded, we find him employing his talents on works of fortification at Florence, when besieged by the prince of Orange, but hearing of some treacherous plans to undermine the republic, he withdrew secretly to Ferrara, and thence to Venice. Being, however, solicited by persons high in office not to abandon the post committed to his charge, he returned, and resumed his situation, until the city surrendered to the pope, when he was obliged to secrete himself in an obscure retreat. The pope having by a public manifesto given him assurances, that if he would discover himself he should not be molested, qn condition that he would furnish the two monuments in St. Lorenzo, already begun, Michel Angelo, on this, with little respect for the persons his genius was to commemorate, and with less affection for his employer, hastened to complete his labour; not with any ardour of sentiment, but as a task which was the price of his liberty.

Tranquillity being restored in Italy, Michel Angelo was again called upon by the duke of Urbino, to complete the monument of Julius II, agreeable to the last design, | and was again interrupted by the pope, who wished to employ him at Florence, and Afterwards ordered him to paint the two end walls of the Sistine chapel. Our artist being unable openly to oppose the will of the pope, procrastinated the work as much as possible, and while he was engaged in making a cartoon for the chapel, secretly employed as much of his time as circumstances would allow, in forwarding the monument to Julius II. But this was again interrupted by the next pope, Paul III. although at length, after much riegociation, and after changing the design three times, he was permitted to complete, his task, which was placed, not in St. Peter’s, as originally intended, but in the church of S. Pietro, in Vincoli.

As there now remained no objection to Michel Angelo’s devoting his time to the service of the pope, he commenced painting the great work of the Last Judgment, in the Sistine chapel, which was finished in 1541, and the chapel opened on Christmas day. Persons are described to have come from the most distant parts of Italy to see it, and the public and the court were rivals in admiration, which must have been peculiarly grateful to Michel Angelo, not only from that pleasure common to all men who are conscious of deserving well, and having those claims allowed, but in succeeding to give the pope Paul III. entire satisfaction, who, in the first year of his pontificate, liberally provided him with a pension for his life of six hundred pounds a year, to enable him to prosecute the undertaking to his own satisfaction.

Near to the Sistine chapel, in the Vatican, Antonio de San Gallo built another by the order of Paul III. which is called after its founder the Paoline chapel, and the pope being solicitous to render it more honourable to his name, desired Michel Angelo would paint the walls in fresco. Although he now began to feel he was an old man, he undertook the commission, and on the sides opposite to each other painted two large pictures, representing the martyrdom of St. Peter, and the conversion of St. Paul. These pictures, he said, cost him great fatigue, and in their progress declared himself sorry to find fresco painting was not an employment for his years; he therefore petitioned his holiness that Perino del Vaga might finish the ceiling from his designs, which was to have been decorated with painting and stucco ornaments; but this part of the work was not afterwards carried into execution. | The pope often consulted Michel Angelo as an architect, although Antonio de San Gallo was the architect df St. Peter’s church, and promoted to that situation by his interest when cardinal Farnese, and now employed in his private concerns. The Farnese palace in Rome was designed by San Gallo, and the building advanced by him during his life; yet Michel Angelo constructed the bold projecting cornice that surrounds the top, in conjunction with him, at the express desire of the pope. He also consulted Michel Angelo in fortifying the Borgo, and made designs for that purpose; but the discussion of this subject proved the cause of some enmity between these two rivals in the pope’s esteem. In 1546 San Gallo died, and Michel Angelo was called upon to fill his situation as architect of St. Peter’s: he at first declined that honour, but his holiness laid his commands upon him, which admitted neither of apology nor excuse; however he accepted the appointment upon those conditions, that he would receive no salary, and that it should be so expressed in the patent, as he undertook the office purely from devotional feelings; and that, as hitherto the various persons employed in all the subordinate situations had only considered their own interest to the extreme prejudice of the undertaking, he should be empowered to discharge them, and appoint others in their sjead; and lastly, that he should be permitted to make whatever alterations he chose in San Gallo’s design, or entirely supply its place with what he might consider more simple, or in a better style. To these conditions his holiness acceded, and the patent was made out accordingly: vi

San Gallo’s model being more conformable to the principles of Saracenic than of Grecian or Roman architecture in the multiplicity and division of its parts, Michel Angelo made an original design upon a reduced scale, on the plan of a Greek cross, which met with the pope’s approbation; for, although the dimensions were less, the form was more grand than that of San Gallo’s model. Having commenced his labours on this edifice, it advanced with considerable activity, and before the end of the pontificate of Paul III. began to assume its general form and character. This, however, was only a part of his extensive engagements. He was commissioned to carry on the building of the Farnese paictfee, left unfinished by the death of San Gallo; and employed to build a palace on the Capitoline-hill for the senator of Rome, two galleries for the reception of sculpture and | pictures, and also to ornament this celebrated site with antique statues and relics of antiquity, from time to time dug up and discovered in Rome and its environs.

As in proceeding with St. Peter’s, he had, agreeably to his patent, chosen his own workmen, and dismissed others, the latter seldom failed of exerting such malice against him as they could display with impunity; and being exasperated by disappointments, they endeavoured to represent him as an unworthy successor of San Gallo, and upon the death of Paul III. an effort was mad^ to remove him from his situation, but Julius III. who succeeded to the pontificate, was hot less favourably disposed towards him than his predecessor; however, they presented a memorial, petitioning the pope to hold a committee of architects in St. Peter’s at Rome, to convince his holiness that their accusations and complaints were not unfounded. At the head of this party was cardinal Salviati, nephew to Leo X. and cardinal Marcello Cervino, who was afterwards pope by the title of Marcellus II. Julius agreed to the investigation, and the parties appeared in his presence. The complainants stated, that the church wanted light, and the architects had previously furnished the two cardinals with a particular example to prove the basis of the general position, which was, that he had walled up a. recess for three chapels, and made only three insufficient windows; upon which the pope asked Michel Angelo. to give his reasons for having done so; he replied, “I should wish first to hear the deputies.” Cardinal Marcello immediately said for himself and cardinal Salviati, “We ourselves are the deputies.” Then said Michel Angelo, “In the part of the church alluded to, over those windows are to be placed three others.” “You never said that before,” replied the cardinal; to which he answered with some warmth: “1 am not, neither will I ever be obliged to tell your eminence, or any one else, what I ought or am disposed to do; it is your office to see that the money be provided, to take care of the thieves, and to leave the building of St. Peter’s to me.” Turning to the pope, “Holy father, you see what I gain; if these machinations to which I am exposed are not for my spiritual welfare, I lose both my labour and my time.” The pope replied, putting his hands upon his shoulders, “Do not doubt, your gain is Dpw, and will be hereafter;” and at the same time gave him assurance of his confidence and esteem. | Julius prosecuted no work in architecture or sculpture without consulting him. What was done in the Vatican, or in his villa on the Flaminian way, was with Michel Angelo’s advice and superintendance. He was employed also to rebuild a bridge across the Tiber, but as his enemies artfully pretended to commiserate his advanced age, he so far fell into this new snare as to leave the bridge to be completed by an inferior artist, and in five years it was washed away by a flood, as Michel Angelo had prophesied. In 1555 his friend and patron pope Julius died, and perhaps it would have been happier for Michel Angelo if they had ended their days together, for he was now eighty-one years old, and the remainder of his life was interrupted by the caprices of four successive popes, and the intrigues under their pontificates. Under all these vexations, however, he went on by degrees with his great undertaking, and furnished designs for various inferior works, but his enemies were still restless. He now sawthat his greatest crime was that of having lived too long; and being thoroughly disgusted with the cabals, he was solicitous to resign, that his last days might not be tormented by the unprincipled exertions of a worthless faction. That he did not complain from the mere peevishness of age will appear from a statement of the last effort of his enemie.s, the most formidable of whom were the directors of the building. Their object was to make Nanni Biggio the chief architect, which they carefully concealed, and the bishop of Ferratino, who was a principal director, began the contrivance by recommending to Michel Angelo not to attend to the fatigue of his duty, owing to his advanced age, but to nominate whomever he chose to supply his place. By this contrivance Michel Angelo willingly yielded to so courteous a proposition, and appointed Daiiiello da Volterra. As soon as this was effected, it was made the basis of accusation against him, for incapacity, which left the directors the power of choosing a successor, and they immediately superseded da Volterra, by appointing Biggio in his stead. This was so palpable a trick, go untrue in principle, and so injurious in its tendency, that in justice to himself, he thought it necessary to represent it to the pope, at the same time requesting that it might be understood there was nothing he more solicited than his dismission. His holiness took up the discussion with interest, and begged he would not recede until he Vol. VII. X | had made proper inquiry, and a day was immediately appointed for the directors to meet him. They only stated in general terms, that Michel Angelo was ruining the building, and that the measures they had taken were essentially necessar}*, but the pope previously sent Signor Gabrio Serbelloni to examine minutely into the affair, who was a man well qualified for that purpose. Upon this occasion he gave his testimony so circumstantially, that the whole scheme was shown in one view to originate in falsehood, and to have been fostered by malignity. Biggio was dismissed and reprimanded, and the directors apologized, acknowledging they had been misinformed, but Michel Angelo required no apology; all he desired was, that the pope should know the truth; and he would have now resigned, had not his holiness prevailed upon him to hold his situation, and made a new arrangement, that his designs might not only be strictly executed as long as he lived, but adhered to after his death.

After this discussion, the time left to Michel Angelo for the enjoyment of his uncontrolled authority was short, for in the month of February 1563, he was attacked by a slow fever, which exhibited symptoms of his approaching death, and he desired Daniello da Volterra to write to his nephew Leonardo Buonarroti to come to Rome; his fever, however, increased, and his nephew not arriving, in the presence of his physician and others who were in his house, whom he ordered into his bed-room, he made this short nuncupative will: “My soul I resign to God, my body to the earth, and my worldly possessions to my nearest of kin;” then admonished his attendants: “In your passage through this life, remember the sufferings of Jesus Christ,” and soon after delivering this charge, he died, Feb. 17, 1563, aged eighty-eight years, eleven months, and fifteen days, which yet was not the life of his father, who attained the age of ninety-two. Three days after his death, his remains were deposited with great funeral pomp in the church of S. Apostoli, in Rome, but afterwards, at the request of the Florentine academy, were removed to the church of Santa Croce at Florence, and again with great solemnity finally deposited in the vault by the side of the altar, called the Altare de Cavalcanti.

The merits of Michel Angelo, as an artist, have been so frequently the object of discussion, that it would be impossible to examine or analyse the various opinions thsrt | have been published, without extending this article to an immoderate length. Referring, therefore, to our authorities, and especially to Mr. Duppa’s elaborate “Life of Michel Angelo,” which we have followed in the preceding sketch, we shall present the following outline from Mr. Fuseli, and conclude with some interesting circumstances in the personal history of this great artist: “Sublimity of conception,” says Mr. Fuseli, “grandeur of form, and breadth of manner, are the elements of Michel Angelo’s style; by these principles he selected or rejected the objects of imitation. As painter, as sculptor, as architect, he attempted, and above any other man succeeded, to unite magnificence of plan, and endless variety of subordinate parts, with the utmost simplicity and breadth. His line is uniformly grand. Character and beauty were admitted only as far as they could be made subservient to grandeur. The child, the female, meanness, deformity, were by him indiscriminately stamped with grandeur. A beggar rose from his hand the patriarch of poverty; the hump of Jiis dwarf is impressed with dignity; his women are moulds of generation; his infants teem with the man; his men are a race of giants. This is the” Terribil Via“hinted at by Agostino Carracci. To give the most perfect ease to the most perplexing difficulty, was the exclusive power of Michel Angelo. He is the inventor of epic painting in the sublime compartments of the Sistine chapel. He has personified motion in the groupes of the Cartoon of Pisa; embodied sentiment on the monuments of St. Lorenzo; unravelled the features of meditation in his Prophets and Sibyls; and, in the Last Judgment, with every attitude that varies the human body, traced the mastertrait of every passion that sways the human heart. Neither as painter or sculptor he ever submitted to copy an individual, Julio II. only excepted, and in him he represented the reigning passion rather than the man. In painting he contented himself with a negative colour, and, as the painter of mankind, rejected all meretricious ornament. The fabric of St. Peter’s, scattered into infinity of jarring parts by his predecessors, he concentrated, suspended the cupola, and to the most complex gave the air of the most simple of edifices. Such, take him all in all, was Michel Angelo, the salt of art; sometimes he, no doubt, had moments, and perhaps periods of dereliction, deviated into manner, or perplexed the grandeur of his forms with futile | and ostentatious anatomy; both met with herds of copyists, and it has been his fate to have been and still to be censured for their folly.

Michel Angelo was of the middle stature, bony in his make, and rather spare, although broad over the shoulders. He had a good complexion; his forehead was square, and somewhat projecting; his eyes rather small, of a hazel colour, and on his brows but little hair; his nose was flat, being disfigured from a blow he received when young from Torngiano, a fellow student; his lips were thin, and speaking anatomically, the cranium on the whole was rather large in proportion to the face. He wore his beard, which was divided into two points at the bottom, not very thick, and about four inches long; his beard and the hair of hrs head were black when a youug man, and his countenance animated and expressive.

In his childhood he was of a weakly constitution, and to guard his health with peculiar care, he was abstemious and continent; he seldom partook of the enjoyments of the table, and was used to say, “however rich I may have been, I have always lived as a poor man.” Although he ate little, he was extremely irregular in his meals; he had a bad digestion, and was much troubled with the head-ach, which he attributed to his requiring little sleep, and the delicate state of his stomach: notwithstanding these evils, during the meridian of life his general health was but little impaired. Many years before his death he was afflicted with stone and gravel, and when advanced in years, with the cramp in his legs.

In the early part of life, he not only applied himself to sculpture and painting, but to every branch of knowledge connected in any way with those arts, and gave himself up so much to application, that he in a great degree withdrew from society. From this disposition he became habituated to solitude, and, happy in his pursuits, he was more contented to be alone than in company, by which he obtained the character of being a proud and an odd man. When his mind was matured, he attached himself to men of learning and judgment, and in the number of his most intimate friends were ranked the highest dignitaries in the church, and the most eminent literary characters of his time. Among the authors he studied and delighted in most, were Dante and Pttrarch; of these it is saidhe could nearly repeat all their poems, and many of his sonnets (now | reprinted in his life by Mr. Duppa) shew how much he desired to imitate the poet of Vaucluse. He also studied with equal attention the sacred writings of the Old and New Testament. His acquirements in anatomy are manifest throughout his works, and he often proposed to publish a treatise upon that subject for the use of painters and sculptors; principally to shew what muscles were brought into action in the various motions of the human body, and was only prevented, from fearing lest he should not be able to express himself so clearly and fully as the nature of the subject required. Of perspective he knew as much as was known in the age in which he lived; but this branch of knowledge was not then reduced to a science, nor governed by mathematical principles.

The love of wealth made no part of Michel Angelo’s character; he was in no instance covetous of money, nor attentive to its accumulation. When he was offered commissions from the rich with large sums, he rarely accepted them, being more stimulated by friendship and benevolence than the desire of gain. He was also liberal, and freely assisted literary men as well as those of his own profession, who stood in need of his aid. He had a great love for his art, and a laudable desire to perpetuate his name. A friend of his regretted that he had no children to bequeath the profits acquired by his profession, to which he answered, “My works must supply their place; and if they are good for any thing, they must live hereafter.” He established it as a principle, that to live in credit was enough, if life was virtuously and honourably employed for the good of others and the benefit of posterity; and thus he laid up the most profitable treasure for his old age, and calculated upon its best resources.

Michel Angelo was never married, and whether he was at any time on the point of being so, is not known: that he was a man of domestic habits is certain, and he possessed ardent and affectionate feelings. Although love is the principal subject which pervades his poetry, and Petrarch the sole object of his imitation, no mention is made of his Laura, his Stella, or Eliza: her name is concealed if she had any; but the prevalency in his day of consolidating all personal feeling into Platonism, and a species of unintelligible metaphysics, may probably have given birth to most of his sonnets.

In his professional labours he continued to study to the | end of his life, but never was satisfied with any thing he did: when he saw any imperfection that might have been avoided, he easily became disgusted, rather preferring to commence his undertaking entirely anew than attempt an emendation. With this operating principle in his mind he completed few works in sculpture. Lomazzo tells an anecdote, that cardinal Farnese one day found Michel Angelo, when an old man, walking alone in the Colosseum, and expressed his surprize at rinding him solitary amidst the ruins; to which he replied, “I yet go to school that I may continue to learn something.” Whether the anecdote be correctly true or not, it is evident he entertained this feeling, for there is still remaining a design by him, of an old man with a long beard in a child’s go-cart, and an hour-glass before him; emblematical of the last stage of life, and on a scroll over his head, Anchora Inparo, denoting that no state of bodily decay or approximation to death was incompatible with intellectual improvement. An outline of this, as well as of many of the principal works of Michel Angelo, is given in his Life by Mr. Duppa, who concludes the best and most ample account of any artist in our language, with remarking that although Michel Angelo’s high-minded philosophy made him often regardless of rank and dignity, and his knowledge of human nature in one view concentrated the plausible motives and the inconsistent professions of men, yet he was not morose in his disposition, nor cynical in his habits. Those who knew him well esteemed him most, and those who were worthy of his friendship knew how to value it. The worthless flatterers of powerful ignorance, and the cunning, who at all times trust to the pervading influence of folly, feared and hated him. He was impetuous in the highest degree when he felt the slightest attack upon his integrity, and hasty in his decisions, which gave him an air of irascibility; but to all who were in need of assistance from his fortune or his talents he exercised a princely liberality; and to those of honourable worth, however low their station, he was kind and benevolent, he sympathized with their distresses, nor ever refused assistance to lessen the weight of oppression. In the catholic faith of his ancestors he was a sincere Christian, and enjoyed its beneficent influence; he was not theoretically one man, and practically another; nor was his piety ever subservient to caprice or | personal convenience; his religion was not as a staff he leaned upon, but the prop by which he was supported. 1


Life and Literary Works of M. A. Buonarroti by R. Duppa, 1806, 4to.— See also Head-s from Michel Angelo, by the same author, atlas folio.—Fuseli’s edition of Pilkington.—Sir Joshua Reynolds’s Works, See Index.