Sarto, Andrea Del

, or Vannucchi, a famous Italian painter, was the son of a tailor, whence he had the name of Sarto, and was born at Florence in 1471. He was apprenticed to a goldsmith, with whom he lived some time; but was then placed with John Basile, an ordinary painter, who taught him the rudiments of his art; and afterwards with Peter Cosimo, and while with him, studied the cartoons of Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci; and by these means arrived at a mastery in his art. Being at last dissatisfied with his master, he associated with Francis Bigio, and they painted various pieces in conjunction, at Florence and about it, for the monasteries. At length some of Sarto’s pieces falling under the notice of Francis I. that monarch was so pleased with them, that he invited Sarto into France, and treated him with great liberality. He executed many pictures for the king and the nobiiity; but, while employed upon a St. Jerome for the queenxnother, he received letters from his wife, with whom he was infatuated, which made him resolve to return thither. He pretended domestic affairs, yet promised the king not only to return, but also to bring with him a good collection of pictures and sculptures. In this, however, he was overruled by his wife, and, never returning, gave Francis, who liad trusted him with a considerable sum of money, so bad an opinion of Florentine painters, that he would not look favourably on them for some years after. Sarto afterwards gave himself up wholly to pleasure, and became at length very poor. He was naturally mild and diffident, and set but very little value upon his own performances: yet the Florentines had so great an esteem for his works, that, during the fury of the popular factions among them, they preserved them from the flames. Sarto died of the plague in 1520, when only 42. Sarto’s works, in Mr. Fuseli’s opinion seem to have obtained their full share of justice. As a Tuscan, 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 wife, Lucretia; 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 Sacca: hence it was not unnatural that the proportions of Albert Durer should attract him more than those of Michaelagnolo. 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 me that parallelism of composition, which distinguishes the best of his historic 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 Argenville, vol. I. Pilkington by Fuseli.