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andler lip prominent; his complexion was a fortunate and delightful incident, was dark, and his hair and beard thick, that they were so brought together biack
, and crisp, and his countenance by sympathy of genius and by favourwas always sad and thoughtful.
ing circumstance as to become friends, llis manners, whether in public or at to love and honour each other in life, home, were wonderfully composed and and to celebrate each other through ali restrained, and in all his ways he was time in their respective works. "The more, courtcous and civil than any one story of their friendship is known only
in its outline, but that it began when Such was Dante as he appeared in they were young is certain, and that his later years to those from whose re- it lasted till death divided them is a tracollections of himn Boccaccio drew this dition which finds ready acceptance.
It was probably between 1290 and But Boccaccio, had he chosen so to 1300, when Giotto was just rising to do, might have drawn another portrait unrivailed fame, that this painting was of Dante, not the author of the Divine executed. There is no contemporary Comedy, but the author of the New record of it, the earliest known refer. Lijt
. The likeness of the youthful ence to it being that by Filippo Vil. Dante was familiar to those Florentines lani, who died about 1404. Gianozz who had never looked on the living Manetti, who died in 1459, also men. presence of their greatest citizen. tions it, and Vasari, in his life of Giotto,
On the altar-wall of the chapel of published in 1550, says, that Giotto the Palace of the Podestà (now the Bar * became so good an imitator of nature, gello) Giotto had painted a grand re- that he altogether discarded the stiff ligious composition, in which, after the Greek manner, and revived the moderr fashion of the times, he exalted the and good art of painting, introducing glory of Florence by the introduction exact drawing from nature of living of some of her most famous citizens persons, which for more than two hun. into the assembly of the blessed in dred years had not been practised, or Paradise. “The head of Christ, full if indeed any one had tried it, he had of dignity, appears above, and lower not succeeded very happily, nor anydown, the escutcheon of Florence, sup- thing like so well as Giotto. And he ported by angels, with two rows of portrayed among other persons, as may saints, male and female, attendant to even now be seen, in the chapel of the the right and left, in front of whom Palace of the Podestà in Florence, stand a company of the magnates of the Dante Alighieri, his contemporary and city, headed by two crowned person. greatest friend, who was not less faages, close to one of whom, to the mous a poet than Giotto was painter right, stands Dante, a pomegranate in in those days. . . . In the same chapel his hand, and wcaring the graceful fall. is the portrait by the same hand of Ser ing cap of the day. *** The date when Brunetto Latini, the master of Dante, this picture was painted is uncertain, and of Messer Corso Donati, a great but Giotto represented his friend in it citizen of those times." as a youth, such as he may have been One might have supposed that such in the first flush of early fame, at the a picture as this would have been season of the beginning of their memor- among the most carefully protected and able friendship.
jealously prized treasures of Florence. Of all the portraits of the revival of But such was not the case. The Art, there is none comparable in in- shameful neglect of many of the best teres: to this likeness of the supreme and most interesting works of the ear; poet by the supreme artist of mediæval lier period of Art, which accompanied Europe. It was due to no accident of and was one of the symptoms of the fortune that these men were contem- moral and political decline of Italy poraries, and of the same country; but it during the sixteenth and seventeenth Lord Lindsay's History of Christian Art, centuries, extended to this as to other
of the noblest paintings of Giotto.
Vol. II. p. 174
Florence, in losing consciousness of May 11, 1850, “the eye of the beautipresent worth, lost care for the me- ful profile was wanting. There was a morials of her past honour, dignity, and hole an inch deep, or an inch and a distinction. The Palace of the Po-half. Marini said it was a nail. It destà, no longer needed for the dwell- did seem precisely the damage of a nail ing of the chief magistrate of a free drawn out. Afterwards, .. Marini city, was turned into a jail for common filled the hole, and made a new eye, criminals, and what had once been its too little and ill designed, and then be beautiful and sacred chapel was occu- retouched the whole face and clothes, pied as a larder or store-room. The to the great damage of the expression walls, adorned with paintings more and character. The likeness of the precious than gold, were covered with face, and the three colours in which whitewash, and the fresco of Giotto Dante was dressed, the same with was swept over by the brush of the those of Beatrice, those of young Italy, plasterer. It was not only thus hidden white, green, and red, stand no more ; from the sight of those unworthy in- the green is turned to chocolate-colour; deed to behold it, but it almost disap- moreover, the form of the cap is lost and peared from memory also ; and from confounded. the time of Vasari down to that of “I desired to make a drawing. Moreni, a Florentine antiquary, in the It was denied to me. But I obearly part of the present century, hardly tained the means to be shut up in the a mention of it occurs. In a note prison for a morning; and not only found among his papers, Moreni la- did I make a drawing, but a tracing ments that he had spent two years of also, and with the two I then made a his life in unavailing efforts to recover fac-simile sufficiently careful. Luckily the portrait of Dante, and the other it was before the rifacimento." portions of the fresco of Giotto in the This fac-simile afterwards passed into Bargello, mentioned by Vasari ; that the hands of Lord Vernon, well known others before him had made a like for his interest in all Dantesque studies, effort, and had failed in like manner; and by his permission it has been admiand that he hoped that better times rably reproduced in chromo-lithography would come, in which this painting, under the auspices of the Arundel of such historic and artistic interest, Society. The reproduction is entirely would again be sought for, and at satisfactory as a presentation of the aulength recovered. Stimulated by these thentic portrait of the youthful Dante, words, three gentlemen, one an Ame in the state in which it was when Mr. rican, Mr. Richard Henry Wilde, one Kirkup was so fortunate as to gain adan Englishman, Mr. Seymour Kirkup, mission to it. and one an Italian, Signor G. Aubrey This portrait by Giotto is the only Bezzi, all scholars devoted to the study likeness of Dante known to have been of Dante, undertook new researches, made of the poet during his life, and is in 1840, and, after many hindrances of inestimable value on this account. on the part of the government, which But there exists also a mask, concernwere at length successfully overcome, ing which there is a tradition that it the work of removing the crust of was taken from the face of the dead plaster from the walls of the ancient poet, and which, if its genuineness chapel was intrusted to the Florentine could be established, would not be of painter, Mariri. This new and well- inferior interest to the early portrait. directed search did not fail. After But there is no trustworthy historic some months' labour the fresco was testimony concerning it, and its authofound, almost uninjured, under the rity as a likeness depends upon !he whitewash that had protected while evidence of truth which its own chaconcealing it, and at length the likeness racter affords. On the very threshold of of Dante was uncovered.
the inquiry concerning it, we are met “ But,” says Mr. Kirkup, in a letter with the doubt whether the art of taking published in the Spectator (London), casts was practised at the time of Daar's
death. In his Life of Andrea de Ver- of which have been judged by the rechio, Vasari says that this art began first Roman and Florentine sculptors to come into use in his time, that to have been taken from life, [that is, is, about the middle of the fifteenth from the face after death, ]- the slight century : and Bottari refers to the like- differences noticeable between them ness of Brunelleschi, who died in 1446, being such as might occur in casts which was taken in this manner, and made from the original mask.” One was preserved in the office of the Works of these casts was given to Mr. Kirkup of the Cathedral at Florence. It is not by the sculptor Bartolini, another beimpossible that so simple an art may longed to the late sculptor Professor have been sometimes practised at an Ricci, and the third is in the possession earlier period ; and if so, there is no of the Marchese Torrigiani. inherent improbability in the supposi, In the absence of historical evidence tion that Guido Novello, the friend in regard to this mask, some support is and protector of Dante at Ravenna, given to the belief in its genuineness by may, at the time of the poet's death, the fact that it appears to be the type of have had a mask taken to serve as a the greater number of the portraits of model for the head of a statue intended Dante executed from the fourteenth to to form part of the monument which the sixteenth century, and was adopted he proposed to erect in honour
of Dante. by Raffaelle as the original from which And it may further be supposed, that, he drew the likeness which has done this design failing, owing to the fall of most to make the features of the poet Guido from power before its accom- familiar to the world. plishment, the mask may have been The character of the mask itself af. preserved at Ravenna, till we first fords, however, the only really satisfaccatch a trace of it nearly three centuries tory ground for confidence in the truth
of the tradition concerning it. It was There is in the Mag.iabecchiana Li- plainly taken as a cast from a face after brary at Florence an autograph manu- death. It has none of the character. script by Giovanni Cinelli, à Florentine istics which a fictitious and imaginative antiquary who died in 1706, entitled representation of the sort would be la Toscana letterata, ovvero Istoria degli likely to present. It bears no trace of Scrittori Fiorentini, which contains a being a work of skilful and deceptive
In the course of the art. The difference in the fall of the biography Cinelli states that the Arch- two half-closed eyelids, the difference bishop of Ravenna caused the head between the sides of the face, the slight of the poet which had adorned his deflection in the line of the nose, the sepulchre to be taken therefrom, and droop of the corners of the mouth, and that it came into the possession of the other delicate, but none the less confamous sculptor, Gian Bologna, who vincing indications, combine to show left it at his death, in 1606, to his that it was in all probability taken di
“One day Tacca rectly from nature. The countenance, showed it, with other curiosities, to moreover, and expression, are worthy of the Duchess Sforza, who, having wrap. Dante ; no ideal forms could so answer
in a scarf of green cloth, carried to the face of him who had led a life apart it away, and God knows into whose from the world in which he dwelt, and bands the precious object has fallen, of had been conducted by love and faith
On ac-along hard, painful, and solitary ways, to count of its singular beauty, it had often behold been drawn by the scholars of Tacca." It has been supposed that this head
“L'alto trionfo del regno verace." was the original mask from which the
Mr. The 'mask conforms entirely to the in a note on this pas. description by Boccaccio of the poet's enge, from Cinelli, says that there are countenance, save that it is beardless, three masks of Dantes at Florence, ali anid this difference is to be accounted fcs
life of Dante.
pupil Pietro Tacca.
where it is to be found...
casts now existing Seymour Kirkup:
by the fact that to obtain the cast the exist between the portrait of a man 10 beard must have been reinoved.
the freshness of a happy youth, and tlie The face is one of the most pathetic portrait of him in his age, after much upon which human eyes ever looked, for experience and many trials. Dante was it exhibits in its expression the conflict fifty-six years old at the time of his between the strong nature of the man death, when the mask was taken ; the and the hard dealings of fortune, -be- portait by Giotto represents him as not tween the idea of his life and its prac- much past twenty. There is an interval tical experience. Strength is the most of at least thirty years between the two. striking attribute of the countenance, And what years they had been for displayed alike in the broad forehead, him! the masculine nose, the firm lips, the The interest of this comparison lies heavy jaw and wide chin ; and this not only in the mutual support which strength, resulting from the main forms the portraits afford each other, in the of the features, is enforced by the assurance each gives that the other is strength of the lines of expression. The genuine, but also in their joint illustra. look is grave and stern almost to grim- tion of the life and character of Dante. ness; there is a scornful lift to the eye. As Giotto painted him, he is the lover of brow, and a contraction of the forehead Beatrice, the gay companion of princes, as from painful thought ; but obscured the friend of poets, and himself already under this look, yet not lost, are the the most famous writer of love verses in marks of tenderness, refinement, and Italy. There is an almost feminine self-mastery, which, in combination with softness in the lines of the face, with a more obvious characteristics, give to the sweet and serious tenderness well be. countenance of the dead poet an inef- fitting the lover, and the author of the fable dignity and melancholy. There is sonnets and canzoni which were in a neither weakness nor failure here. It is few years to be gathered into the incomthe image of the strong fortress of a strong parable record of his New Life. It is soul “ buttressed on conscience and im- the face of Dante in the May-time of pregnable will," battered by the blows of youthful hope, in that serene season of enemies without and within, bearing upon promise and of joy, which was so soon its walls the dints of many a siege, but to reach its fore-ordained close in the standing firm and unshaken against all death of her who had made life new and attacks until the warfare was at end. beautiful for him, and to the love and
The intrinsic evidence for the truth of honour of whom he dedicated liis soul this likeness, from its correspondence, and gave all his future years. It is the not only with the description of the poet, same face with that of the mask ; but but with the imagination that we form of the one is the face of a youth, "with him from his life and works, is strongly all triumphant splendour on his brow," confirmed by a comparison of the mask the other of a man, burdened with the with the portrait by Giotto. So far as I dust and injury of age.” The forms am aware, this comparison has not and features are alike, but as to the hitherto been made in a manner 'to ex- later face, hibit effectively the resemblance between That time of year thou mayst in it behold the two. A direct comparison between When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang the painting and the mask, owing to the Upon those boughs which shake against the difficulty of reducing the forms of the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds latter to a plain surface of light and shade, is unsatisfactory. But by taking a photograph from the mask, in the
The face of the youth is grave, as same position as that in which the face with the shadow of distant sorrow; the is painted by Giotto, and placing it face of the man is solemn, as of one alongside of the fac-simile from the paint. who had gone ing, a very remarkable similarity be
“ Per tutti i cerchj del dolente regno. comes at once apparent . The differences are only such as must The one is the young poet of Flor.
BOCCACCIO'S ACCOUNT OF THE COMMEDIA.
ence, the other the supreme poet of the
But after five years or
more had world,
elapsed, and the city was more ration" che al divino dall' umano,
ally governed, it is said, than it was All' eterno dal tempo era venuto.'
when Dante was sentenced, persons began to question their rights, on dif
ferent grounds, to what had been the BOCCACCIO'S ACCOUNT OF
property of the exiles, and they were THE COMMEDIA.
heard. Therefore Madonna (emina Balbo, Life of Dante. Tr. by Mrs. Bunbury, II. was advised to demand back Dante's 61, 269, 290.
property, on the ground that it was her It should be known that Dante had dowry. She, to prepare this business, a sister, who was married to one of our required certain writings and documents citizens, called Leon Poggi, by whom which were in one of the chests, which, she had several children. Among these in the violent plunder of the effects she was one called Andrew, who wonder- had sent away, nor had she ever since fully resembled Dante in the outline of removed them from the place where she his features, and in his height and figure; had deposited them. For this purpose, and he also walked rather stooping, as this Andrew said, she had sent for him, Dante is said to have done. He was a and as Dante's nephew had entrusted weak man, but with naturally good feel him with the keys of these chests, and ings
, and his language and conduct were had sent him with a lawyer to search for regular and praiseworthy. And I having the required papers ; while the lawyer become intimate with him, he often searched for these, he, Andrew, among spoke to me of Dante's habits and ways; other of Dante's writings, found many but among those things which I delight sonnets, canzoni, and such similar pieces. most in recollecting, is what he told me But among them what pleased him the relating to that of which we are now most was a sheet in which, in Dante's speaking. He said then, that Dante handwriting, the seven preceding cantos belonged to the party of Messer Vieri were written ; and therefore he took it de Cerchi, and was one of its great and carried it off with him, and read it leaders; and when Messer Vieri and over and over again ; and although he many of his followers left Florence, understood but little of it, still it apDante left that city also and went to peared to him a very fine thing; and Verona. And on account of this depar- therefore he determined, in order to ture, through the solicitation of the op- know what it was, to carry it to an esposite party, Messer Vieri and all who teemed man of our city, who in those had left Florence, especially the prin- times was a much celebrated reciter of cipal persons, were considered as rebels
, verses, whose name was Dino, the son and had their persons condemned and of Messer Lambertuccio Frescobaldi. their property confiscated. When the
It pleased Dino marvellously; and people heard this, they ran to the houses having made copies of it for several of of those proscribed, and plundered all his friends, and knowing that the comthat was within them. It is true that position was merely begun, and not Dante's wife, Madonna Gemma, fearing completed, he thought that it would be this
, and by the advice of some of her best to send it to Dante, and at the friends and relations, had withdrawn same time to beg him to follow up his from his house some chests containing design, and to finish it ; and having in. certain precious things, and Dante's quired, and ascertained that Dante was writings along with them, and had put at this time in the Lunigiana, with a them in a place of satety. And not noble man of the family of Malaspina, satisfied with having plundered the called the Marquis Moroello, who was houses of the proscribed, the most pow. a man of understanding, and who had a ersul partisans of the opposite faction singular friendship for him, he thought occupied their possessions, --some taking of sending it, not to Dante himself
, but one and some another, and thus Dante's to the Marquis, in order that he shouK
show it to him ; and so Dino did, beg.
house iras occupied.