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- Pictures Every Child Should Know - 30/52 -
instructed with an affection which was rather that of a father to his children than merely of an artist to artists. From this it followed that he was never seen to go to court, except surrounded and accompanied, as he left his house, by some fifty painters, all men of ability and distinction, who attended him, thus to give evidence of the honour in which they held him. He did not, in short, live the life of a painter, but that of a prince.
There is something wonderfully inspiring about such a life. We read of emperors and the homage paid to them; of the esteem in which men who accomplish deeds of universal value are held, but nowhere do we behold the power of a beautiful and exquisite personality and character, allied with a single art, so impressively exhibited.
He urged nothing, yet won all things by the force of his loving and sympathetic mind. "How is it, dear Cesare that we live in such good friendship, but that in the art of painting we show no deference to each other?" he asked of Cesare da Sesto, who was Da Vinci's greatest pupil.
In discussing the great ones of the earth, Herman Grimm, son of the collector of fairy tales, says: "Can we mention a violent act of Raphael's, Goethe's or Shakespeare's? No, it is restful only to recall these wonderful men."
One of Raphael's most beautiful Virgins was modeled from a beautiful flower-girl whom he loved, "La Belle JardiniŠre."
Raphael as well as Michael Angelo was summoned by Pope Julius II., but how different were the two occasions! Michael Angelo had stood with dogged, gloomy self-assertiveness before the pope, head covered, knee unbent. Uncompromising, while yet no injury had been done him, resentful before he had received a single cause for resentment, the attitude was typical of his art and his unhappy life.
When Raphael appeared, his bent knee, his "chestnut locks falling upon his shoulders, the pope exclaimed: 'He is an innocent angel. I will give him Cardinal Bembo for a teacher, and he shall fill my walls with historical pictures.'" The artist's behaviour was no sign of servility, but the simple recognition of forms and customs which the people themselves had made and by which they had decided they should graciously be bound. The attitude of Angelo was not heroic but vulgar; that of Raphael not servile, but in good taste, showing a reasonable mind.
Pope Julius had summoned Raphael for a special reason. Alexander VI., his predecessor in the Vatican, had been a depraved man. The fair and virile Julius had a healthy sentiment against occupying rooms which must continually remind him of the notorious Alexander's mode of life. Some one suggested that he have all the portraits of the former pope removed, but Julius declared: "Even if the portraits were destroyed, the walls themselves would remind me of that Simoniac, that Jew!" The word 'Jew' was then execrated by all Christians, for the world was not yet Christian enough to know better.
Raphael was summoned to decorate the Vatican, that Julius might have a place which reminded him not at all of Alexander. It is said that when Raphael had completed one of his masterpieces the pope threw himself upon the ground and cried, "I thank Thee, God, that Thou hast sent me so great a painter!"
While at work upon his first fresco at the Vatican--"La Disputa," the dispute over the Holy Sacrament--Raphael met a woman with whom he fell deeply in love. Her father was a soda manufacturer and her name was Margherita. Missirini relates this incident in Raphael's career.
"She lived on the other side of the Tiber. A small house, No. 20, in the street of Santa Dorothea, the windows of which are decorated with a pretty frame work of earthenware, is pointed out as the house where she was born.
"The beautiful girl was very frequently in a little garden adjoining the house, where, the wall not being very high, it was easy to see her from the outside. So the young men, especially artists--always passionate admirers of beauty--did not fail to come and look at her, by climbing up above the wall.
"Raphael is said to have seen her for the first time as she was bathing her pretty feet in a little fountain in the garden. Struck by her perfect beauty, he fell deeply in love with her, and after having made acquaintance with her, and discovered that her mind was as beautiful as her body, he became so much attached as to be unable to live without her."
She is spoken of to-day as the "Fornarina," because at first she was supposed to have been the daughter of a baker (_fornajo_).
Raphael made many rough studies for his picture "La Disputa," and upon them he left three sonnets, written to the woman so dear to him. These sonnets have been translated by the librarian of l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, as follows: "Love, thou hast bound me with the light of two eyes which torment me, with a face like snow and roses, with sweet words and tender manners. So great is my ardour that no river or sea could extinguish my fire. But I do not complain, for my ardour makes me happy.... How sweet was the chain, how light the yoke of her white arms about my neck. When these bonds were loosed, I felt a mortal grief. I will say no more; a great joy kills, and, though my thoughts turn to thee, I will keep silence."
Although he had been a man of many loves, Raphael must have found in the manufacturer's daughter his best love, because he remained faithful and devoted to her for the twelve years of life that were left to him. It was said some years later, while he was engaged upon a commission for a rich banker, that "Raphael was so much occupied with the love that he bore to the lady of his choice that he could not give sufficient attention to his work. Agostino (the banker) therefore, falling at length into despair of seeing it finished, made so many efforts by means of friends and by his own care that after much difficulty he at length prevailed on the lady to take up her abode in his house, where she was accordingly installed, in apartments near those which Raphael was painting; In this manner the work was ultimately brought to a conclusion."
Raphael painted this beautiful lady-love many times, and in a picture in which she wears a bracelet he has placed his name upon the ornament.
After this time he painted the "Madonna della Casa d'Alba," which the Duchess d'Alba gave to her physician for curing her of a grave disorder. She died soon afterward, and the physician was arrested on the charge of having poisoned her. In course of time the picture was purchased for $70,000 by the Russian Emperor, and it is now in "The Hermitage," St. Petersburg.
A writer telling of that time, relates the following anecdote: "Raphael of Urbino had painted for Agostino Chigi (the rich banker already mentioned) at Santa Maria della Pace, some prophets and sibyls, on which he had received an advance of five hundred scudi. One day he demanded of Agostino's cashier (Giulio Borghesi) the remainder of the sum at which he estimated his work. The cashier, being astounded at this demand, and thinking that the sum already paid was sufficient, did not reply. 'Cause the work to be estimated by a judge of painting,' replied Raphael, 'and you will see how moderate my demand is.'
"Giulio Borghesi thought of Michael Angelo for this valuation, and begged him to go to the church and estimate the figures of Raphael. Possibly he imagined that self-love, rivalry, and jealousy would lead the Florentine to lower the price of the pictures.
"Michael Angelo went, accompanied by the cashier, to Santa Maria della Pace, and, as he was contemplating the fresco without uttering a word, Borghesi questioned him. 'That head,' replied Michael Angelo, pointing to one of the sibyls, 'that head is worth a hundred scudi.' ... 'and the others?' asked the cashier. 'The others are not less.'
"Someone who witnessed this scene related it to Chigi. He heard every particular and, offering in addition to the five hundred scudi for five heads a hundred scudi to be paid for each of the others, he said to his cashier, 'go and give that to Raphael in payment for his heads, and behave very politely to him, so that he may be satisfied; for if he insists on my paying also for the drapery, we should probably be ruined!'"
By the time Raphael was thirty-one he was a rich man, and had built himself a beautiful house near the Vatican, on the Via di Borgo Nuova. Naught remains of that dwelling except an angle of the right basement, which has been made a part of the Accoramboni Palace. His friends wished him above all things to marry, but he was still true to Margherita though he had become engaged to the daughter of his nephew. He put the marriage off year after year, till finally the lady he was to have married died, and was buried in Raphael's chapel in the Pantheon.
Margherita was with him when he died, and it was to her that he left much of his wealth.
In the time of Raphael excavations were being made about Rome, and many beautiful statues uncovered, and he was charged with the supervision of this work in order that no art treasure should be lost or overlooked. The pope decreed that if the excavators failed to acquaint Raphael with every stone and tablet that should he unearthed, they should be fined from one to three hundred gold crowns.
Raphael had his many paintings copied under his own eye and engraved, and then distributed broadcast, so that not only men of great wealth but the common people might study them.
Henry VIII. invited him to visit England, and become court painter, and Francis I. wished him to become the court painter of France.
He loved history, and wished to write certain historical works. He loved poetry and wrote it. He loved philosophy and lived it--the philosophy of generous feeling and kindly thought for all the world. He kept poor artists in his own home and provided for them.
Raphael died on Good Friday night, April 6th, in his thirty-seventh year, and all Rome wept. He lay in state in his beautiful home, with his unfinished picture of the "Transfiguration," as background for his catafalque. That painting with its colours still wet, was carried in the procession to his burial place in the Pantheon. When his death was announced, the pope, Leo X., wept and cried _"Ora pro nobis!"_ while the Ambassador from Mantua wrote home that "nothing is talked of here but the loss of the man who at the close of his six-and-thirtieth year has now ended his first life; his second, that of his posthumous fame, independent of death and transitory things, through his works, and in what the learned will write in his praise, must continue forever."
Raphael painted two hundred and eighty-seven pictures in his thirty-seven years of life.
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