Infomotions, Inc.Knights of the Art; stories of the Italian painters / Steedman, Amy

Author: Steedman, Amy
Title: Knights of the Art; stories of the Italian painters
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): filippo; florence; leonardo; painter; venice; fra angelico; fra diamante; fra filippo; filippo lippi; pictures; paint; painted
Contributor(s): Munguia, E. Jr. [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 48,363 words (really short) Grade range: 10-12 (high school) Readability score: 65 (easy)
Identifier: etext529
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Knights of the Art

by Amy Steedman

May, 1996  [Etext #529]

Project Gutenberg's Etext of Knights of the Art, by Amy Steedman
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What would we do without our picture-books,
I wonder? Before we knew how to read, before
even we could speak, we had learned to love them.
We shouted with pleasure when we turned the pages
and saw the spotted cow standing in the daisy-
sprinkled meadow, the foolish-looking old sheep with
her gambolling lambs, the wise dog with his friendly
eyes. They were all real friends to us.

Then a little later on, when we began to ask for
stories about the pictures, how we loved them more
and more. There was the little girl in the red cloak
talking to the great grey wolf with the wicked eyes;
the cottage with the bright pink roses climbing
round the lattice-window, out of which jumped a
little maid with golden hair, followed by the great
big bear, the middle-sized bear, and the tiny bear.
Truly those stories were a great joy to us, but we
would never have loved them quite so much if we
had not known their pictured faces as well.

Do you ever wonder how all these pictures came
to be made? They had a beginning, just as everything
else had, but the beginning goes so far back
that we can scarcely trace it.

Children have not always had picture-books to
look at. In the long-ago days such things were not
known. Thousands of years ago, far away in
Assyria, the Assyrian people learned to make
pictures and to carve them out in stone. In Egypt,
too, the Egyptians traced pictures upon the walls
of their temples and upon the painted mummy-
cases of the dead. Then the Greeks made still
more beautiful statues and pictures in marble, and
called them gods and goddesses, for all this was at
a time when the true God was forgotten.

Afterwards, when Christ had come and the people
had learned that the pictured gods were not real,
they began to think it wicked to make beautiful
pictures or carve marble statues. The few pictures
that were made were stiff and ugly, the figures were
not like real men and women, the animals and trees
were very strange-looking things. And instead of
making the sky blue as it really was, they made it
a chequered pattern of gold. After a time it seemed
as if the art of making pictures was going to die out

Then came the time which is called `The Renaissance,'
a word which means being born again, or a
new awakening, when men began to draw real
pictures of real things and fill the world with images
of beauty.

Now it is the stories of the men of that time, who
put new life into Art, that I am going to tell you--
men who learned, step by step, to paint the most
beautiful pictures that the world possesses.

In telling these stories I have been helped by an
old book called The Lives of the Painters, by
Giorgio Vasari, who was himself a painter. He
took great delight in gathering together all the
stories about these artists and writing them down
with loving care, so that he shows us real living
men, and not merely great names by which the
famous pictures are known.

It did not make much difference to us when we
were little children whether our pictures were good
or bad, as long as the colours were bright and we
knew what they meant. But as we grow older and
wiser our eyes grow wiser too, and we learn to know
what is good and what is poor. Only, just as our
tongues must be trained to speak, our hands to
work, and our ears to love good music, so our eyes
must be taught to see what is beautiful, or we may
perhaps pass it carelessly by, and lose a great joy
which might be ours.

So now if you learn something about these great
artists and their wonderful pictures, it will help your
eyes to grow wise. And some day should you visit
sunny Italy, where these men lived and worked,
you will feel that they are quite old friends. Their
pictures will not only be a delight to your eyes, but
will teach your heart something deeper and more
wonderful than any words can explain.
                              AMY STEEDMAN


GIOTTO,   .    .    .    BORN 1276,          DIED 1337 
FRA ANGELICO,  .    .    ''   1387,          ''   1466
MASACCIO, .    .    .    ''   1401,          ''   1428
FRA FILIPPO LIPPI,. .    ''   1412,          ''   1469
SANDRO BOTTICELLI,. .    ''   1446,          ''   1610
DOMENICO GHIRLANDAIO,    ''   1449,          ''   1494
FILIPPINO LIP  .    .    ''   1467,          ''   1604
PIETRO PERUGINO,    .    ''   1446,          ''   1624
LEONARDO DA VINCI,. .    ''   1462,          ''   1619
RAPHAEL,  .    .    .    ''   1483,          ''   1620
MICHELANGELO,  .    .    ''   1476,          ''   1664
ANDREA DEL SARTO,   .    ''   1487,          ''   1631
GIOVANNI BELLINI,   .    ''   1426,          ''   1616
VITTORE CARPACCIO,. .    ''   1470?          ''   1619
GIORGIONE,     .    .    ''   1477?          ''   1610
TITIAN,   .    .    .    ''   1477,          ''   1676
TINTORETTO,    .    .    ''   1662,          ''   1637
PAUL VERONESE, .    .    ''   1628,          ''   1688




`The tall angel in flowing white robes gently leads St. Peter
out of prison,'
          Church of the Carmine, Florence.

     `The little Baby Jesus sitting on His Mother's knee,' 
          Academia, Florence.

     `Two homely figures outside the narrow gateway,' 
          Sta. Maria Novella, Florence.

     `The gentle Virgin bending before the Angel messenger,'    
          S. Marco, Florence.

     `The Madonna in her robe of purest blue holding the Baby
     close in her arms,'
          Academia, Florence.

     `The Madonna with the dove fluttering near, and the Angel
     messenger bearing the lily branch,'
          Academia Florence.
     `His Madonnas grew ever more beautiful,'
          Academia, Florence.

               TOBIAS AND THE ANGEL.
     `His figures seemed to move as if to the rhythm of music,'  
          Academia, Florence.

     `The sad face of St. Peter looks out through the prison
          Church of the Carmine, Florence.

     `Beyond was the blue thread of river and the single trees
pointing upwards,'
          Sta. Maddalena de Pazzi, Florence.

     `Quiet dignified saints and spacious landscapes,' 
          Sta. Maddalena de Pazzi, Florence.

     `The kind strong hand of the saint is placed lovingly
beneath the little chin,' 
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `Giovanni's angels are little human boys with grave sweet
          Church of the Frari, Venice.

     `The little boy saint has folded his hands together and
looks upward in prayer,'  
          S. Giorgio Schiavari, Venice.

     `The little maid is all alone,' 
          Academia, Venice.

     `The little St. John with the skin thrown over his bare
shoulder and the cross in his hand,'
          Academia, Florence.


     `The shepherd sitting under his tent, with the sheep in
          Campanile, Florence.

     `His models were ordinary Florentine youths,'
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `The men of the market-place,' 
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `He loved to draw strange monsters,' 
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `Round-limbed rosy children, half human, half divine,' 
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `A terrible head of a furious old man,' 
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `A man in Venetian dress helping two women to mount one
of the niches of a marble palace,'
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

     `The head of a Venetian boy, such as Tintoretto met daily
among the fisher-folk of Venice,'
          Uffizi Gallery, Florence.


It was more than six hundred years ago that a little
peasant baby was born in the small village of
Vespignano, not far from the beautiful city of Florence,
in Italy. The baby's father, an honest, hard-working
countryman, was called Bondone, and the name
he gave to his little son was Giotto.

Life was rough and hard in that country home,
but the peasant baby grew into a strong, hardy boy,
learning early what cold and hunger meant. The
hills which surrounded the village were grey and
bare, save where the silver of the olive-trees shone
in the sunlight, or the tender green of the shooting
corn made the valley beautiful in early spring. In
summer there was little shade from the blazing sun
as it rode high in the blue sky, and the grass which
grew among the grey rocks was often burnt and
brown. But, nevertheless, it was here that the
sheep of the village would be turned out to find
what food they could, tended and watched by one
of the village boys.

So it happened that when Giotto was ten years
old his father sent him to take care of the sheep
upon the hillside. Country boys had then no
schools to go to or lessons to learn, and Giotto spent
long happy days, in sunshine and rain, as he followed
the sheep from place to place, wherever they could
find grass enough to feed on. But Giotto did something
else besides watching his sheep. Indeed, he
sometimes forgot all about them, and many a search
he had to gather them all together again. For
there was one thing he loved doing better than
all beside, and that was to try to draw pictures of
all the things he saw around him.

It was no easy matter for the little shepherd lad.
He had no pencils or paper, and he had never, perhaps,
seen a picture in all his life. But all this
mattered little to him. Out there, under the blue
sky, his eyes made pictures for him out of the fleecy
white clouds as they slowly changed from one form
to another. He learned to know exactly the shape
of every flower and how it grew; he noticed how
the olive-trees laid their silver leaves against the
blue background of the sky that peeped in between,
and how his sheep looked as they stooped to eat, or
lay down in the shadow of a rock.

Nothing escaped his keen, watchful eyes, and then
with eager hands he would sharpen a piece of stone,
choose out the smoothest rock, and try to draw on
its flat surface all those wonderful shapes which had
filled his eyes with their beauty. Olive-trees, flowers,
birds and beasts were there, but especially his sheep,
for they were his friends and companions who were
always near him, and he could draw them in a
different way each time they moved.

Now it fell out that one day a great master painter
from Florence came riding through the valley and
over the hills where Giotto was feeding his sheep.
The name of the great master was Cimabue, and he
was the most wonderful artist in the world, so men
said. He had painted a picture which had made all
Florence rejoice. The Florentines had never seen
anything like it before, and yet it was but a strange-
looking portrait of the Madonna and Child, scarcely
like a real woman or a real baby at all. Still, it
seemed to them a perfect wonder, and Cimabue was
honoured as one of the city's greatest men.

The road was lonely as it wound along. There
was nothing to be seen but waves of grey hills on
every side, so the stranger rode on, scarcely lifting
his eyes as he went. Then suddenly he came upon
a flock of sheep nibbling the scanty sunburnt grass,
and a little brown-faced shepherd-boy gave him a
cheerful `Good-day, master.'

There was something so bright and merry in the
boy's smile that the great man stopped and began to
talk to him. Then his eye fell upon the smooth flat
rock over which the boy had been bending, and he
started with surprise.

`Who did that?' he asked quickly, and he pointed
to the outline of a sheep scratched upon the stone.

`It is the picture of one of my sheep there,'
answered the boy, hanging his head with a shame-
faced look. `I drew it with this,' and he held out
towards the stranger the sharp stone he had been

`Who taught you to do this?' asked the master
as he looked more carefully at the lines drawn on
the rock.

The boy opened his eyes wide with astonishment
`Nobody taught me, master,' he said. `I only try
to draw the things that my eyes see.'

`How would you like to come with me to Florence
and learn to be a painter?' asked Cimabue, for he
saw that the boy had a wonderful power in his little
rough hands.

Giotto's cheeks flushed, and his eyes shone with

`Indeed, master, I would come most willingly,'
he cried, `if only my father will allow it.'

So back they went together to the village, but not
before Giotto had carefully put his sheep into the
fold, for he was never one to leave his work half

Bondone was amazed to see his boy in company
with such a grand stranger, but he was still more
surprised when he heard of the stranger's offer. It
seemed a golden chance, and he gladly gave his

Why, of course, the boy should go to Florence if
the gracious master would take him and teach him
to become a painter. The home would be lonely
without the boy who was so full of fun and as bright
as a sunbeam. But such chances were not to be met
with every day, and he was more than willing to let
him go.

So the master set out, and the boy Giotto went
with him to Florence to begin his training.

The studio where Cimabue worked was not at
all like those artists' rooms which we now call
studios. It was much more like a workshop, and
the boys who went there to learn how to draw and
paint were taught first how to grind and prepare
the colours and then to mix them. They were not
allowed to touch a brush or pencil for a long time,
but only to watch their master at work, and learn
all that they could from what they saw him do.

So there the boy Giotto worked and watched, but
when his turn came to use the brush, to the amazement
of all, his pictures were quite unlike anything
which had ever been painted before in the workshop.
Instead of copying the stiff, unreal figures,
he drew real people, real animals, and all the
things which he had learned to know so well on
the grey hillside, when he watched his father's
sheep. Other artists had painted the Madonna and
Infant Christ, but Giotto painted a mother and a

And before long this worked such a wonderful
change that it seemed indeed as if the art of making
pictures had been born again. To us his work still
looks stiff and strange, but in it was the beginning
of all the beautiful pictures that belong to us now.

Giotto did not only paint pictures, he worked in
marble as well. To-day, if you walk through
Florence, the City of Flowers, you will still see its
fairest flower of all, the tall white campanile or bell-
tower, `Giotto's tower' as it is called. There it
stands in all its grace and loveliness like a tall white
lily against the blue sky, pointing ever upward, in
the grand old faith of the shepherd-boy. Day after
day it calls to prayer and to good works, as it has
done all these hundreds of years since Giotto
designed and helped to build it.

Some people call his pictures stiff and ugly, for
not every one has wise eyes to see their beauty, but
the loveliness of this tower can easily be seen by all.
`There the white doves circle round and round, and
rest in the sheltering niches of the delicately carved
arches; there at the call of its bell the black-robed
Brothers of Pity hurry past to their works of mercy.
There too the little children play, and sometimes
stop to stare at the marble pictures, set in the first
story of the tower, low enough to be seen from
the street. Their special favourite is perhaps the
picture of the shepherd sitting under his tent, with
the sheep in front, and with the funniest little dog
keeping watch at the side.

Giotto always had a great love for animals, and
whenever it was possible he would squeeze one into
a corner of his pictures. He was sixty years old
when he designed this wonderful tower and cut
some of the marble pictures with his own hand,
but you can see that the memory of those old days
when he ran barefoot about the hills and tended his
sheep was with him still. Just such another little
puppy must have often played with him in those
long-ago days before he became a great painter and
was still only a merry, brown-faced boy, making
pictures with a sharp stone upon the smooth rocks.

Up and down the narrow streets of Florence now,
the great painter would walk and watch the faces
of the people as they passed. And his eyes would
still make pictures of them and their busy life, just
as they used to do with the olive-trees, the sheep,
and the clouds.

In those days nobody cared to have pictures in
their houses, and only the walls of the churches
were painted. So the pictures, or frescoes, as they
were called, were of course all about sacred subjects,
either stories out of the Bible or of the lives of the
saints. And as there were few books, and the poor
people did not know how to read, these frescoed
walls were the only story-books they had.

What a joy those pictures of Giotto's must have
been, then, to those poor folk! They looked at the
little Baby Jesus sitting on His mother's knee,
wrapped in swaddling bands, just like one of their
own little ones, and it made Him seem a very real
baby. The wise men who talked together and
pointed to the shining star overhead looked just
like any of the great nobles of Florence. And
there at the back were the two horses looking on
with wise interested eyes, just as any of their own
horses might have done.

It seemed to make the story of Christmas a thing
which had really happened, instead of a far-away
tale which had little meaning for them. Heaven
and the Madonna were not so far off after all. And
it comforted them to think that the Madonna had
been a real woman like themselves, and that the
Jesu Bambino would stoop to bless them still, just
as He leaned forward to bless the wise men in the

How real too would seem the old story of the
meeting of Anna and Joachim at the Golden Gate,
when they could gaze upon the two homely figures
under the narrow gateway. No visionary saints 
these, but just a simple husband and wife, meeting
each other with joy after a sad separation, and yet
with the touch of heavenly meaning shown by the
angel who hovers above and places a hand upon
each head.

It was not only in Florence that Giotto did his
work. His fame spread far and wide, and he went
from town to town eagerly welcomed by all. We
can trace his footsteps as he went, by those
wonderful old pictures which he spread with loving care
over the bare walls of the churches, lifting, as it
were, the curtain that hides Heaven from our view
and bringing some of its joys to earth.

Then, at Assisi, he covered the walls and ceiling
of the church with the wonderful frescoes of the
life of St. Francis; and the little round commonplace
Arena Chapel of Padua is made exquisite
inside by his pictures of the life of our Lord.

In the days when Giotto lived the towns of Italy
were continually quarrelling with one another, and
there was always fighting going on somewhere.
The cities were built with a wall all round them,
and the gates were shut each night to keep out
their enemies. But often the fighting was between
different families inside the city, and the grim old
palaces in the narrow streets were built tall and
strong that they might be the more easily defended.

In the midst of all this war and quarrelling Giotto
lived his quiet, peaceful life, the friend of every one
and the enemy of none. Rival towns sent for him
to paint their churches with his heavenly pictures,
and the people who hated Florence forgot that he
was a Florentine. He was just Giotto, and he
belonged to them all. His brush was the white flag of
truce which made men forget their strife and angry
passions, and turned their thoughts to holier things.

Even the great poet Dante did not scorn to be a
friend of the peasant painter, and we still have the
portrait which Giotto painted of him in an old fresco
at Florence. Later on, when the great poet was a
poor unhappy exile, Giotto met him again at Padua
and helped to cheer some of those sad grey days,
made so bitter by strife and injustice.

Now when Giotto was beginning to grow famous,
it happened that the Pope was anxious to have the
walls of the great Cathedral of St. Peter at Rome
decorated. So he sent messengers all over Italy to
find out who were the best painters, that he might
invite them to come and do the work.

The messengers went from town to town and
asked every artist for a specimen of his painting.
This was gladly given, for it was counted a great
honour to help to make St. Peter's beautiful.

By and by the messengers came to Giotto and
told him their errand. The Pope, they said, wished
to see one of his drawings to judge if he was fit for
the great work. Giotto, who was always most
courteous, `took a sheet of paper and a pencil
dipped in a red colour, then, resting his elbow on
his side, with one turn of the hand, he drew a circle
so perfect and exact that it was a marvel to behold.'
`Here is your drawing,' he said to the messenger,
with a smile, handing him the drawing.

`Am I to have nothing more than this?' asked
the man, staring at the red circle in astonishment
and disgust.

`That is enough and to spare,' answered Giotto.
`Send it with the rest.'

The messengers thought this must all be a joke.

`How foolish we shall look if we take only a
round O to show his Holiness,' they said.

But they could get nothing else from Giotto, so
they were obliged to be content and to send it with
the other drawings, taking care to explain just how
it was done.

The Pope and his advisers looked carefully over
all the drawings, and, when they came to that round
O, they knew that only a master-hand could have
made such a perfect circle without the help of a
compass. Without a moment's hesitation they
decided that Giotto was the man they wanted, and
they at once invited him to come to Rome to
decorate the cathedral walls. So when the story
was known the people became prouder than ever of
their great painter, and the round O of Giotto has
become a proverb to this day in Tuscany.

     `Round as the O of Giotto, d' ye see;
     Which means as well done as a thing can be.'

Later on, when Giotto was at Naples, he was
painting in the palace chapel one very hot day, when the
king came in to watch him at his work. It really
was almost too hot to move, and yet Giotto painted
away busily.

`Giotto,' said the king, `if I were in thy place I
would give up painting for a while and take my
rest, now that it is so hot.'

`And, indeed, so I would most certainly do,'
answered Giotto, `if I were in your place, your

It was these quick answers and his merry smile
that charmed every one, and made the painter a
favourite with rich and poor alike.

There are a great many stories told of him, and they
all show what a sunny-tempered, kindly man he was.

It is said that one day he was standing in one of
the narrow streets of Florence talking very earnestly
to a friend, when a pig came running down the road
in a great hurry. It did not stop to look where it
was going, but ran right between the painter's legs
and knocked him flat on his back, putting an end to
his learned talk.

Giotto scrambled to his feet with a rueful smile,
and shook his finger at the pig which was fast
disappearing in the distance.

`Ah, well!' he said, `I suppose thou hadst as
much right to the road as I had. Besides, how
many gold pieces I have earned by the help of thy
bristles, and never have I given any of thy family
even a drop of soup in payment.'

Another time he went riding with a very learned
lawyer into the country to look after his property.
For when Bondone died, he left all his fields and his
farm to his painter son. Very soon a storm came on,
and the rain poured down as if it never meant to stop.

`Let us seek shelter in this farmhouse and borrow
a cloak,' suggested Giotto.

So they went in and borrowed two old cloaks
from the farmer, and wrapped themselves up from
head to foot. Then they mounted their horses and
rode back together to Florence.

Presently the lawyer turned to look at Giotto, and
immediately burst into a loud laugh. The rain was
running from the painter's cap, he was splashed with
mud, and the old cloak made him look like a very
forlorn beggar.

`Dost think if any one met thee now, they would
believe that thou art the best painter in the
world?' laughed the lawyer.

Giotto's eyes twinkled as he looked at the funny
figure riding beside him, for the lawyer was very
small, and had a crooked back, and rolled up in the
old cloak he looked like a bundle of rags.

`Yes!' he answered quickly, `any one would
certainly believe I was a great painter, if he could
but first persuade himself that thou dost know
thy A B C.'

In all these stories we catch glimpses of the good-
natured kindly painter, with his love of jokes, and
his own ready answers, and all the time we must
remember that he was filling the world with beauty,
which it still treasures to-day, helping to sow the
seeds of that great tree of Art which was to blossom
so gloriously in later years.

And when he had finished his earthly work it
was in his own cathedral, `St. Mary of the Flowers,'
that they laid him to rest, while the people mourned
him as a good friend as well as a great painter.
There he lies in the shadow of his lily tower, whose
slender grace and delicate-tinted marbles keep his
memory ever fresh in his beautiful city of Florence.


Nearly a hundred years had passed by since Giotto
lived and worked in Florence, and in the same hilly
country where he used to tend his sheep another
great painter was born.

Many other artists had come and gone, and had
added their golden links of beauty to the chain of
Art which bound these years together. Some day
you will learn to know all their names and what
they did. But now we will only single out, here
and there, a few of those names which are perhaps
greater than the rest. Just as on a clear night,
when we look up into the starlit sky, it would
bewilder us to try and remember all the stars, so
we learn first to know those that are most easily
recognised--the Plough, or the Great Bear, as they
shine with a clear steady light against the background
of a thousand lesser stars.

The name by which this second great painter is
known is Fra Angelico, but that was only the name
he earned in later years. His baby name was
Guido, and his home was in a village close to where
Giotto was born.

He was not a poor boy, and did not need to
work in the fields or tend the sheep on the hillside.
Indeed, he might have soon become rich and
famous, for his wonderful talent for painting would
have quickly brought him honours and wealth if he
had gone out into the world. But instead of this,
when he was a young man of twenty he made up
his mind to enter the convent at Fiesole, and to
become a monk of the Order of Saint Dominic.

Every brother, or frate, as he is called, who leaves
the world and enters the life of the convent is given
a new name, and his old name is never used again.
So young Guido was called Fra Giovanni, or
Brother John. But it is not by that name that
he is known best, but that of Fra Angelico, or the
angelic brother--a name which was given him afterwards
because of his pure and beautiful life, and the
heavenly pictures which he painted.

With all his great gifts in his hands, with all the
years of youth and pleasure stretching out green
and fair before him, he said good-bye to earthly
joys, and chose rather to serve his Master Christ in
the way he thought was right.

The monks of St. Dominic were the great
preachers of those days--men who tried to make
the world better by telling people what they ought
to do, and teaching them how to live honest and
good lives. But there are other ways of teaching
people besides preaching, and the young monk who
spent his time bending over the illuminated prayer-
book, seeing with his dreamy eyes visions of saints
and white-robed angels, was preparing to be a
greater teacher than them all. The words of the
preacher monks have passed away, and the world
pays little heed to them now, but the teaching of
Fra Angelico, the silent lessons of his wonderful
pictures, are as fresh and clear to-day as they were
in those far-off years.

Great trouble was in store for the monks of
the little convent at Fiesole, which Fra Angelico
and his brother Benedetto had entered. Fierce
struggles were going on in Italy between different
religious parties, and at one time the little band
of preaching monks were obliged to leave their
peaceful home at Fiesole to seek shelter in other
towns. But, as it turned out, this was good fortune
for the young painter-monk, for in those hill towns
of Umbria where the brothers sought refuge there
were pictures to be studied which delighted his
eyes with their beauty, and taught him many a
lesson which he could never have learned on the
quiet slopes of Fiesole.

The hill towns of Italy are very much the same
to-day as they were in those days. Long winding
roads lead upwards from the plain below to the
city gates, and there on the summit of the hill the
little town is built. The tall white houses cluster
close together, and the overhanging eaves seem
almost to meet across the narrow paved streets, and
always there is the great square, with the church
the centre of all.

It would be almost a day's journey to follow the
white road that leads down from Perugia across
the plain to the little hill town of Assisi, and many
a spring morning saw the painter-monk setting
out on the convent donkey before sunrise and
returning when the sun had set. He would thread
his way up between the olive-trees until he reached
the city gates, and pass into the little town without
hindrance. For the followers of St. Francis in their
brown robes would be glad to welcome a stranger
monk, though his black robe showed that he
belonged to a different order. Any one who came
to see the glory of their city, the church where
their saint lay, which Giotto had covered with his
wonderful pictures, was never refused admittance.

How often then must Fra Angelico have knelt
in the dim light of that lower church of Assisi,
learning his lesson on his knees, as was ever his
habit. Then home again he would wend his way,
his eyes filled with visions of those beautiful
pictures, and his hand longing for the pencil and brush,
that he might add new beauty to his own work from
what he had learned.

Several years passed by, and at last the brothers
were allowed to return to their convent home of
San Dominico at Fiesole, and there they lived
peaceably for a long time. We cannot tell exactly
what pictures our painter-monk painted during
those peaceful years, but we know he must have
been looking out with wise, seeing eyes, drinking in
all the beauty that was spread around him.

At his feet lay Florence, with its towers and
palaces, the Arno running through it like a silver
thread, and beyond, the purple of the Tuscan hills.
All around on the sheltered hillside were green
vines and fruit-trees, olives and cypresses, fields
flaming in spring with scarlet anemones or golden
with great yellow tulips, and hedges of rose-bushes
covered with clusters of pink blossoms. No wonder,
then, such beauty sunk into his heart, and we see
in his pictures the pure fresh colour of the spring
flowers, with no shadow of dark or evil things.

Soon the fame of the painter began to be whispered
outside the convent walls, and reached the ears of
Cosimo da Medici, one of the powerful rulers of
Florence. He offered the monks a new home, and,
when they were settled in the convent of San Marco
in Florence, he invited Fra Angelico to fresco the

One by one the heavenly pictures were painted
upon the walls of the cells and cloister of the new
home. How the brothers must have crowded round
to see each new fresco as it was finished, and how
anxious they would be to see which picture was to
be near their own particular bed. In all the
frescoes, whether he painted the gentle Virgin
bending before the angel messenger, or tried to
show the glory of the ascended Lord, the artist-
monk would always introduce one or more of the
convent's special saints, which made the brothers
feel that the pictures were their very own. Fra
Angelico had a kind word and smile for all the
brothers. He was never impatient, and no one
ever saw him angry, for he was as humble and
gentle as the saints whose pictures he loved to

It is told of him, too, that he never took a brush
or pencil in his hand without a prayer that his work
might be to the glory of God. Often when he
painted the sufferings of our Lord, the tears would
be seen running down his cheeks and almost blinding
his eyes.

There is an old legend which tells of a certain
monk who, when he was busily illuminating a page
of his missal, was called away to do some service
for the poor. He went unwillingly, the legend
says, for he longed to put the last touches to the
holy picture he was painting; but when he returned,
lo! he found his work finished by angel hands.

Often when we look at some of Fra Angelico's
pictures we are reminded of this legend, and feel
that he too might have been helped by those same
angel hands. Did they indeed touch his eyes that
he might catch glimpses of a Heaven where saints
were swinging their golden censers, and white-robed
angels danced in the flowery meadows of Paradise?
We cannot tell; but this we know, that no other
painter has ever shown us such a glory of heavenly

Best of all, the angel-painter loved to paint
pictures of the life of our Lord; and in the picture
I have shown you, you will see the tender care with
which he has drawn the head of the Infant Jesus
with His little golden halo, the Madonna in her
robe of purest blue, holding the Baby close in her
arms, St. Joseph the guardian walking at the side,
and all around the flowers and trees which he loved
so well in the quiet home of Fiesole.

He did not care for fame or power, this dreamy
painter of angels, and when the Pope invited him to
Rome to paint the walls of a chapel there, he
thought no more of the glory and honour than if he
was but called upon to paint another cell at
San Marco.

But when the Pope had seen what this quiet monk
could do, he called the artist to him.

`A man who can paint such pictures,' he said,
`must be a good man, and one who will do well
whatever he undertakes. Will you, then, do other
work for me, and become my Archbishop at
Florence?' But the painter was startled and dismayed.

`I cannot teach or preach or govern men,' he
said, `I can but use my gift of painting for the
glory of God. Let me rather be as I am, for it is
safer to obey than to rule.'

But though he would not take this honour
himself, he told the Pope of a friend of his, a humble
brother, Fra Antonino, at the convent of San Marco,
who was well fitted to do the work. So the Pope
took the painter's advice, and the choice was so
wise and good, that to this day the Florentine people
talk lovingly of their good bishop Antonino.

It was while he was at work in Rome that Fra
Angelico died, so his body does not rest in his own
beloved Florence. But if his body lies in Rome,
his gentle spirit still seems to hover around the old
convent of San Marco, and there we learn to know
and love him best. Little wonder that in after
ages they looked upon him almost as a saint, and
gave him the title of `Beato,' or the blessed angel-


It must have been about the same time when Fra
Angelico was covering the walls of San Marco with
his angel pictures, that a very different kind of
painter was working in the Carmine church in

This was no gentle, refined monk, but just an
ordinary man of the world--an awkward, good-
natured person, who, as long as he had pictures
to paint, cared for little else. Why, he would even
forget to ask for payment when his work was done;
and as to taking care of his clothes, or trying to
keep himself tidy, that was a thing he never thought

What trouble his mother must have had with
him when he was a boy! It was no use sending
him on an errand, he would forget it before he had
gone a hundred yards, and he was so careless and
untidy that it was enough to make any one lose
patience with him. But only let him have a pencil
and a smooth surface on which to draw, and he was
a different boy.

It is said that even now, in the little town of
Castello San Giovanni, some eighteen miles from
Florence, where Tommaso was born, there are still
some wonderfully good figures to be seen, drawn
by him when he was quite a little boy. Certainly
there was no carelessness and nothing untidy about
his work.

As the boy grew older all his longings would
turn towards Florence, the beautiful city where
there was everything to learn and to see, and so he
was sent to become a pupil in the studio of Masolino,
a great Florentine painter. But though his drawings
improved, his careless habits continued the

`There goes Tommaso the painter,' the people
would say, watching the big awkward figure passing
through the streets on his way to work. `Truly
he pays but little heed to his appearance. Look
but at his untidy hair and the holes in his boots.'

`Ay, indeed!' another would answer; `and yet
it is said if only people paid him all they owed he
would have gold enough and to spare. But what
cares he so long as he has his paints and brushes?
``Masaccio'' would be a fitter name for him than

So the name Masaccio, or Ugly Tom, came to
be that by which the big awkward painter was
known. But no one thinks of the unkind meaning
of the nickname now, for Masaccio is honoured as
one of the great names in the history of Art.

This painter, careless of many things, cared with
all his heart and soul for the work he had chosen
to do. It seemed to him that painters had always
failed to make their pictures like living things.
The pictures they painted were flat, not round as
a figure should be, and very often the feet did not
look as if they were standing on the ground at all,
but pointed downwards as if they were hanging in
the air.

So he worked with light and shadow and careful
drawing until the figures he drew looked rounded
instead of flat, and their feet were planted firmly
on the ground. His models were taken from the
ordinary Florentine youths whom he saw daily in
the studio, but he drew them as no one had drawn
figures before. The buildings, too, he made to look
like real houses leading away into the distance, and
not just like a flat picture.

He painted many frescoes both in Florence and
Rome, this Ugly Tom, but at the time the people
did not pay him much honour, for they thought him
just a great awkward fellow with his head always
in the clouds. Perhaps if he had lived longer fame
and wealth would have come to him, but he died
when he was still a young man, and only a few
realised how great he was.

But in after years, one by one, all the great
artists would come to that little chapel of the
Carmine there to learn their first lessons from those
life-like figures. Especially they would stand before
the fresco which shows St. Peter baptizing a crowd
of people. And in that fresco they would study
more than all the figure of a boy who has just come
out of the water, shivering with cold, the most
natural figure that had ever been painted up to that

All things must be learnt little by little, and
each new thing we know is a step onwards. So
this figure of the shivering boy marks a higher step
of the golden ladder of Art than any that had
been touched before. And this alone would have
made the name of Masaccio worthy to be placed
upon the list of world's great painters.


It was winter time in Florence. The tramontana,
that keen wind which blows from over the snow
mountains, was sweeping down the narrow streets,
searching out every nook and corner with its icy
breath. Men flung their cloaks closer round them,
and pulled their hats down over their eyes, so that
only the tips of their noses were left uncovered for
the wind to freeze. Women held their scaldinoes,
little pots of hot charcoal, closer under their shawls,
and even the dogs had a sad, half-frozen look.
One and all longed for the warm winds of spring
and the summer heat they loved. It was bad
enough for those who had warm clothes and plenty
of polenta, but for the poor life was very hard those
cold wintry days.

In a doorway of a great house, in one of the narrow
streets, a little boy of eight was crouching behind
one of the stone pillars as he tried to keep out of
the grip of the tramontana. His little coat was
folded closely round him, but it was full of rents and
holes so that the thin body inside was scarcely
covered, and the child's blue lips trembled with the
cold, and his black eyes filled with tears.

It was not often that Filippo turned such a sad
little face to meet the world. Usually those black 
eyes sparkled with fun and mischief, and the mouth
spread itself into a merry grin. But to-day, truly
things were worse than he ever remembered them
before, and he could remember fairly bad times, too,
if he tried.

Other children had their fathers and mothers who
gave them food and clothes, but he seemed to be
quite different, and never had had any one to care
for him. True, there was his aunt, old Mona
Lapaccia, who said he had once had a father and
mother like other boys, but she always added with
a mournful shake of her head that she alone had
endured all the trouble and worry of bringing him
up since he was two years old. `Ah,' she would
say, turning her eyes upwards, `the saints alone
know what I have endured with a great hungry
boy to feed and clothe.'

It seemed to Filippo that in that case the saints
must also know how very little he had to eat, and
how cold he was on these wintry days. But of
course they would be too grand to care about a
little boy.

In summer things were different. One could
roll merrily about in the sunshine all day long, and
at night sleep in some cool sheltering corner of the
street. And then, too, there was always a better
chance of picking up something to eat. Plenty of
fig skins and melon parings were flung carelessly out
into the street when fruit was plentiful, and people
would often throw away the remains of a bunch
of grapes. It was wonderful how quickly Filippo
learned to know people's faces, and to guess who
would finish to the last grape and who would throw
the smaller ones away. Some would even smile as
they caught his anxious, waiting eye fixed on the
fruit, and would cry `Catch' as they threw a goodly
bunch into those small brown hands that never let
anything slip through their fingers.

Oh, yes, summer was all right, but there was always
winter to face. To-day he was so very hungry, and
the lupin skins which he had collected for his breakfast
were all eaten long ago. He had hung about
the little open shops, sniffing up the delicious smell
of fried polenta, but no one had given him a morsel.
All he had got was a stern `be off' when he ventured
too close to the tempting food. If only this day
had been a festa, he might have done well enough.
For in the great processions when the priests and
people carried their lighted candles round the church,
he could always dart in and out with his little iron
scraper, lift the melted wax of the marble floor and
sell it over again to the candlemakers.

But there were no processions to-day, and there
remained only one thing to be done. He must go
home and see if Mona Lapaccia had anything to
spare. Perhaps the saints took notice when he was

Down the street he ran, keeping close to the wall,
just as the dogs do when it rains. For the great
overhanging eaves of the houses act as a sheltering
umbrella. Then out into the broad street that runs
beside the river, where, even in winter, the sun shines
warmly if it shines anywhere.

Filippo paused at the corner of the Ponte alla
Carraja to watch the struggles of a poor mule which
was trying to pull a huge cartload of wood up the
steep incline of the bridge. It was so exciting that
for a moment he forgot how cold and hungry he was,
as he shouted and screamed directions with the rest
of the crowd, darted in and out in his eagerness to
help, and only got into every one's way.

That excitement over, Filippo felt in better spirits
and ran quickly across the bridge. He soon threaded
his way to a poor street that led towards one of the
city gates, where everything looked dirtier and more
cheerless than ever. He had not expected a welcome,
and he certainly did not get one, as, after climbing
the steep stairs, he cautiously pushed open the door
and peeped in.

His aunt's thin face looked dark and angry. Poor
soul, she had had no breakfast either, and there would
be no food that day unless her work was finished.
And here was this troublesome boy back again, when
she thought she had got rid of him for the day

`Away!' she shouted crossly. `What dost thou
mean by coming back so soon? Away, and seek thy
living in the streets.'

`It is too cold,' said the boy, creeping into the bare
room, `and I am hungry.'

`Hungry!' and poor Mona Lapaccia cast her eyes
upwards, as if she would ask the saints if they too
were not filled with surprise to hear this word. `And
when art thou anything else? It is ever the same
story with thee: eat, eat, eat. Now, the saints help
me, I have borne this burden long enough. I will
see if I cannot shift it on to other shoulders.'

She rose as she spoke, tied her yellow handkerchief
over her head and smoothed out her apron. Then
she caught Filippo by his shoulder and gave him a
good shake, just to teach him how wrong it was to
talk of being hungry, and pushing him in front of her
they went downstairs together.

`Where art thou going?' gasped the boy as she
dragged him swiftly along the street.

`Wait and thou shalt see,' she answered shortly;
`and do thou mind thy manners, else will I mind
them for thee.'

Filippo ran along a little quicker on hearing this
advice. He had but a dim notion of what minding
his manners might mean, but he guessed fairly well
what would happen if his aunt minded them. Ah!
here they were at the great square of the Carmine.
He had often crept into the church to get warm and
to see those wonderful pictures on the walls. Could
they be going there now?

But it was towards the convent door that Mona
Lapaccia bent her steps, and, when she had rung the
bell, she gave Filippo's shoulder a final shake, and
pulled his coat straight and smoothed his hair.

A fat, good-natured brother let them in, and led
them through the many passages into a room where
the prior sat finishing his midday meal.

Filippo's hungry eyes were immediately fixed on
a piece of bread which lay upon the table, and
the kindly prior smiled as he nodded his head
towards it.

Not another invitation did Filippo need; like a
bird he darted forward and snatched the piece of
good white bread, and holding it in both hands he
began to munch to his heart's content. How long
it was since he had tasted anything like this! It
was so delicious that for a few blissful moments he
forgot where he was, forgot his aunt and the great
man who was looking at him with such kind eyes.

But presently he heard his own name spoken
and then he looked up and remembered. `And
so, Filippo, thou wouldst become a monk?' the prior
was saying. `Let me see--how old art thou?'

`Eight years old, your reverence,' said Mona
Lapaccia before Filippo could answer. Which was
just as well, as his mouth was still very full.

`And it is thy desire to leave the world, and
enter our convent?' continued the prior. `Art
thou willing to give up all, that thou mayest
become a servant of God?'

The little dirty brown hands clutched the bread
in dismay. Did the kind man mean that he was to
give up his bread when he had scarcely eaten half
of it?

`No, no; eat thy bread, child,' said the prior, with
an understanding nod. `Thou art but a babe, but we
will make a good monk of thee yet.'

Then, indeed, began happy days for Filippo. No
more threadbare coats, but a warm little brown
serge robe, tied round the waist with a rope whose
ends grew daily shorter as the way round his waist
grew longer. No more lupin skins and whiffs of
fried polenta, but food enough and to spare; such
food as he had not dreamt of before, and always as
much as he could eat.

Filippo was as happy as the day was long. He
had always been a merry little soul even when life
had been hard and food scarce, and now he would
not have changed his lot with the saints in Paradise.

But the good brothers began to think it was time
Filippo should do something besides play and

`Let us see what the child is fit for,' they said.

So Filippo was called in to sit on the bench with
the boys and learn his A B C. That was dreadfully
dull work. He could never remember the names of
those queer signs. Their shapes he knew quite
well, and he could draw them carefully in his copy-
book, but their names were too much for him. And
as to the Latin which the good monks tried to
teach him, they might as well have tried to teach a

All the brightness faded from Filippo's face the
moment a book was put before him, and he looked
so dull and stupid that the brothers were in despair.
Then for a little things seemed to improve. Filippo
suddenly lost his stupid look as he bent over the
pages, and his eyes were bright with interest.

`Aha!' said one brother nudging the other, `the
boy has found his brains at last.'

But great indeed was their wrath and disappointment
when they looked over his shoulder. Instead
of learning his lessons, Filippo had been making all
sorts of queer drawings round the margin of the
page. The A's and B's had noses and eyes, and
looked out with little grinning faces. The long
music notes had legs and arms and were dancing
about like little black imps. Everything was
scribbled over with the naughty little figures.

This was really too much, and Filippo must be
taken at once before the prior.

`What, in disgrace again?' asked the kindly old
man. `What has the child done now?'

`We can teach him nothing,' said the brother,
shaking a severe finger at Filippo, who hung his
head. `He cannot even learn his A B C. And
besides, he spoils his books, ay, and even the walls
and benches, by drawing such things as these upon
them.' And the indignant monk held out the book
where all those naughty figures were dancing over
the page.

The prior took the book and looked at it closely.

`What makes thee do these things?' he asked
the boy, who stood first on one foot and then on the
other, twisting his rope in his fingers.

At the sound of the kind voice, the boy looked
up, and his face broke into a smile.

`Indeed, I cannot help it, Father,' he said. `It is
the fault of these,' and he spread out his ten little
brown fingers.

The prior laughed.

`Well,' he said, `we will not turn thee out, though
they do say thou wilt never make a monk. Perhaps
we may teach these ten little rascals to do good
work, even if we cannot put learning into that
round head of thine.'

So instead of books and Latin lessons, the good
monks tried a different plan. Filippo was given as
a pupil to good Brother Anselmo, whose work it was 
to draw the delicate pictures and letters for the
convent prayer-books.

This was a different kind of lesson, indeed.
Filippo's eyes shone with eagerness as he bent over
his work and tried to copy the beautiful lines and
curves which the master set for him.

There were other boys in the class as well, and
Filippo looked at their work with great admiration.
One boy especially, who was bigger than Filippo,
and who had a kind merry face, made such beautiful
copies that Filippo always tried to sit next him if
possible. Very soon the boys became great friends.

Diamante, as the elder boy was called, was
pleased to be admired so much by the little new
pupil; but as time went on, his pride in his own
work grew less as he saw with amazement how
quickly Filippo's little brown fingers learned to
draw straighter lines and more beautiful curves than
any he could manage. Brother Anselmo, too, would
watch the boy at work, and his saintly old face
beamed with pleasure as he looked.

`He will pass us all, and leave us far behind, this
child who is too stupid to learn his A B C,' he
would say, and his face shone with unselfish joy.

Then when the boys grew older, they were
allowed to go into the church and watch those
wonderful frescoes, which grew under the hand of
the great awkward painter, `Ugly Tom,' as he was

Together Filippo and Diamante stood and watched
with awe, learning lessons there which the good
father had not been able to teach. Then they 
would begin to put into practice what they had
learned, and try to copy in their own pictures the
work of the great master.

`Thou hast the knack of it, Filippo,' Diamante
would say as he looked with envy at the figures
Filippo drew so easily.

`Thy pictures are also good,' Filippo would
answer quickly, `and thou thyself art better than
any one else in the convent.'

There was no complaint now of Filippo's dullness.
He soon learned all that the painter-monks could
teach him, and as years passed on the prior would
rub his hands in delight to think that here was an
artist, one of themselves, who would soon be able to
paint the walls of the church and convent, and make
them as famous as the convent of San Marco had
been made famous by its angelical painter.

Then one day he called Filippo to him.

`My son,' he said, `you have learned well, and it is
time now to turn your work to some account. Go
into the cloister where the walls have been but
newly whitewashed, and let us see what kind of
pictures thou canst paint.'

With burning cheeks and shining eyes, Filippo
began his work. Day after day he stood on the
scaffolding, with his brown robe pinned back and
his bare arm moving swiftly as he drew figure after
figure on the smooth white wall.

He did not pause to think what he would draw,
the figures seemed to grow like magic under his
touch. There were the monks in their brown and
white robes, fat and laughing, or lean and anxious- 
minded. There were the people who came to say
their prayers in church, little children clinging to
their mothers' skirts, beggars and rich folks, even
the stray dog that sometimes wandered in. Yes,
and the pretty girls who laughed and talked in
whispers. He drew them all, just as he had often
seen them. Then, when the last piece of wall was
covered, he stopped his work.

The news soon spread through all the convent
that Brother Filippo had finished his picture, and all
the monks came hurrying to see. The scaffolding
was taken down, and then they all stood round,
gazing with round eyes and open mouths. They
had never seen anything like it before, and at first
there was silence except for one long drawn `ah-h.'

Then one by one they began to laugh and talk,
and point with eager, excited fingers. `Look,'
cried one, `there is Brother Giovanni; I would know
his smile among a hundred.'

`There is that beggar who comes each day to ask
for soup,' cried another.

`And there is his dog,' shouted a third.

`Look at the maid who kneels in front,' said Fra
Diamante in a hushed voice, `is she not as fair as
any saint?'

Then suddenly there was silence, and the brothers
looked ashamed of the noise they had been making,
as the prior himself looked down on them from the
steps above.

`What is all this?' he asked. And his voice
sounded grave and displeased as he looked from the
wall to the crowd of eager monks. Then he turned 
to Filippo. `Are these the pictures I ordered thee
to paint?' he asked. `Is this the kind of painting to
do honour to God and to our Church? Will these
mere human figures help men to remember the
saints, teach them to look up to heaven, or help
them with their prayers? Quick, rub them out,
and paint your pictures for heaven and not for

Filippo hung his head, the crowd of admiring
monks swiftly disappeared, and he was left to begin
his work all over again.

It was so difficult for Filippo to keep his thoughts
fixed on heaven, and not to think of earth. He did
so love the merry world, and his fingers, those same
ten brown rascals which had got him into trouble
when he was a child, always longed to draw just
the faces that he saw every day. The pretty face
of the little maid kneeling at her prayers was so
real and so delightful, and the Madonna and angels
seemed so solemn and far off.

Still no one would have pictures which did not
tell of saints and angels, so he must paint the best
he could. After all, it was easy to put on wings and
golden haloes until the earthly things took on a
heavenly look.

But the convent life grew daily more and more
wearisome now to Filippo. The world, which he
had been so willing to give up for a piece of good
white bread when he was eight years old, now
seemed full of all the things he loved best.

The more he thought of it, the more he longed
to see other places outside the convent walls, and
other faces besides the monks and the people who
came to church.

And so one dark night, when all the brothers were
asleep and the bells had just rung the midnight
hour, Fra Filippo stole out of his cell, unlocked
the convent door, and ran swiftly out into the quiet

How good it felt to be free! The very street
itself seemed like an old friend, welcoming him with
open arms. On and on he ran until he came to the
city gates of San Frediano, there to wait until he
could slip through unnoticed when the gates were
opened at the dawn of day. Then on again until
Florence and the convent were left behind and the
whole world lay before him.

There was no difficulty about living, for the
people gave him food and money, and good-natured
countrymen would stop their carts and offer him a
lift along the straight white dusty roads. So by
and by he reached Ancona and saw for the first
time the sea.

Filippo gazed and gazed, forgetting everything
else as he drank in the beauty of that great stretch
of quivering blue, while in his ears sounded words
which he had almost forgotten--words which had
fallen on heedless ears at matins or vespers--and
which never had held any meaning for him before:
`And before the throne was a sea of glass, like unto

He stood still for a few minutes and then the
heavenly vision faded, and like any other boy he
forgot all about beauty and colour, and only longed
to be out in a boat enjoying the strange new

Very lucky he thought himself when he reached
the shore to find a boat just putting of, and to hear
himself invited to jump in by the boys who were
going for a sail.

Away they went, further and further from the
shore, laughing and talking. The boys were so
busy telling wonderful sea-tales to the young
stranger that they did not notice how far they had
gone. Then suddenly they looked ahead and sat
speechless with fear.

A great Moorish galley was bearing down upon
them, its rows of oars flashed in the sunlight, and
its great painted sails towered above their heads. It
was no use trying to escape. Those strong rowers
easily overtook them, and in a few minutes Filippo
and his companions were hoisted up on board the

It was all so sudden that it seemed like a dream.
But the chains were very real that were fastened
round their wrists and ankles, and the dark cruel
faces of the Moors as they looked on smiling at
their misery were certainly no dream.

Then followed long days of misery when the new
slaves toiled at the oars under the blazing sun, and
nights of cold and weariness. Many a time did
Filippo long for the quiet convent, the kindly
brothers, and the long peaceful days. Many a time
did he long to hear the bells calling him to prayer,
which had once only filled him with restless

But at last the galley reached the coast of Barbary,
and the slaves were unchained from the oars and
taken ashore. In all his misery Filippo's keen eyes
still watched with interest the people around him,
and he was never tired of studying the swarthy
faces and curious garments of the Moorish pirates.

Then one day when he happened to be near
a smooth white wall, he took a charred stick from
a fire which was built close by, and began to draw
the figure of his master.

What a delight it was to draw those rapid strokes
and feel the likeness grow beneath his fingers! He
was so much interested that he did not notice the
crowd that gathered gradually round him, but he
worked steadily on until the figure was finished.

Just as the band of monks had stood silent round
his first picture in the cloister of the Carmine, so
these dark Moors stood still in wonder and amazement
gazing upon the bold black figure sketched
upon the smooth white wall.

No one had ever seen such a thing in that land
before, and it seemed to them that this man must
be a dealer in magic. They whispered together, and
one went off hurriedly to fetch the captain.

The master, when he came, was as astonished as
the men. He could scarcely believe his eyes when
he saw a second self drawn upon the wall, more like
than his own shadow. This indeed must be no
common man; and he ordered that Filippo's chains
should be immediately struck off, and that he should
be treated with respect and honour.

Nothing now was too good for this man of magic, 
and before long Filippo was put on board a ship
and carried safely back to Italy. They put him
ashore at Naples, and for some little time Filippo
stayed there painting pictures for the king; but his
heart was in his own beloved town, and very soon
he returned to Florence.

Perhaps he did not deserve a welcome, but every
one was only too delighted to think that the runaway
had really returned. Even the prior, though
he shook his head, was glad to welcome back the
brother whose painting had already brought fame
and honour to the convent.

But in spite of all the troubles Filippo had gone
through, he still dearly loved the merry world and
all its pleasures. For a long time he would paint
his saints and angels with all due diligence, and
then he would dash down brushes and pencils, leave
his paints scattered around, and of he would go for
a holiday. Then the work would come to a stand-
still, and people must just wait until Filippo should
feel inclined to begin again.

The great Cosimo de Medici, who was always the
friend of painters, desired above all things that
Fra Filippo should paint a picture for him. And
what is more, having heard so many tales about the
idle ways of this same brother, he was determined
that the picture should be painted without any

`Fra Filippo shall take no holidays while at work
for me,' he said, as he talked the matter over with
the prior.

`That may not be so easy as thou thinkest,' said
the prior, for he knew Filippo better than did this
great Cosimo.

But Cosimo did not see any difficulty in the
matter whatever. High in his palace he prepared
a room for the painter, and placed there everything
he could need. No comfort was lacking, and when
Filippo came he was treated as an honoured guest,
except for one thing. Whenever the heavy door
of his room swung to, there was a grating sound
heard, and the key in the lock was turned from
outside. So Filippo was really a captive in his
handsome prison.

That was all very well for a few days. Filippo
laughed as he painted away, and laid on the tender
blue of the Virgin's robe, and painted into her eyes
the solemn look which he had so often seen on the
face of some poor peasant woman as she knelt at
prayer. But after a while he grew restless and
weary of his work.

`Plague take this great man and his fine manners,'
he cried. `Does he think he can catch a lark and
train it to sing in a cage at his bidding? I am
weary of saints and angels. I must out to breathe
the fresh sweet air of heaven.'

But the key was always turned in the lock and
the door was strong. There was the window, but
it was high above the street, and the grey walls,
built of huge square stones, might well have been
intended to enclose a prison rather than a palace.

It was a dark night, and the air felt hot as Filippo
leaned out of the window. Scarce a breath stirred
the still air, and every sound could be heard 
distinctly. Far below in the street he could hear the
tread of the people's feet, and catch the words of a
merry song as a company of boys and girls danced
merrily along.

     `Flower of the rose,
     If I've been happy, what matter who knows,'

they sang.

It was all too tempting; out he must get. Filippo
looked round his room, and his eye rested on the
bed. With a shout of triumphant delight he ran
towards it. First he seized the quilt and tore it
into strips, then the blankets, then the sheets.

`Whoever saw a grander rope?' he chuckled to
himself as he knotted the ends together.

Quick as thought he tied it to the iron bar that
ran across his window, and, squeezing out, he began
to climb down, hand over hand, dangling and
swinging to and fro. The rope was stout and good,
and now he could steady himself by catching his
toes in the great iron rings fastened into the wall,
until at last he dropped breathless into the street

Next day, when Cosimo came to see how the
painting went on, he saw indeed the pictures and
the brushes, but no painter was there. Quickly he
stepped to the open window, and there he saw the
dangling rope of sheets, and guessed at once how
the bird had flown.

Through the streets they searched for the missing
painter, and before long he was found and brought
back. Filippo tried to look penitent, but his eyes 
were dancing with merriment, and Cosimo must
needs laugh too.

`After all,' said Filippo, `my talent is not like a
beast of burden, to be driven and beaten into doing
its work. It is rather like one of those heavenly
visitors whom we willingly entertain when they
deign to visit us, but whom we can never force
either to come or go at will.'

`Thou art right, friend painter,' answered the
great man. `And when I think how thou and thy
talent might have taken wings together, had not
the rope held good, I vow I will never seek to keep
thee in against thy will again.'

`Then will I work all the more willingly,' answered

So with doors open, and freedom to come and go,
Filippo no longer wished to escape, but worked with
all his heart. The beautiful Madonna and angel
were soon finished, and besides he painted a
wonderful picture of seven saints with St. John sitting
in their midst.

From far and near came requests that Fra Filippo
Lippi should paint pictures for different churches
and convents. He would much rather have painted
the scenes and the people he saw every day, but he
remembered the prior's lecture, and still painted
only the stories of saints and holy people--the
gentle Madonna with her scarlet book of prayers,
the dove fluttering near, and the angel messenger
with shining wings bearing the lily branch. True,
the saints would sometimes look out of his pictures
with the faces of some of his friends, but no one
seemed to notice that. On the whole his was a
happy life, and he was always ready to paint for
any one that should ask him.

Many people now were proud to know the famous
young painter, but his old companion Fra Diamante
was still the friend he loved best. Whenever it was
possible they still would work together; so, great
was their delight when one day an order came from
Prato that they should both go there to paint the
walls of San Stefano.

`Good-bye to old Florence for a while,' cried
Filippo as they set out merrily together. He
looked back as he spoke at the spires and sunbaked
roofs, the white marble facade of San Miniato, and
the dark cypresses standing clear against the pure
warm sky of early spring. `I am weary of your
great men and all your pomp and splendour.
Something tells me we shall have a golden time
among the good folk of Prato.'

Perhaps it was the springtime that made Filippo
so joyous that morning as he rode along the dusty
white road.

Spring had come with a glad rush, as she ever
comes in Italy, scattering on every side her flowers
and favours. From under the dead brown leaves of
autumn, violets pushed their heads and perfumed all
the air. Under the grey olives the sprouting corn
spread its tender green, and the scarlet and purple
of the anemones waved spring's banner far and near.
It was good to be alive on such a day.

Arrived at Prato, the two painters, with a favourite
pupil called Botticelli, worked together diligently, 
and covered wall after wall with their frescoes.
It seemed as if they would never be done, for
each church and convent had work awaiting them.

`Truly,' said Filippo one day when he was putting
the last touches to a portrait of Fra Diamante, whom
he had painted into his picture of the death of St.
Stephen, `I will undertake no more work for a while.
It is full time we had a holiday together.'

But even as he spoke a message was brought to
him from the good abbess of the convent of Santa
Margherita, begging him to come and paint an
altarpiece for the sisters' chapel.

`Ah, well, what must be, must be,' he said to
Fra Diamante, who stood smiling by. `I will do
what I can to please these holy women, but after
that--no more.'

The staid and sober abbess met him at the convent
door, and silently led him through the sunny
garden, bright with flowers, where the lizards darted
to right and left as they walked past the fountain
and entered the dim, cool chapel. In a low, sweet
voice she told him what they would have him paint,
and showed him the space above the high altar
where the picture was to be placed.

`Our great desire is that thou shouldst paint for
us the Holy Virgin with the Blessed Child on the
night of the Nativity,' she said.

The painter seemed to listen, but his attention
wandered, and all the time he wished himself back
in the sunny garden, where he had seen a fair
young face looking through the pink sprays of
almond blossoms, while the music of the vesper
hymn sounded sweet and clear in his ears.

`I will begin to-morrow,' he said with a start
when the low voice of the abbess stopped. `I will
paint the Madonna and Babe as thou desirest.'

So next day the work began. And each time
the abbess noiselessly entered the room where the
painter was at work and watched the picture grow
beneath his hand, she felt more and more sure that
she had done right in asking this painter to decorate
their beloved chapel.

True, it was said by many that the young artist
was but a worldly minded man, not like the blessed
Fra Angelico, the heavenly painter of San Marco;
but his work was truly wonderful, and his handsome
face looked good, even if a somewhat merry smile
was ever wont to lurk about his mouth and in his

Then came a morning when the abbess found
Filippo standing idle, with a discontented look upon
his face. He was gazing at the unfinished picture,
and for a while he did not see that any one had
entered the room.

`Is aught amiss?' asked the gentle voice at his
side, and Filippo turned and saw the abbess.

`Something indeed seems amiss with my five
fingers,' said Filippo, with his quick bright smile.
`Time after time have I tried to paint the face of
the Madonna, and each time I must needs paint it
out again.'

Then a happy thought came into his mind.

`I have seen a face sometimes as I passed through
the convent garden which is exactly what I want,' he
cried. `If thou wouldst but let the maiden sit where
I can see her for a few hours each day, I can promise
thee that the Madonna will be finished as thou
wouldst wish.'

The abbess stood in deep thought for a few
minutes, for she was puzzled to know what she
should do.

`It is the child Lucrezia,' she thought to herself.
`She who was sent here by her father, the noble
Buti of Florence. She is but a novice still, and there
can be no harm in allowing her to lend her fair face
as a model for Our Lady.'

So she told Filippo it should be as he wished.

It was dull in the convent, and Lucrezia was only
too pleased to spend some hours every morning,
idly sitting in the great chair, while the young
painter talked to her and told her stories while he
painted. She counted the hours until it was time to
go back, and grew happier each day as the Madonna's
face grew more and more beautiful.

Surely there was no one so good or so handsome
as this wonderful artist. Lucrezia could not bear to
think how dull her life would be when he was gone.
Then one day, when it happened that the abbess
was called away and they were alone, Filippo told
Lucrezia that he loved her and could not live without
her; and although she was frightened at first, she
soon grew happy, and told him that she was ready to
go with him wherever he wished. But what would
the good nuns think of it? Would they ever let
her go? No; they must think of some other plan.

To-morrow was the great festa of Prato, when all
the nuns walked in procession to see the holy centola,
or girdle, which the Madonna had given to St. Thomas.
Lucrezia must take care to walk on the outside of
the procession, and to watch for a touch upon the
arm as she passed.

The festa day dawned bright and clear, and all
Prato was early astir. Procession after procession
wound its way to the church where the relic was to
be shown, and the crowd grew denser every moment.
Presently came the nuns of Santa Margherita. A
figure in the crowd pressed nearer. Lucrezia felt a
touch upon her arm, and a strong hand clasped hers.
The crowd swayed to and fro, and in an instant the
two figures disappeared. No one noticed that the
young novice was gone, and before the nuns thought
of looking for their charge Lucrezia was on her way
to Florence, her horse led by the painter whom she
loved, while his good friend Fra Diamante rode
beside her.

Then the storm burst. Lucrezia's father was
furious, the good nuns were dismayed, and every
one shook their heads over this last adventure of
the Florentine painter.

But luckily for Filippo, the great Cosimo still
stood his friend and helped him through it all. He
it was who begged the Pope to allow Fra Filippo to
marry Lucrezia (for monks, of course, were never
allowed to marry), and the Pope, too, was kind and
granted the request, so that all went well.

Now indeed was Lucrezia as happy as the day
was long, and when the spring returned once more
to Florence, a baby Filippo came with the violets
and lilies.

`How wilt thou know us apart if thou callest him
Filippo?' asked the proud father.

`Ah, he is such a little one, dear heart,' Lucrezia
answered gaily. `We will call him Filippino, and
then there can be no mistake.'

There was no more need now to seek for pleasures
out of doors. Filippo painted his pictures and lived
his happy home life without seeking any more
adventures. His Madonnas grew ever more beautiful,
for they were all touched with the beauty that
shone from Lucrezia's fair face, and the Infant Christ
had ever the smile and the curly golden hair of the
baby Filippino.

And by and by a little daughter came to gladden
their hearts, and then indeed their cup of joy was full.

`What name shall we give the little maid?' said

`Methought thou wouldst have it Lucrezia,'
answered the mother.

`There is but one Lucrezia in all the world for
me,' he said. `None other but thee shall bear that

As they talked a knock sounded at the door, and
presently the favourite pupil, Sandro, looked in.
There was a shout of joy from little Filippino, and
the young man lifted the child in his arms and
smiled with the look of one who loves children.

`Come, Sandro, and see the little new flower,' said
Filippo. `Is she not as fair as the roses which thou
dost so love to paint?'

Then, as the young man looked with interest
at the tiny face, Filippo clapped him on the

`I have it!' he cried. `She shall be called after
thee, Alessandra. Some day she will be proud to
think that she bears thy name.'

For already Filippo knew that this pupil of his
would ere long wake the world to new wonder.

The only clouds that hid the sunshine of Lucrezia's
life was when Filippo was obliged to leave her for a
while and paint his pictures in other towns. She
always grew sad when his work in Florence drew
to a close, for she never knew where his next work
might lie.

`Well,' said Filippo one night as he returned
home and caught up little Filippino in his arms,
`the picture for the nuns of San Ambrogio is finished
at last! Truly they have saints and angels enough
this time--rows upon rows of sweet faces and white
lilies. And the sweetest face of all is thine, Saint
Lucy, kneeling in front with thy hand beneath the
chin of this young cherub.'

`Is it indeed finished so soon?' asked Lucrezia, a
wistful note creeping into her voice.

`Ay, and to-morrow I must away to Spoleto to
begin my work at the Chapel of Our Lady. But
look not so sad, dear heart; before three months are
past, by the time the grapes are gathered, I will

But it was sad work parting, though it might only
be for three months, and even her little son could not
make his mother smile, though he drew wonderful
pictures for her of birds and beasts, and told her he
meant to be a great painter like his father when
he grew up.

Next day Filippo started, and with him went his
good friend Fra Diamante.

`Fare thee well, Filippo. Take good care of him,
friend Diamante,' cried Lucrezia; and she stood
watching until their figures disappeared at the end
of the long white road, and then went inside to wait
patiently for their return.

The summer days passed slowly by. The cheeks
of the peaches grew soft and pink under the kiss of
the sun, the figs showed ripe and purple beneath the
green leaves, and the grapes hung in great transparent
clusters of purple and gold from the vines
that swung between the poplar-trees. Then came
the merry days of vintage, and the juice was pressed
out of the ripe grapes.

`Now he will come back,' said Lucrezia, `for he
said ``by the time the grapes are gathered I will
return.'' '

The days went slowly by, and every evening she
stood in the loggia and gazed across the hills. Then
she would point out the long white road to little

`Thy father will come along that road ere long,'
she said, and joy sang in her voice.

Then one evening as she watched as usual her
heart beat quickly. Surely that figure riding so
slowly along was Fra Diamante? But where was
Filippo, and why did his friend ride so slowly?

When he came near and entered the house she 
looked into his face, and all the joy faded from her

`You need not tell me,' she cried; `I know that
Filippo is dead.'

It was but too true. The faithful friend had
brought the sad news himself. No one could tell
how Filippo had died. A few short hours of pain
and then all was over. Some talked of poison. But
who could tell?

There had just been time to send his farewell to
Lucrezia, and to pray his friend to take charge of
little Filippino.

So, as she listened, joy died out of Lucrezia's life.
Spring might come again, and summer sunshine
make others glad, but for her it would be ever cold,
bleak winter. For never more should her heart grow
warm in the sunshine of Filippo's smile--that
sunshine which had made every one love him, in spite
of his faults, ever since he ran about the streets,
a little ragged boy, in the old city of Florence.


We must now go back to the days when Fra
Filippo Lippi painted his pictures and so brought
fame to the Carmine Convent.

There was at that time in Florence a good citizen
called Mariano Filipepi, an honest, well-to-do man,
who had several sons. These sons were all taught
carefully and well trained to do each the work he
chose. But the fourth son, Alessandro, or Sandro
as he was called, was a great trial to his father. He
would settle to no trade or calling. Restless and
uncertain, he turned from one thing to another.
At one time he would work with all his might, and
then again become as idle and fitful as the summer
breeze. He could learn well and quickly when he
chose, but then there were so few things that he
did choose to learn. Music he loved, and he knew
every song of the birds, and anything connected
with flowers was a special joy to him. No one
knew better than he how the different kinds of
roses grew, and how the lilies hung upon their

`And what, I should like to know, is going to be
the use of all this,' the good father would say
impatiently, `as long as thou takest no pains to read
and write and do thy sums? What am I to do
with such a boy, I wonder?'

Then in despair the poor man decided to send
Sandro to a neighbour's workshop, to see if perhaps
his hands would work better than his head.

The name of this neighbour was Botticelli, and
he was a goldsmith, and a very excellent master of
his art. He agreed to receive Sandro as his pupil,
so it happened that the boy was called by his
master's name, and was known ever after as Sandro

Sandro worked for some time with his master, and
quickly learned to draw designs for the goldsmith's

In those days painters and goldsmiths worked a
great deal together, and Sandro often saw designs
for pictures and listened to the talk of the artists
who came to his master's shop. Gradually, as he
looked and listened, his mind was made up. He
would become a painter. All his restless longings
and day dreams turned to this. All the music that
floated in the air as he listened to the birds' song,
the gentle dancing motion of the wind among the
trees, all the colours of the flowers, and the graceful
twinings of the rose-stems--all these he would catch
and weave into his pictures. Yes, he would learn
to painst music and motion, and then he would be

`So now thou wilt become a painter,' said his
father, with a hopeless sigh.

Truly this boy was more trouble than all the rest
put together. Here he had just settled down to
learn how to become a good goldsmith, and now he
wished to try his hand at something else. Well, it
was no use saying `no.' The boy could never be
made to do anything but what he wished. There was
the Carmelite monk Fra Filippo Lippi, of whom all,
men were talking. It was said he was the greatest
painter in Florence. The boy should have the best
teaching it was possible to give him, and perhaps
this time he would stick to his work.

So Sandro was sent as a pupil to Fra Filippo, and
he soon became a great favourite with the happy,
sunny-tempered master. The quick eye of the
painter soon saw that this was no ordinary pupil.
There was something about Sandro's drawing that
was different to anything that Filippo had ever seen
before. His figures seemed to move, and one
almost heard the wind rustling in their flowing
drapery. Instead of walking, they seemed to be
dancing lightly along with a swaying motion as if to
the rhythm of music. The very rose-leaves the boy
loved to paint, seemed to flutter down to the sound
of a fairy song. Filippo was proud of his pupil.

`The world will one day hear more of my Sandro
Botticelli,' he said; and, young though the boy was,
he often took him to different places to help him in
his work.

So it happened that, in that wonderful spring
of Filippo's life, Sandro too was at Prato, and
worked there with Fra Diamante. And in after
years when the master's little daughter was born,
she was named Alessandra, after the favourite
pupil, to whom was also left the training of little

Now, indeed, Sandros good old father had no
further cause to complain. The boy had found the
work he was most fitted for, and his name soon
became famous in Florence.

It was the reign of gaiety and pleasure in the city
of Florence at that time. Lorenzo the Magnificent,
the son of Cosimo de Medici, was ruler now, and
his court was the centre of all that was most splendid
and beautiful. Rich dresses, dainty food, music,
gay revels, everything that could give pleasure,
whether good or bad, was there.

Lorenzo, like his father, was always glad to
discover a new painter, and Botticelli soon became a
great favourite at court.

But pictures of saints and angels were somewhat
out of fashion at that time, for people did not care
to be reminded of anything but earthly pleasures.
So Botticelli chose his subjects to please the court,
and for a while ceased to paint his sad-eyed Madonnas.

What mattered to him what his subject was?
Let him but paint his dancing figures, tripping
along in their light flowing garments, keeping time
to the music of his thoughts, and the subject might
be one of the old Greek tales or any other story
that served his purpose.

All the gay court dresses, the rich quaint robes of
the fair ladies, helped to train the young painter's
fancy for flowing draperies and wonderful veils of
filmy transparent gauze.

There was one fair lady especially whom Sandro
loved to paint--the beautiful Simonetta, as she is
still called.

First he painted her as Venus, who was born of
the sea foam. In his picture she floats to the shore
standing in a shell, her golden hair wrapped round
her. The winds behind blow her onward and
scatter pink and red roses through the air. On the
shore stands Spring, who holds out a mantle, flowers
nestling in its folds, ready to enwrap the goddess
when the winds shall have wafted her to land.

Then again we see her in his wonderful picture
of `Spring,' and in another called `Mars and Venus.'
She was too great a lady to stoop to the humble
painter, and he perhaps only looked up to her as a
star shining in heaven, far out of the reach of his
love. But he never ceased to worship her from afar.
He never married or cared for any other fair face, just
as the great poet Dante, whom Botticelli admired
so much, dreamed only of his one love, Beatrice.

But Sandro did not go sadly through life sighing
for what could never be his. He was kindly and
good-natured, full of jokes, and ready to make merry
with his pupils in the workshop.

It once happened that one of these pupils, Biagio
by name, had made a copy of one of Sandro's
pictures, a beautiful Madonna surrounded by eight
angels. This he was very anxious to sell, and the
master kindly promised to help him, and in the end
arranged the matter with a citizen of Florence, who
offered to buy it for six gold pieces.

`Well, Biagio,' said Sandro, when his pupil came
into the studio next morning, `I have sold thy
picture. Let us now hang it up in a good light
that the man who wishes to buy it may see it at its
best. Then will he pay thee the money.'

Biagio was overjoyed.

`Oh, master,' he cried, `how well thou hast done.'

Then with hands which trembled with excitement
the pupil arranged the picture in the best light, and
went to fetch the purchaser.

Now meanwhile Botticelli and his other pupils
had made eight caps of scarlet pasteboard such as
the citizens of Florence then wore, and these they
fastened with wax on to the heads of the eight
angels in the picture.

Presently Biagio came back panting with joyful
excitement, and brought with him the citizen, who
knew already of the joke. The poor boy looked at
his picture and then rubbed his eyes. What had
happened? Where were his angels? The picture
must be bewitched, for instead of his angels he saw
only eight citizens in scarlet caps.

He looked wildly around, and then at the face
of the man who had promised to buy the picture.
Of course he would refuse to take such a thing.

But, to his surprise, the citizen looked well pleased,
and even praised the work.

`It is well worth the money,' he said; `and if thou
wilt return with me to my house, I will pay thee the
six gold pieces.'

Biagio scarcely knew what to do. He was so
puzzled and bewildered he felt as if this must be a
bad dream.

As soon as he could, he rushed back to the studio
to look again at that picture, and then he found
that the red-capped citizens had disappeared, and his
eight angels were there instead. This of course was
not surprising, as Sandro and his pupils had quickly
removed the wax and taken off the scarlet caps.

`Master, master,' cried the astonished pupil, `tell
me if I am dreaming, or if I have lost my wits?
When I came in just now, these angels were
Florentine citizens with red caps on their heads, and
now they are angels once more. What may this

`I think, Biagio, that this money must have
turned thy brain round,' said Botticelli gravely. `If
the angels had looked as thou sayest, dost thou
think the citizen would have bought the picture?'

`That is true,' said Biagio, shaking his head
solemnly; `and yet I swear I never saw anything
more clearly.'

And the poor boy, for many a long day, was
afraid to trust his own eyes, since they had so
basely deceived him.

But the next thing that happened at the studio
did not seem like a joke to the master, for a weaver
of cloth came to live close by, and his looms made
such a noise and such a shaking that Sandro was
deafened, and the house shook so greatly that it was
impossible to paint.

But though Botticelli went to the weaver and
explained all this most courteously, the man
answered roughly, `Can I not do what I like with
my own house?' So Sandro was angry, and went
away and immediately ordered a great square of
stone to be brought, so big that it filled a waggon.
This he had placed on the top of his wall nearest to
the weaver's house, in such a way that the least 
shake would bring it crashing down into the enemy's

When the weaver saw this he was terrified, and
came round at once to the studio.

`Take down that great stone at once,' he shouted.
`Do you not see that it would crush me and my
workshop if it fell?'

`Not at all,' said Botticelli. `Why should I take
it down? Can I not do as I like with my own

And this taught the weaver a lesson, so that he
made less noise and shaking, and Sandro had the
best of the joke after all.

There were no idle days of dreaming now for
Sandro. As soon as one picture was finished
another was wanted. Money flowed in, and his
purse was always full of gold, though he emptied it
almost as fast as it was filled. His work for the
Pope at Rome alone was so well paid that the
money should have lasted him for many a long day,
but in his usual careless way he spent it all before
he returned to Florence.

Perhaps it was the gay life at Lorenzo's splendid
court that had taught him to spend money so carelessly,
and to have no thought but to eat, drink, and
be merry. But very soon a change began to steal
over his life.

There was one man in Florence who looked with
sad condemning eyes on all the pleasure-loving
crowd that thronged the court of Lorenzo the
Magnificent. In the peaceful convent of San
Marco, whose walls the angel-painter had covered
with pictures `like windows into heaven,' the
stern monk Savonarola was grieving over the sin
and vanity that went on around him. He loved
Florence with all his heart, and he could not bear
the thought that she was forgetting, in the whirl of
pleasure, all that was good and pure and worth the

Then, like a battle-cry, his voice sounded through
the city, and roused the people from their foolish
dreams of ease and pleasure. Every one flocked to
the great cathedral to hear Savonarola preach, and
Sandro Botticelli left for a while his studio and his
painting and became a follower of the great preacher.
Never again did he paint those pictures of earthly
subjects which had so delighted Lorenzo. When he
once more returned to his work, it was to paint his
sad-eyed Madonnas; and the music which still floated
through his visions was now like the song of angels.

The boys of Florence especially had grown wild
and rough during the reign of pleasure, and they
were the terror of the city during carnival time.
They would carry long poles, or `stili,' and bar the
streets across, demanding money before they would
let the people pass. This money they spent on
drinking and feasting, and at night they set up
great trees in the squares or wider streets and
lighted huge bonfires around them. Then would
begin a terrible fight with stones, and many of the
boys were hurt, and some even killed.

No one had been able to put a stop to this until
Savonarola made up his mind that it should cease.
Then, as if by magic, all was changed.

Instead of the rough game of `stili,' there were
altars put up at the corners of the streets, and the
boys begged money of the passers-by, not for their
feasts, but for the poor.

`You shall not miss your bonfire,' said Savonarola;
`but instead of a tree you shall burn up vain and
useless things, and so purify the city.'

So the children went round and collected all the
`vanities,' as they were called--wigs and masks and
carnival dresses, foolish songs, bad books, and evil
pictures; all were heaped high and then lighted to
make one great bonfire.

Some people think that perhaps Sandro threw
into the Bonfire of Vanities some of his own beautiful
pictures, but that we cannot tell.

Then came the sad time when the people, who at
one time would have made Savonarola their king,
turned against him, in the same fickle way that
crowds will ever turn. And then the great preacher,
who had spent his life trying to help and teach them,
and to do them good, was burned in the great
square of that city which he had loved so dearly.

After this it was long before Botticelli cared to
paint again. He was old and weary now, poor and
sad, sick of that world which had treated with such
cruelty the master whom he loved.

One last picture he painted to show the triumph
of good over evil. Not with the sword or the might
of great power is the triumph won, says Sandro to
us by this picture, but by the little hand of the
Christ Child, conquering by love and drawing all
men to Him. This Adoration of the Magi is in
our own National Gallery in London, and is the
only painting which Botticelli ever signed.

`I, Alessandro, painted this picture during the
troubles of Italy ... when the devil was let loose
for the space of three and a half years. Afterwards
shall he be chained, and we shall see him trodden
down as in this picture.'

It is evident that Botticelli meant by this those
sad years of struggle against evil which ended in
the martyrdom of the great preacher, and he has
placed Savonarola among the crowd of worshippers
drawn to His feet by the Infant Christ.

It is sad to think of those last days when Sandro
was too old and too weary to paint. He who had
loved to make his figures move with dancing feet, was
now obliged to walk with crutches. The roses and
lilies of spring were faded now, and instead of the
music of his youth he heard only the sound of harsh,
ungrateful voices, in the flowerless days of poverty
and old age.

There is always something sad too about his
pictures, but through the sadness, if we listen, we
may hear the angel-song, and understand it better if
we have in our minds the prayer which Botticelli
left for us.

`Oh, King of Wings and Lord of Lords, who
alone rulest always in eternity, and who correctest
all our wanderings, giver of melody to the choir
of angels, listen Thou a little to our bitter grief, and
come and rule us, oh Thou highest King, with Thy
love which is so sweet.'


Ghirlandaio! what a difficult name that sounds to
our English ears. But it has a very simple meaning,
and when you understand it the difficulty will

It all happened in this way. Domenico's father
was a goldsmith, one of the cleverest goldsmiths
in Florence, and he was specially famous for making
garlands or wreaths of gold and silver. It was the
fashion then for the young maidens of Florence to
wear these garlands, or `ghirlande' as they were
called, on their heads, and because this goldsmith
made them better than any one else they gave him
the name of Ghirlandaio, which means `maker of
garlands,' and that became the family name.

When the time came for the boy Domenico to
learn a trade, he was sent, of course, to his father's
workshop. He learned so quickly, and worked with
such strong, clever fingers, that his father was

`The boy will make the finest goldsmith of his
day,' he said proudly, as he watched him twisting
the delicate golden wire and working out his designs
in beaten silver.

So he was set to make the garlands, and for a while
be was contented and happy. It was such exquisite
work to twine into shape the graceful golden leaves,
with here and there a silver lily or a jewelled rose,
and to dream of the fair head on which the garland
would rest.

But the making of garlands did not satisfy
Domenico for long, and like Botticelli he soon
began to dream of becoming a painter.

You must remember that in those days goldsmiths
and painters had much in common, and often worked
together. The goldsmith made his picture with
gold and silver and jewels, while the painter drew
his with colours, but they were both artists.

So as the young Ghirlandaio watched these men
draw their great designs and listened to their talk,
he began to feel that the goldsmith's work was
cramped and narrow, and he longed for a larger,
grander work. Day by day the garlands were more
and more neglected, and every spare moment was
spent drawing the faces of those who came to the
shop, or even those of the passers-by.

But although, ere long, Ghirlandaio left his
father's shop and learned to make pictures with
colours, instead of with gold, silver, and jewels, still
the training he had received in his goldsmith's work
showed to the end in all his pictures. He painted
the smallest things with extreme care, and was
never tired of spreading them over with delicate
ornaments and decorations. It is a great deal the
outward show with Ghirlandaio, and not so much
the inward soul, that we find in his pictures, though
he had a wonderful gift of painting portraits.

These portraits painted by the young Ghirlandaio 
seemed very wonderful to the admiring Florentines.
From all his pictures looked out faces which they
knew and recognised immediately. There, in a
group of saints, or in a crowd of figures around the
Infant Christ, they saw the well-known faces of
Florentine nobles, the great ladies from the palaces,
ay, and even the men of the market-place, and the
poor peasant women who sold eggs and vegetables
in the streets. Once he painted an old bishop with
a pair of spectacles resting on his nose. It was the
first time that spectacles had ever been put into a

Then off he must go to Rome, like every one else,
to add his share to the famous frescoes of the
Vatican. But it was in Florence that most of his
work was done.

In the church of Santa Maria Novella there was
a great chapel which belonged to the Ricci family.
It had once been covered by beautiful frescoes, but
now it was spoilt by damp and the rain that came
through the leaking roof. The noble family, to
whom the chapel belonged, were poor and could not
afford to have the chapel repainted, but neither
would they allow any one else to decorate it, lest
it should pass out of their hands.

Now another noble family, called the Tournabuoni,
when they heard of the fame of the new
painter, greatly desired to have a chapel painted
by him in order to do honour to their name and

Accordingly they went to the Ricci family and
offered to have the whole chapel painted and to pay 
the artist themselves. Moreover, they said that
the arms or crest of the Ricci family should be
painted in the most honourable part of the chapel,
that all might see that the chapel still belonged to

To this the Ricci family gladly agreed, and
Ghirlandaio was set to work to cover the walls with
his frescoes.

`I will give thee twelve hundred gold pieces when
it is done,' said Giovanni Tournabuoni, `and if I
like it well, then shalt thou have two hundred more.'

Here was good pay indeed. Ghirlandaio set to
work with all speed, and day by day the frescoes
grew. For four years he worked hard, from
morning until night, until at last the walls were

One of the subjects which he chose for these
frescoes was the story of the Life of the Virgin, so
often painted by Florentine artists. This story I
will tell you now, that your eyes may take greater
pleasure in the pictures when you see them.

The Bible story of the Virgin Mary begins when
the Angel Gabriel came to tell her of the birth of
the Baby Jesus, but there are many stories or
legends about her before that time, and this is one
which the Italians specially loved to paint.

Among the blue hills of Galilee, in the little town
of Nazareth, there lived a man and his wife whose
names were Joachim and Anna. Though they were
rich and had many flocks of sheep which fed in the
rich pastures around, still there was one thing which
God had not given them and which they longed
for more than all beside. They had no child. They
had hoped that God would send one, but now they
were both growing old, and hope began to fade.

Joachim was a very good man, and gave a third
of all that he had as an offering to the temple; but
one sad day when he took his gift, the high priest
at the altar refused to take it.

`God has shown that He will have nought of
thee,' said the priest, `since thou hast no child to
come after thee.'

Filled with shame and grief Joachim would not
go home to his wife, but instead he wandered out
into the far-of fields where his shepherds were
feeding the flocks, and there he stayed forty days.
With bowed head and sad eyes when he was alone,
he knelt and prayed that God would tell him what
he had done to deserve this disgrace.

And as he prayed God sent an angel to comfort

The angel placed his hand upon the bowed head
of the poor old man, and told him to be of good
cheer and to return home at once to his wife.

`For God will even now send thee a child,' said
the angel.

So with a thankful heart which never doubted
the angel's word, Joachim turned his face homewards.

Meanwhile, at home, Anna had been sorrowing
alone. That same day she had gone into the garden,
and, as she wandered among the flowers, she wept
bitterly and prayed that God would send her comfort.
Then there appeared to her also an angel, who
told her that God had heard her prayer and would
send her the child she longed for.

`Go now,' the angel added, `and meet thy
husband Joachim, who is even now returning to
thee, and thou shall find him at the entrance to the
Golden Gate.'

So the husband and wife did as the angel
bade them, and met together at the Golden Gate.
And the Angel of Promise hovered above them,
and laid a hand in blessing upon both their heads.

There was no need for speech. As Joachim and
Anna looked into each other's eyes and read there
the solemn joy of the angel's message, their hearts
were filled with peace and comfort.

And before long the angel's promise was fulfilled,
and a little daughter was born to Anna and Joachim.
In their joy and thankfulness they said she should
not be as other children, but should serve in the
temple as little Samuel had done. The name they
gave the child was Mary, not knowing even then
that she was to be the mother of our Lord.

The little maid was but three years old when her
parents took her to present her in the temple. She
was such a little child that they almost feared she
might be frightened to go up the steps to the great
temple and meet the high priest alone. So they
asked if she might go in company with the other
children who were also on their way to the temple.
But when the little band arrived at the temple
steps, Mary stepped forward and began to climb
up, step by step, alone, while the other children
and her parents watched wondering from below.
Straight up to the temple gates she climbed, and
stood with little head bent low to receive the
blessing of the great high priest.

So the child was left there to be taught to serve
God and to learn how to embroider the purple and
fine linen for the priests' vestments. Never before
had such exquisite embroidery been done as that
which Mary's fingers so delicately stitched, for her
work was aided by angel hands. Sleeping or
waking, the blessed angels never left her.

When it was time that the maiden should be
married, so many suitors came to seek her that it
was difficult to know which to choose. To decide
the matter they were all told to bring their staves
or wands and leave them in the temple all night,
that God might show by a sign who was the
most worthy to be the guardian of the pure young

Now among the suitors was a poor carpenter of
Nazareth called Joseph, who was much older and
much poorer than any of the other suitors. They
thought it was foolish of him to bring his staff,
nevertheless it was placed in the temple with the

But when the morning came and the priest went
into the temple, behold, Joseph's staff had budded
into leaves and flowers, and from among the
blossoms there flew out a dove as white as snow.

So it was known that Joseph was to take charge
of the young maid, and all the rest of the suitors
seized their staves and broke them across their
knees in rage and disappointment.

Then the story goes on to the birth of our
Saviour as it is told to you in the Bible.

It was this story which Ghirlandaio painted on
the walls of the chapel, as well as the history of
John the Baptist. Then, as Giovanni directed, he
painted the arms of the Tournabuoni on various
shields all over the chapel, and only in the tabernacle
of the sacrament on the high altar he
painted a tiny coat of arms of the Ricci family.

The chapel was finished at last and every one
flocked to see it, but first of all came the Ricci, the
owners of the chapel.

They looked high and low, but nowhere could
they see the arms of their family. Instead, on all
sides, they saw the arms of the Tournabuoni. In a
great rage they hurried to the Council and
demanded that Giovanni Tournabuoni should be
punished. But when the facts were explained, and
it was shown that the Ricci arms had indeed been
placed in the most honourable part, they were
obliged to be content, though they vowed vengeance
against the Tournabuoni. Neither did Ghirlandaio
get his extra two hundred gold pieces, for although
Giovanni was delighted with the frescoes he never
paid the price he had promised.

To the end of his days Ghirlandaio loved nothing
so much as to work from morning till night.
Nothing was too small or mean for him to do.
He would even paint the hoops for women's baskets
rather than send any work away from his shop.

`Oh,' he cried, one day, `how I wish I could
paint all the walls around Florence with my stories.'

But there was no time to do all that. He was
only forty-four years old when Death came and bade
him lay down his brushes and pencil, for his work
was done.

Beneath his own frescoes they laid him to rest
in the church of Santa Maria Novella. And
although we sometimes miss the soul in his pictures
and weary of the gay outward decoration of
goldsmith's work, yet there is something there which
makes us love the grand show of fair ladies and strong
men in the carefully finished work of this Florentine
`Maker of Garlands.'


The little curly-haired Filippino, left in the charge
of good Fra Diamante, soon showed that he meant
to be a painter like his father. When, as a little
boy, he drew his pictures and showed them proudly
to his mother, he told her that he, too, would learn
some day to be a great artist. And she, half smiling,
would pat his curly head and tell him that he could
at least try his best.

Then, after that sad day when Lucrezia heard of
Filippo's death, and the happy little home was
broken up, Fra Diamante began in earnest to train
the boy who had been left under his care. He had
plenty of money, for Filippo had been well paid for
the work at Spoleto, and so it was decided that the
boy should be placed in some studio where he could
be taught all that was necessary.

There was no fear of Filippino ever wandering
about the Florentine streets cold and hungry as his
father had done. And his training was very different
too. Instead of the convent and the kind monks,
he was placed under the care of a great painter, and
worked in the master's studio with other boys as
well off as himself.

The name of Filippino's master was Sandro Botti-
celli, a Florentine artist, who had been one of
Filippo's pupils and had worked with him in Prato.
Fra Diamante knew that he was the greatest artist
now in Florence, and that he would be able to teach
the child better than any one else.

Filippino was a good, industrious boy, and had
none of the faults which had so often led his father
into so much mischief and so many strange adventures.
His boyhood passed quietly by and he learned
all that his master could teach him, and then began
to paint his own pictures.

Strangely enough, his first work was to paint the
walls of the Carmille Chapel--that same chapel where
Filippo and Diamante had learned their lessons, and
had gazed with such awe and reverence on Masaccio's

The great painter, Ugly Tom, was dead, and there
were still parts of the chapel unfinished, so Filippino
was invited to fill the empty spaces with his work.
No need for the new prior to warn this young painter
against the sin of painting earthly pictures. The
frescoes which daily grew beneath Filippino's hands
were saintly and beautiful. The tall angel in flowing
white robes who so gently leads St. Peter out of
the prison door, shines with a pure fair light that
speaks of Heaven. The sleeping soldier looks in
contrast all the more dull and heavy, while St. Peter
turns his eyes towards his gentle guide and folds his
hands in reverence, wrapped in the soft reflected
light of that fair face. And on the opposite wall,
the sad face of St. Peter looks out through the prison
bars, while a brother saint stands outside, and with 
uplifted hand speaks comforting words to the poor

By slow degrees the chapel walls were finished, and
after that there was much work ready for the young
painter's hand. It is said that he was very fond of
studying old Roman ornaments and painted them
into his pictures whenever it was possible, and became
very famous for this kind of work. But it is the beauty
of his Madonnas and angels that makes us love his
pictures, and we like to think that the memory of
his gentle mother taught him how to paint those
lovely faces.

Perhaps of all his pictures the most beautiful is one
in the church of the Badia in Florence. It tells the
story of the blessed St. Bernard, and shows the saint
in his desert home, as he sat among the rocks writing
the history of the Madonna. He had not been
able to write that day; perhaps he felt dull, and none
of his books, scattered around, were of any help.
Then, as he sat lost in thought, with his pen in his
hand, the Virgin herself stood before him, an angel on
either side, and little angel faces pressed close behind
her. Laying a gentle hand upon his book, she
seems to tell St. Bernard all those golden words
which his poor earthly pen had not been able yet to

It used to be the custom long ago in Italy to place
in the streets sacred pictures or figures, that passers-
by might be reminded of holy things and say a prayer
in passing. And still in many towns you will find in
some old dusty corner a beautiful picture, painted by
a master hand. A gleam of colour will catch your
eye, and looking up you see a picture or little shrine
of exquisite blue-and-white glazed pottery, where
the Madonna kneels and worships the Infant Christ
lying amongst the lilies at her feet. The old battered
lamp which hangs in front of these shrines is still
kept lighted by some faithful hand, and in spring-
time the children will often come and lay little
bunches of wild-flowers on the ledge below.

`It is for the Jesu Bambino,' they will say, and
their little faces grow solemn and reverent as they
kneel and say a prayer. Then off again they go to
their play.

In a little side-street of Prato, not far from the
convent where Filippino's father first saw Lucrezia's
lovely face in the sunny garden, there is one of these
wayside shrines. It is painted by Filippino, and is
one of his most beautiful pictures. The sweet face
of the Madonna looks down upon the busy street
below, and the Holy Child lifts His little hand in
blessing, amid the saints which stand on either

The glass that covers the picture is thick with
dust, and few who pass ever stop to look up. The
world is all too busy nowadays. The hurrying feet
pass by, the unseeing eyes grow more and more
careless. But Filippino's beautiful Madonna looks
on with calm, sad eyes, and the Christ Child,
surrounded by the cloud of little angel faces, still holds
in His uplifted hand a blessing for those who
seek it.

Like all the great Florentine artists, Filippino, as
soon as he grew famous, was invited to Rome, and
he painted many pictures there. On his way he
stopped for a while at Spoleto, and there he
designed a beautiful marble monument for his father's

Unlike that father, Filippino was never fond of
travel or adventure, and was always glad to return
to Florence and live his quiet life there. Not even
an invitation from the King of Hungary could tempt
him to leave home.

It was in the great church of Santa Maria Novella
in Florence that Filippino painted his last frescoes.
They are very real and lifelike, as one of the great
painter's pupils once learned to his cost. Filippino
had, of course, many pupils who worked under him.
They ground his colours and watched him work,
and would sometimes be allowed to prepare the less
important parts of the picture.

Now it happened that one day when the master
had finished his work and had left the chapel, that
one of the pupils lingered behind. His sharp eye
had caught sight of a netted purse which lay in a dark
corner, dropped there by some careless visitor, or
perhaps by the master himself. The boy darted
back and caught up the treasure; but at that
moment the master turned back to fetch something
he had forgotten. The boy looked quickly
round. Where could he hide his prize? In a
moment his eye fell on a hole in the wall,
underneath a step which Filippino had been painting in
the fresco. That was the very place, and he ran
forward to thrust the purse inside. But, alas! the
hole was only a painted one, and the boy was fairly
caught, and was obliged with shame and confusion
to give up his prize.

Scarcely were these frescoes finished when
Filippino was seized with a terrible fever, and he died
almost as suddenly as his father had done.

In those days when there was a funeral of a prince
in Florence, the Florentines used to shut their shops,
and this was considered a great mark of respect,
and was paid only to those of royal blood. But on
the day that Filippino's funeral passed along the
Via dei Servi, every shop there was closed and all
Florence mourned for him.

`Some men,' they said, `are born princes, and
some raise themselves by their talents to be kings
among men. Our Filippino was a prince in Art, and
so do we do honour to his title.'


It was early morning, and the rays of the rising
sun had scarcely yet caught the roofs of the city
of Perugia, when along the winding road which led
across the plain a man and a boy walked with
steady, purposelike steps towards the town which
crowned the hill in front.

The man was poorly dressed in the common
rough clothes of an Umbrian peasant. Hard work
and poverty had bent his shoulders and drawn stern
lines upon his face, but there was a dignity about
him which marked him as something above the
common working man.

The little boy who trotted barefoot along by the
side of his father had a sweet, serious little face, but
he looked tired and hungry, and scarcely fit for such
a long rough walk. They had started from their
home at Castello delle Pieve very early that morning,
and the piece of black bread which had served
them for breakfast had been but small. Away in
front stretched that long, white, never-ending road;
and the little dusty feet that pattered so bravely
along had to take hurried runs now and again to
keep up with the long strides of the man, while the
wistful eyes, which were fixed on that distant town,
seemed to wonder if they would really ever reach
their journey's end.

`Art tired already, Pietro?' asked the father at
length, hearing a panting little sigh at his side.
`Why, we are not yet half-way there! Thou must
step bravely out and be a man, for to-day thou shalt
begin to work for thy living, and no longer live the
life of an idle child.'

The boy squared his shoulders, and his eyes shone.

`It is not I who am tired, my father,' he said.
`It is only that my legs cannot take such good long
steps as thine; and walk as we will the road ever
seems to unwind itself further and further in front,
like the magic white thread which has no end.'

The father laughed, and patted the child's head

`The end will come ere long,' he said. `See
where the mist lies at the foot of the hill; there we
will begin to climb among the olive-trees and leave
the dusty road. I know a quicker way by which
we may reach the city. We will climb over the
great stones that mark the track of the stream, and
before the sun grows too hot we will have reached
the city gates.'

It was a great relief to the little hot, tired feet to
feel the cool grass beneath them, and to leave the
dusty road. The boy almost forgot his tiredness as
he scrambled from stone to stone, and filled his
hands with the violets which grew thickly on the
banks, scenting the morning air with their sweetness.
And when at last they came out once more
upon the great white road before the city gates,
there was so much to gaze upon and wonder at, that
there was no room for thoughts of weariness or hunger.

There stood the herds of great white oxen,
patiently waiting to pass in. Pietro wondered if
their huge wide horns would not reach from side to
side of the narrow street within the gates. There
the shepherd-boys played sweet airs upon their
pipes as they walked before their flocks, and led the
silly frightened sheep out of the way of passing
carts. Women with bright-coloured handkerchiefs
tied over their heads crowded round, carrying
baskets of fruit and vegetables from the country
round. Carts full of scarlet and yellow pumpkins
were driven noisily along. Whips cracked, people
shouted and talked as much with their hands as
with their lips, and all were eager to pass through
the great Etruscan gateway, which stood grim and
tall against the blue of the summer sky. Much
good service had that gateway seen, and it was as
strong as when it had been first built hundreds of
years before, and was still able to shut out an army
of enemies, if Perugia had need to defend herself.

Pietro and his father quickly threaded their way
through the crowd, and passed through the gateway
into the steep narrow street beyond. It was cool
and quiet here. The sun was shut out by the tall
houses, and the shadows lay so deep that one might
have thought it was the hour of twilight, but for the
peep of bright blue sky which showed between the
overhanging eaves above. Presently they reached
the great square market-place, where all again was
sunshine and bustle, with people shouting and selling
their wares, which they spread out on the ground
up to the very steps of the cathedral and all along 
in front of the Palazzo Publico. Here the man
stopped, and asked one of the passers-by if he could
direct him to the shop of Niccolo the painter.

`Yonder he dwells,' answered the citizen, and
pointed to a humble shop at the corner of the
market-place. `Hast thou brought the child to be
a model?'

Pietro held his head up proudly, and answered
quickly for himself.

`I am no longer a child,' he said; `and I have
come to work and not to sit idle.'

The man laughed and went his way, while father
and son hurried on towards the little shop and
entered the door.

The old painter was busy, and they had to wait
a while until he could leave his work and come to
see what they might want.

`This is the boy of whom I spoke,' said the
father as he pushed Pietro forward by his shoulder.
`He is not well grown, but he is strong, and has
learnt to endure hardness. I promise thee that he
will serve thee well if thou wilt take him as thy

The painter smiled down at the little eager face
which was waiting so anxiously for his answer.

`What canst thou do?' he asked the boy.

`Everything,' answered Pietro promptly. `I can
sweep out thy shop and cook thy dinner. I will
learn to grind thy colours and wash thy brushes,
and do a man's work.'

`In faith,' laughed the painter, `if thou canst do
everything, being yet so young, thou wilt soon be
the greatest man in Perugia, and bring great fame
to this fair city. Then will we call thee no longer
Pietro Vanucci, but thou shalt take the city's name,
and we will call thee Perugino.'

The master spoke in jest, but as time went on
and he watched the boy at work, he marvelled at
the quickness with which the child learned to
perform his new duties, and began to think the jest
might one day turn to earnest.

From early morning until sundown Pietro was
never idle, and when the rough work was done he
would stand and watch the master as he painted,
and listen breathless to the tales which Niccolo
loved to tell.

`There is nothing so great in all the world as the
art of painting,' the master would say. `It is the
ladder that leads up to heaven, the window which
lets light into the soul. A painter need never be
lonely or poor. He can create the faces he loves,
while all the riches of light and colour and beauty
are always his. If thou hast it in thee to be a
painter, my little Perugino, I can wish thee no
greater fortune.'

Then when the day's work was done and the
short spell of twilight drew near, the boy would
leave the shop and run swiftly down the narrow
street until he came to the grim old city gates.
Once outside, under the wide blue sky in the free
open air of the country, he drew a long, long breath
of pleasure, and quickly found a hidden corner in
the cleft of the hoary trunk of an olive-tree, where
no passer-by could see him. There he sat, his chin 
resting on his hands, gazing and gazing out over
the plain below, drinking in the beauty with his
hungry eyes.

How he loved that great open space of sweet
fresh air, in the calm pure light of the evening hour.
That white light, which seemed to belong more to
heaven than to earth, shone on everything around.
Away in the distance the purple hills faded into the
sunset sky. At his feet the plain stretched away,
away until it met the mountains, here and there
lifting itself in some little hill crowned by a lonely
town whose roofs just caught the rays of the setting
sun. The evening mist lay like a gossamer veil
upon the low-lying lands, and between the little
towns the long straight road could be seen, winding
like a white ribbon through the grey and silver, and
marked here and there by a dark cypress-tree or a
tall poplar. And always there would be a glint
of blue, where a stream or river caught the
reflection of the sky and held it lovingly there, like
a mirror among the rocks.

But Pietro did not have much time for idle
dreaming. His was not an easy life, for Niccolo
made but little money with his painting, and the
boy had to do all the work of the house besides
attending to the shop. But all the time he was
sweeping and dusting he looked forward to the
happy days to come when he might paint pictures
and become a famous artist.

Whenever a visitor came to the shop, Pietro
would listen eagerly to his talk and try to learn
something of the great world of Art. Sometimes he 
would even venture to ask questions, if the stranger
happened to be one who had travelled from afar.

`Where are the most beautiful pictures to be
found?' he asked one day when a Florentine painter
had come to the little shop and had been describing
the glories he had seen in other cities. `And where
is it that the greatest painters dwell?'

`That is an easy question to answer, my boy,' said
the painter. `All that is fairest is to be found in
Florence, the most beautiful city in all the world,
the City of Flowers. There one may find the best of
everything, but above all, the most beautiful pictures
and the greatest of painters. For no one there can
bear to do only the second best, and a man must
attain to the very highest before the Florentines
will call him great. The walls of the churches and
monasteries are covered with pictures of saints and
angels, and their beauty no words can describe.'

`I too will go to Florence, said Pietro to himself,
and every day he longed more and more to see that
wonderful city.

It was no use to wait until he should have saved
enough money to take him there. He scarcely
earned enough to live on from day to day. So at
last, poor as he was, he started off early one morning
and said good-bye to his old master and the hard
work of the little shop in Perugia. On he went
down the same long white road which had seemed
so endless to him that day when, as a little child, he
first came to Perugia. Even now, when he was
a strong young man, the way seemed long and
weary across that great plain, and he was often foot-
sore and discouraged. Day after day he travelled
on, past the great lake which lay like a sapphire in
the bosom of the plain, past many towns and little
villages, until at last he came in sight of the City
of Flowers.

It was a wonderful moment to Perugino, and he
held his breath as he looked. He had passed the brow
of the hill, and stood beside a little stream bordered
by a row of tall, straight poplars which showed
silvery white against the blue sky. Beyond, nestling
at the foot of the encircling hills, lay the city of his
dreams. Towers and palaces, a crowding together
of pale red sunbaked roofs, with the great dome of
the cathedral in the midst, and the silver thread
of the Arno winding its way between--all this he
saw, but he saw more than this. For it seemed to
him that the Spirit of Beauty hovered above the fair
city, and he almost heard the rustle of her wings
and caught a glimpse of her rainbow-tinted robe in
the light of the evening sky.

Poor Pietro! Here was the world he longed to
conquer, but he was only a poor country boy, and
how was he to begin to climb that golden ladder of
Art which led men to fame and glory?

Well, he could work, and that was always a
beginning. The struggle was hard, and for many a
month he often went hungry and had not even
a bed to lie on at night, but curled himself up on a
hard wooden chest. Then good fortune began to
smile upon him.

The Florentine artists to whose studios he went
began to notice the hardworking boy, and when 
they looked at his work, with all its faults and want
of finish, they saw in it that divine something called
genius which no one can mistake.

Then the doors of another world seemed to open
to Pietro. All day long he could now work at his
beloved painting and learn fresh wonders as he
watched the great men use the brush and pencil.
In the studio of the painter Verocchio he met the
men of whose fame he had so often heard, and whose
work he looked upon with awe and reverence.

There was the good-tempered monk of the Carmine,
Fra Filipo Lippi, the young Botticelli, and a youth
just his own age whom they called Leonardo da
Vinci, of whom it was whispered already that he
would some day be the greatest master of the

These were golden days for Perugino, as he was
called, for the name of the city where he had come
from was always now given to him. The pictures
he had longed to paint grew beneath his hand,
and upon his canvas began to dawn the solemn
dignity and open-air spaciousness of those evening
visions he had seen when he gazed across the
Umbrian Plain. There was no noise of battle, no
human passion in his pictures. His saints stood
quiet and solemn, single figures with just a thread
of interest binding them together, and always beyond
was the great wide open world, with the white light
shining in the sky, the blue thread of the river, and
the single trees pointing upwards--dark, solemn
cypress, or feathery larch or poplar.

There was much for the young painter still to
learn, and perhaps he learned most from the silent
teaching of that little dark chapel of the Carmine,
where Masaccio taught more wonderful lessons by
his frescoes than any living artist could teach.

Then came the crowning honour when Perugino
received an invitation from the Pope to go to Rome
and paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Hence
forth it was a different kind of life for the young
painter. No need to wonder where he would get
his next meal, no hard rough wooden chest on which
to rest his weary limbs when the day's work was
done. Now he was royally entertained and softly
lodged, and men counted it an honour to be in his

But though he loved Florence and was proud to
do his painting in Rome, his heart ever drew him
back to the city on the hill whose name he bore.

Again he travelled along the winding road, and
his heart beat fast as he drew nearer and saw the
familiar towers and roofs of Perugia. How well he
remembered that long-ago day when the cool touch
of the grass was so grateful to his little tired dusty
feet! He stooped again to fill his hands with the
sweet violets, and thought them sweeter than all the
fame and fair show of the gay cities.

And as he passed through the ancient gateway
and threaded his way up the narrow street towards
the little shop, he seemed to see once more the
kindly smile of his old master and to hear him say,
`Thou wilt soon be the greatest man in Perugia,
and we will call thee no longer Pietro Vanucci, but

So it had come to pass. Here he was. No longer
a little ragged, hungry boy, but a man whom all
delighted to honour. Truly this was a world of

A bigger studio was needed than the little old shop,
for now he had more pictures to paint than he well
knew how to finish. Then, too, he had many pupils,
for all were eager to enter the studio of the great
master. There it was that one morning a new
pupil was brought to him, a boy of twelve, whose
guardians begged that Perugino would teach and
train him.

Perugino looked with interest at the child. Seldom
had he seen such a beautiful oval face, framed by
such soft brown curls--a face so pure and lovable
that even at first sight it drew out love from the
hearts of those who looked at him.

`His father was also a painter,' said the guardian,
`and Raphael, here, has caught the trick of using his
pencil and brush, so we would have him learn of the
greatest master in the land.'

After some talk, the boy was left in the studio at
Perugia, and day by day Perugino grew to love him
more. It was not only that little Raphael was
clever and skilful, though that alone often made
the master marvel.

`He is my pupil now, but some day he will be
my master, and I shall learn of him,' Perugino
would often say as he watched the boy at work.
But more than all, the pure sweet nature and the
polished gentleness of his manners charmed the
heart of the master, and he loved to have the boy
always near him, and to teach him was his greatest

Those quiet days in the Perugia studio never
lasted very long. From all quarters came calls to
Perugino, and, much as he loved work, he could not
finish all that was wanted.

It happened once when he was in Florence that a
certain prior begged him to come and fresco the
walls of his convent. This prior was very famous
for making a most beautiful and expensive blue
colour which he was anxious should be used in the
painting of the convent walls. He was a mean,
suspicious man, and would not trust Perugino with
the precious blue colour, but always held it in his
own hands and grudgingly doled it out in small
quantities, torn between the desire to have the
colour on his walls and his dislike to parting with
anything so precious.

As Perugino noted this, he grew angry and
determined to punish the prior's meanness. The next
time therefore that there was a blue sky to be
painted, he put at his side a large bowl of fresh
water, and then called on the prior to put out a
small quantity of the blue colour in a little vase.
Each time he dipped his brush into the vase,
Perugino washed it out with a swirl in the bowl at
his side, so that most of the colour was left in the
water, and very little was put on to the picture.

`I pray thee fill the vase again with blue,' he said
carelessly when the colour was all gone. The prior
groaned aloud, and turned grudgingly to his little

`Oh what a quantity of blue is swallowed up by
this plaster!' he said, as he gazed at the white wall,
which scarcely showed a trace of the precious

`Yes,' said Perugino cheerfully, `thou canst see
thyself how it goes.'

Then afterwards, when the prior had sadly gone
off with his little empty bag, Perugino carefully
poured the water from the bowl and gathered
together the grains of colour which had sunk to the

`Here is something that belongs to thee,' he said
sternly to the astonished prior. `I would have thee
learn to trust honest men and not treat them as
thieves. For with all thy suspicious care, it was
easy to rob thee if I had had a mind.'

During all these years in which Perugino had
worked so diligently, the art of painting had been
growing rapidly. Many of the new artists shook
off the old rules and ideas, and began to paint in
quite a new way. There was one man especially,
called Michelangelo, whose story you will hear
later on, who arose like a giant, and with his new
way and greater knowledge swept everything before

Perugino was jealous of all these new ideas, and
clung more closely than ever to his old ideals, his
quiet, dignified saints, and spacious landscapes. He
talked openly of his dislike of the new style, and
once he had a serious quarrel with the great Michelangelo.

There was a gathering of painters in Perugino's
studio that day. Filippino Lippi, Botticelli,
Ghirlandaio, and Leonardo were there, and in the
background the pupil Raphael was listening to the

`What dost thou think of this new style of
painting?' asked Botticelli. `To me it seems but
strange and unpleasing. Music and motion are
delightful, but this violent twisting of limbs to show
the muscles offends my taste.'

`Yet it is most marvellously skilful,' said the
young Leonardo thoughtfully.

`But totally unfit for the proper picturing of
saints and the blessed Madonna,' said Filippino,
shaking his curly head.

`I never trouble myself about it,' said Ghirlandaio.
`Life is too short to attend to other men's work. It
takes all my care and attention to look after mine
own. But see, here comes the great Michelangelo
himself to listen to our criticism.'

The curious, rugged face of the great artist
looked good-naturedly on the company, but his
strong knotted hands waved aside their greetings.

`So you were busy as usual finding fault with my
work,' he said. `Come, friend Perugino, tell me
what thou hast found to grumble at.'

`I like not thy methods, and that I tell thee
frankly,' answered Perugino, an angry light shining
in his eyes. `It is such work as thine that drags
the art of painting down from the heights of
heavenly things to the low taste of earth. It robs
it of all dignity and restfulness, and destroys the
precious traditions handed down to us since the days
of Giotto.'

The face of Michelangelo grew angry and scornful
as he listened to this.

`Thou art but a dolt and a blockhead in Art,' he
said. `Thou wilt soon see that the day of thy
saints and Madonnas is past, and wilt cease to paint
them over and over again in the same manner, as a
child doth his lesson in a copy book.'

Then he turned and went out of the studio before
any one had time to answer him.

Perugino was furiously angry and would not
listen to reason, but must needs go before the great
Council and demand that they should punish
Michelangelo for his hard words. This of course
the Council refused to do, and Perugino left
Florence for Perugia, angry and sore at heart.

It seemed hard, after all his struggles and great
successes, that as he grew old people should begin
to tire of his work, which they had once thought
so perfect.

But if the outside world was sometimes
disappointing, he had always his home to turn to, and
his beautiful wife Chiare. He had married her in
his beloved Perugia, and she meant all the joy of
life to him. He was so proud of her beauty that he
would buy her the richest dresses and most costly
jewels, and with his own hands would deck her with
them. Her brown eyes were like the depths of
some quiet pool, her fair face and the wonderful
soul that shone there were to him the most perfect
picture in the world.

`I will paint thee once, that the world may be the
richer,' said Perugino, `but only once, for thy
beauty is too rare for common use. And I will
paint thee not as an earthly beauty, but thou shalt
be the angel in the story of Tobias which thou

So he painted her as he said. And in our own
National Gallery we still have the picture, and we
may see her there as the beautiful angel who leads
the little boy Tobias by the hand.

Up to the very last years of his life, Perugino
painted as diligently as he had ever done, but the
peaceful days of Perugia had long since given place
to war and tumult, both within and without the
city. Then too a terrible plague swept over the
countryside, and people died by thousands.

To the hospital of Fartignano, close to Perugia,
they carried Perugino when the deadly plague seized
him, and there he died. There was no time to think
of grand funerals; the people were buried as quickly
as possible, in whatever place lay closest at hand.

So it came to pass that Perugino was laid to rest
in an open field under an oak-tree close by. Later
on his sons wished to have him buried in holy
ground, and some say that this was done, but
nothing is known for certain. Perhaps if he could
have chosen, he would have been glad to think that
his body should rest under the shelter of the trees
he loved to paint, in that waste openness of space
which had always been his vision of beauty, since,
as a little boy, he gazed across the Umbrian Plain,
and the wonder of it sank into his soul.


On the sunny slopes of Monte Albano, between
Florence and Pisa, the little town of Vinci lay high
among the rocks that crowned the steep hillside. It
was but a little town. Only a few houses crowded
together round an old castle in the midst, and it
looked from a distance like a swallow's nest clinging
to the bare steep rocks.

Here in the year 1452 Leonardo, son of Ser Piero
da Vinci, was born. It was in the age when people
told fortunes by the stars, and when a baby was
born they would eagerly look up and decide whether
it was a lucky or unlucky star which shone upon
the child. Surely if it had been possible in this way
to tell what fortune awaited the little Leonardo, a
strange new star must have shone that night,
brighter than the others and unlike the rest in the
dazzling light of its strength and beauty.

Leonardo was always a strange child. Even his
beauty was not like that of other children. He had
the most wonderful waving hair, falling in regular
ripples, like the waters of a fountain, the colour of
bright gold, and soft as spun silk. His eyes were
blue and clear, with a mysterious light in them, not
the warm light of a sunny sky, but rather the blue
that glints in the iceberg. They were merry eyes
too, when he laughed, but underneath was always
that strange cold look. There was a charm about
his smile which no one could resist, and he was a
favourite with all. Yet people shook their heads
sometimes as they looked at him, and they talked in
whispers of the old witch who had lent her goat to
nourish the little Leonardo when he was a baby.
The woman was a dealer in black magic, and who
knew but that the child might be a changeling?

It was the old grandmother, Mona Lena, who
brought Leonardo up and spoilt him not a little.
His father, Ser Piero, was a lawyer, and spent most
of his time in Florence, but when he returned to the
old castle of Vinci, he began to give Leonardo
lessons and tried to find out what the boy was fit for.
But Leonardo hated those lessons and would not
learn, so when he was seven years old he was sent to

This did not answer any better. The rough play
of the boys was not to his liking. When he saw
them drag the wings off butterflies, or torture any
animal that fell into their hands, his face grew white
with pain, and he would take no share in their
games. The Latin grammar, too, was a terrible task,
while the many things he longed to know no one
taught him.

So it happened that many a time, instead of going
to school, he would slip away and escape up into the
hills, as happy as a little wild goat. Here was all
the sweet fresh air of heaven, instead of the stuffy
schoolroom. Here were no cruel, clumsy boys, but
all the wild creatures that he loved. Here he could
learn the real things his heart was hungry to know,
not merely words which meant nothing and led to

For hours he would lie perfectly still with his
heels in the air and his chin resting in his hands, as
he watched a spider weaving its web, breathless with
interest to see how the delicate threads were turned
in and out. The gaily painted butterflies, the fat
buzzing bees, the little sharp-tongued green lizards,
he loved to watch them all, but above everything he
loved the birds. Oh, if only he too had wings to
dart like the swallows, and swoop and sail and dart
again! What was the secret power in their wings?
Surely by watching he might learn it. Sometimes
it seemed as if his heart would burst with the longing
to learn that secret. It was always the hidden
reason of things that he desired to know. Much as
he loved the flowers he must pull their petals of, one
by one, to see how each was joined, to wonder at the
dusty pollen, and touch the honey-covered stamens.
Then when the sun began to sink he would turn
sadly homewards, very hungry, with torn clothes and
tired feet, but with a store of sunshine in his heart.

His grandmother shook her head when Leonardo
appeared after one of his days of wandering.

`I know thou shouldst be whipped for playing
truant,' she said; `and I should also punish thee for
tearing thy clothes.'

`Ah! but thou wilt not whip me,' answered
Leonardo, smiling at her with his curious quiet smile,
for he had full confidence in her love.

`Well, I love to see thee happy, and I will not
punish thee this time,' said his grandmother; `but
if these tales reach thy father's ears, he will not be
so tender as I am towards thee.'

And, sure enough, the very next time that a
complaint was made from the school, his father happened
to be at home, and then the storm burst.

`Next time I will flog thee,' said Ser Piero sternly,
with rising anger at the careless air of the boy.
`Meanwhile we will see what a little imprisonment
will do towards making thee a better child.'

Then he took the boy by the shoulders and led
him to a little dark cupboard under the stairs, and
there shut him up for three whole days.

There was no kicking or beating at the locked
door. Leonardo sat quietly there in the dark, thinking
his own thoughts, and wondering why there seemed
so little justice in the world. But soon even that
wonder passed away, and as usual when he was alone
he began to dream dreams of the time when he
should have learned the swallows' secrets and should
have wings like theirs.

But if there were complaints about Leonardo's
dislike of the boys and the Latin grammar, there
would be none about the lessons he chose to learn.
Indeed, some of the masters began to dread the boy's
eager questions, which were sometimes more than
they could answer. Scarcely had he begun the
study of arithmetic than he made such rapid
progress, and wanted to puzzle out so many problems,
that the masters were amazed. His mind seemed
always eagerly asking for more light, and was never

But it was out on the hillside that he spent his
happiest hours. He loved every crawling, creeping,
or flying thing, however ugly. Curious beasts which
might have frightened another child were to him
charming and interesting. There as he listened to
the carolling of the birds and bent his head to catch
the murmured song of the mountain-streams, the
love of music began to steal into his heart.

He did not rest then until he managed to get a
lute and learned how to play upon it. And when he
had mastered the notes and learned the rules of
music, he began to play airs which no one had ever
heard before, and to sing such strange sweet songs
that the golden notes flowed out as fresh and clear
as the song of a lark in the early morning of spring.

`The child is a changeling,' said some, as they
saw Leonardo tenderly lift a crushed lizard in his
hand, or watched him play with a spotted snake or
great hairy spider.

`A changeling perhaps,' said others, `but one that
hath the voice of an angel.' For every one stopped
to listen when the boy's voice was heard singing
through the streets of the little town.

He was a puzzle to every one, and yet a delight
to all, even when they understood him least.

So time went on, and when Leonardo was thirteen
his father took him away to Florence that he might
begin to be trained for some special work. But
what work? Ah! that was the rub. The boy
could do so many things well that it was difficult to
fix on one.

At that time there was living in Florence an old 
man who knew a great deal about the stars, and who
made wonderful calculations about them. He was
a famous astronomer, but he cared not at all for
honour or fame, but lived a simple quiet life by
himself and would not mix with the gay world.

Few visitors ever came to see him, for it was known
that he would receive no one, and so it was a great
surprise to old Toscanelli when one night a gentle
knock sounded at his door, and a boy walked quietly
in and stood before him.

Hastily the old man looked up, and his first
thought was to ask the child how he dared enter
without leave, and then ask him to be gone, but as
he looked at the fair face he felt the charm of the
curious smile, and the light in the blue eyes, and
instead he laid his hand upon the boy's golden head
and said: `What dost thou seek, my son?'

`I would learn all that thou canst teach me,' said
Leonardo, for it was he.

The old man smiled.

`Behold the boundless self-confidence of youth!'
he said.

But as they talked together, and the boy asked his
many eager questions, a great wonder awoke in the
astronomer's mind, and his eyes shone with interest.
This child-mind held depths of understanding such
as he had never met with among his learned friends.
Day after day the old man and the boy bent eagerly
together over their problems, and when night fell
Toscanelli would take the child up with him to his
lonely tower above Florence, and teach him to know
the stars and to understand many things.

`This is all very well,' said Ser Piero, `but the boy
must do more than mere star-gazing. He must earn
a living for himself, and methinks we might make a
painter of him.'

That very day, therefore, he gathered together
some of Leonardo's drawings which lay carelessly
scattered about, and took them to the studio of
Verocchio the painter, who lived close by the Ponte

`Dost thou think thou canst make aught of the
boy?' he asked, spreading out the drawings before

The painter's quick eyes examined the work with
deep interest.

`Send him to me at once,' he said. `This is
indeed marvellous talent.'

So Leonardo entered the studio as a pupil, and
learned all that could be taught him with the same
quickness with which he learned anything that he
cared to know.

Every one who saw his work declared that he
would be the wonder of the age, but Verocchio
shook his head.

`He is too wonderful,' he said. `He aims at too
great perfection. He wants to know everything
and do everything, and life is too short for that.
He finishes nothing, because he is ever starting to
do something else.'

Verocchio's words were true; the boy seldom
worked long at one thing. His hands were never
idle, and often, instead of painting, he would carve
out tiny windmills and curious toys which worked 
with pulleys and ropes, or made exquisite little clay
models of horses and all the other animals that he
loved. But he never forgot the longing that had
filled his heart when he was a child--the desire to
learn the secret of flying.

For days he would sit idle and think of nothing
but soaring wings, then he would rouse himself and
begin to make some strange machine which he
thought might hold the secret that he sought.

`A waste of time,' growled Verocchio. `See here,
thou wouldst be better employed if thou shouldst
set to work and help me finish this picture of the
Baptism for the good monks of Vallambrosa. Let
me see how thou canst paint in the kneeling figure
of the angel at the side.'

For a while the boy stood motionless before the
picture as if he was looking at something far away.
Then he seized the brushes with his left hand and
began to paint with quick certain sweep. He
never stopped to think, but worked as if the angel
were already there, and he were but brushing away
the veil that hid it from the light.

Then, when it was done, the master came and
looked silently on. For a moment a quick stab of
jealousy ran through his heart. Year after year
had he worked and striven to reach his ideal. Long
days of toil and weary nights had he spent, winning
each step upwards by sheer hard work. And here
was this boy without an effort able to rise far above
him. All the knowledge which the master had
groped after, had been grasped at once by the
wonderful mind of the pupil. But the envious 
feeling passed quickly away, and Verocchio laid his
hand upon Leonardo's shoulder.

`I have found my master,' he said quietly, `and
I will paint no more.'

Leonardo scarcely seemed to hear; he was thinking
of something else now, and he seldom noticed
if people praised or blamed him. His thoughts had
fixed themselves upon something he had seen that
morning which had troubled him. On the way to
the studio he had passed a tiny shop in a narrow
street where a seller of birds was busy hanging his
cages up on the nails fastened to the outside wall.

The thought of those poor little prisoners beating
their wings against the cruel bars and breaking their
hearts with longing for their wild free life, had
haunted him all day, and now he could bear it no
longer. He seized his cap and hurried off, all
forgetful of his kneeling angel and the master's

He reached the little shop and called to the man

`How much wilt thou take for thy birds?' he
cried, and pointed to the little wooden cages that
hung against the wall.

`Plague on them,' answered the man, `they will
often die before I can make a sale by them. Thou
canst have them all for one silver piece.'

In a moment Leonardo had paid the money and
had turned towards the row of little cages. One
by one he opened the doors and set the prisoners
free, and those that were too frightened or timid to
fly away, he gently drew out with his hand, and sent 
them gaily whirling up above his head into the blue

The man looked with blank astonishment at the
empty cages, and wondered if the handsome young
man was mad. But Leonardo paid no heed to him,
but stood gazing up until every one of the birds
had disappeared.

`Happy things,' he said, with a sigh. `Will you
ever teach me the secret of your wings, I wonder?'

It was with great pleasure that Ser Piero heard of
his son's success at Verocchio's studio, and he began
to have hopes that the boy would make a name for
himself after all. It happened just then that he was
on a visit to his castle at Vinci, and one morning a
peasant who lived on the estate came to ask a great
favour of him.

He had bought a rough wooden shield which he
was very anxious should have a design painted on
it in Florence, and he begged Ser Piero to see that
it was done. The peasant was a faithful servant,
and very useful in supplying the castle with fish and
game, so Ser Piero was pleased to grant him his

`Leonardo shall try his hand upon it. It is time
he became useful to me,' said Ser Piero to himself.
So on his return to Florence he took the shield to
his son.

It was a rough, badly-shaped shield, so Leonardo
held it to the fire and began to straighten it. For
though his hands looked delicate and beautifully
formed, they were as strong as steel, and he could
bend bars of iron without an effort. Then he sent 
the shield to a turner to be smoothed and rounded,
and when it was ready he sat down to think what
he should paint upon it, for he loved to draw strange

`I will make it as terrifying as the head of
Medusa,' he said at last, highly delighted with the
plan that had come into his head.

Then he went out and collected together all the
strangest animals he could find--lizards, hedgehogs,
newts, snakes, dragon-flies, locusts, bats, and glow-
worms. These he took into his own room, which
no one was allowed to enter, and began to paint from
them a curious monster, partly a lizard and partly
a bat, with something of each of the other animals
added to it.

When it was ready Leonardo hung the shield in
a good light against a dark curtain, so that the
painted monster stood out in brilliant contrast, and
looked as if its twisted curling limbs were full of life.

A knock sounded at the door, and Ser Piero's
voice was heard outside asking if the shield was

`Come in,' cried Leonardo, and Ser Piero

He cast one look at the monster hanging there
and then uttered a cry and turned to flee, but
Leonardo caught hold of his cloak and laughingly
told him to look closer.

`If I have really succeeded in frightening thee,'
he said, `I have indeed done all I could desire.'

His father could scarcely believe that it was
nothing but a painting, and he was so proud of the
work that he would not part with it, but gave the
peasant of Vinci another shield instead.

Leonardo then began a drawing for a curtain
which was to be woven in silk and gold and given
as a present from the Florentines to the King of
Portugal, and he also began a large picture of the
Adoration of the Shepherds which was never

The young painter grew restless after a while, and
felt the life of the studio narrow and cramped.
He longed to leave Florence and find work in some
new place.

He was not a favourite at the court of Lorenzo
the Magnificent as Filippino Lippi and Botticelli
were. Lorenzo liked those who would flatter him
and do as they were bid, while Leonardo took his
own way in everything and never said what he did
not mean.

But it happened that just then Lorenzo wished
to send a present to Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of
Milan, and the gift he chose was a marvellous
musical instrument which Leonardo had just

It was a silver lute, made in the form of a horse's
head, the most curious and beautiful thing ever seen.
Lorenzo was charmed with it.

`Thou shalt take it thyself, as my messenger,' he
said to Leonardo. `I doubt if another can be found
who can play upon it as thou dost.'

So Leonardo set out for Milan, and was glad to
shake himself free from the narrow life of the
Florentine studio.

Before starting, however, he had written a letter
to the Duke setting down in simple order all the
things he could do, and telling of what use he could
be in times of war and in days of peace.

There seemed nothing that he could not do. He
could make bridges, blow up castles, dig canals,
invent a new kind of cannon, build warships, and
make underground passages. In days of peace he
could design and build houses, make beautiful
statues and paint pictures `as well as any man, be
he who he may.'

The letter was written in curious writing from
right to left like Hebrew or Arabic. This was how
Leonardo always wrote, using his left hand, so that
it could only be read by holding the writing up to
a mirror.

The Duke was half amazed and half amused when
the letter reached him.

`Either these are the words of a fool, or of a man
of genius,' said the Duke. And when he had once
seen and spoken to Leonardo he saw at once which
of the two he deserved to be called.

Every one at the court was charmed with the
artist's beautiful face and graceful manners. His
music alone, as he swept the strings of the silver
lute and sang to it his own songs, would have
brought him fame, but the Duke quickly saw that
this was no mere minstrel.

It was soon arranged therefore that Leonardo
should take up his abode at the court of Milan
and receive a yearly pension from the Duke.

Sometimes the pension was paid, and sometimes
it was forgotten, but Leonardo never troubled about
money matters. Somehow or other he must have
all that he wanted, and everything must be fair
and dainty. His clothes were always rich and
costly, but never bright-coloured or gaudy. There
was no plume or jewelled brooch in his black velvet
beretto or cap, and the only touch of colour was
his golden hair, and the mantle of dark red cloth
which he wore in the fashion of the Florentines,
thrown across his shoulder. Above all, he must
always have horses in his stables, for he loved them
more than human beings.

Many were the plans and projects which the
Duke entrusted to Leonardo's care, but of all that
he did, two great works stand out as greater than
all the rest. One was the painting of the Last
Supper on the walls of the refectory of Santa Maria
delle Grazie, and the other the making of a model
of a great equestrian statue, a bronze horse with
the figure of the Duke upon its back.

`Year after year Leonardo worked at that wonderful
fresco of the Last Supper. Sometimes for weeks
or months he never touched it, but he always
returned to it again. Then for days he would
work from morning till night, scarcely taking time
to eat, and able to think of nothing else, until
suddenly he would put down his brushes and stand
silently for a long, long time before the picture.
It seemed as if he was wasting the precious hours
doing nothing, but in truth he worked more
diligently with his brain when his hands were idle.

Often too when he worked at the model for the 
great bronze horse, he would suddenly stop, and
walk quickly through the streets until he came to
the refectory, and there, catching up his brushes,
he would paint in one or perhaps two strokes, and
then return to his modelling.

Besides all this Leonardo was busy with other
plans for the Duke's amusement, and no court fete
was counted successful without his help. Nothing
seemed too difficult for him to contrive, and what
he did was always new and strange and wonderful.

Once when the King of France came as a guest
to Milan, Leonardo prepared a curious model of a
lion, which by some inside machinery was able to
walk forward several steps to meet the King, and
then open wide its huge jaws and display inside a
bed of sweet-scented lilies, the emblem of France,
to do honour to her King. But while working at
other things Leonardo never forgot his longing
to learn the secret art of flying. Every now and
then a new idea would come into his head, and he
would lay aside all other work until he had made
the new machine which might perhaps act as the
wings of a bird. Each fresh disappointment only
made him more keen to try again.

`I know we shall some day have wings,' he said
to his pupils, who sometimes wondered at the
strange work of the master's hands. `It is only a
question of knowing how to make them. I
remember once when I was a baby lying in my
cradle, I fancied a bird flew to me, opened my lips
and rubbed its feathers over them. So it seems to
be my fate all my life to talk of wings.'

Very slowly the great fresco of the Last Supper
grew under the master's hand until it was nearly
finished. The statue, too, was almost completed,
and then evil days fell upon Milan. The Duke was
obliged to flee before the French soldiers, who
forced their way into the town and took possession
of it. Before any one could prevent it, the soldiers
began to shoot their arrows at the great statue,
which they used as a target, and in a few hours the
work of sixteen years was utterly destroyed. It is
sadder still to tell the fate of Leonardo's fresco, the
greatest picture perhaps that ever was painted.
Dampness lurked in the wall and began to dim and
blur the colours. The careless monks cut a door
through the very centre of the picture, and, later on,
when Napoleon's soldiers entered Milan, they used
the refectory as a stable, and amused themselves by
throwing stones at what remained of it. But though
little of it is left now to be seen, there is still enough
to make us stand in awe and reverence before the
genius of the great master.

Not far from Milan there lived a friend of
Leonardo's, whom the master loved to visit. This
Girolamo Melzi had a son called Francesco, a little
motherless boy, who adored the great painter with
all his heart.

Together Leonardo and the child used to wander
out to search for curious animals and rare flowers,
and as they watched the spiders weave their webs
and pulled the flowers to pieces to find out their
secrets, the boy listened with wide wondering eyes
to all the tales which the painter told him. And 
at night Leonardo wrapped the little one close
inside his warm cloak and carried him out to see
the stars--those same stars which old Toscanelli had
taught him to love long ago in Florence. Then
when the day of parting came the child clung
round the master's neck and would not let him go.

`Take me with thee,' he cried, `do not leave me
behind all alone.'

`I cannot take thee now, little one,' said
Leonardo gently. `Thou art still too small, but later
on thou shalt come to me and be my pupil. This I
promise thee.'

It was but a weary wandering life that awaited
Leonardo after he was forced to leave his home
in Milan. It seemed as if it was his fate to begin
many things but to finish nothing. For a while
he lived in Rome, but he did little real work there.

For several years he lived in Florence and began
to paint a huge battle-picture. There too he painted
the famous portrait of Mona Lisa, which is now in
Paris. Of all portraits that have ever been painted
this is counted the most wonderful and perfect
piece of work, although Leonardo himself called it

By this time the master had fallen on evil days.
All his pupils were gone, and his friends seemed to
have forgotten him. He was sitting before the
fire one stormy night, lonely and sad, when the
door opened and a tall handsome lad came in.

`Master!' he cried, and kneeling down he kissed
the old man's hands. `Dost thou not know me?
I am thy little Francesco, come to claim thy
promise that I should one day be thy servant and

Leonardo laid his hand upon the boy's fair head
and looked into his face.

`I am growing old,' he said, `and I can no longer
do for thee what I might once have done. I am
but a poor wanderer now. Dost thou indeed wish
to cast in thy lot with mine?'

`I care only to be near thee,' said the boy. `I
will go with thee to the ends of the earth.'

So when, soon after, Leonardo received an
invitation from the new King of France, he took the
boy with him, and together they made their home
in the little chateau of Claux near the town of

The master's hair was silvered now, and his long
beard was as white as snow. His keen blue eyes
looked weary and tired of life, and care had drawn
many deep lines on his beautiful face. Sad thoughts
were always his company. The one word `failure'
seemed to be written across his life. What had
he done? He had begun many things and had
finished but few. His great fresco was even now
fading away and becoming dim and blurred. His
model for the marvellous horse was destroyed. A
few pictures remained, but these had never quite
reached his ideal. The crowd who had once hailed
him as the greatest of all artists, could now only
talk of Michelangelo and the young Raphael.
Michelangelo himself had once scornfully told him
he was a failure and could finish nothing.

He was glad to leave Italy and all its memories 
behind, and he hoped to begin work again in his
quiet little French home. But Death was drawing
near, and before many years had passed he grew too
weak to hold a brush or pencil.

It was in the springtime of the year that the
end came. Francesco had opened the window and
gently lifted the master in his strong young arms,
that he might look once more on the outside world
which he loved so dearly. The trees were putting
on their dainty dress of tender green, white clouds
swept across the blue sky, and April sunshine
flooded the room.

As he looked out, the master's tired eyes woke
into life.

`Look!' he cried, `the swallows have come
back! Oh that they would lend me their wings
that I might fly away and be at rest!'

The swallows darted and circled about in the
clear spring air, busy with their building plans, but
Francesco thought he heard the rustle of other
wings, as the master's soul, freed from the tired
body, was at last borne upwards higher than any
earthly wings could soar.


Among the marvellous tales of the Arabian Nights,
there is a story told of a band of robbers who, by
whispering certain magic words, were able to open
the door of a secret cave where treasures of gold and
silver and precious jewels lay hid. Now, although
the day of such delightful marvels is past and gone,
yet there still remains a certain magic in some
names which is able to open the secret doors of the
hidden haunts of beauty and delight.

For most people the very name of `Raphael' is
like the `Open Sesame' of the robber chief in the
old story. In a moment a door seems to open out
of the commonplace everyday world, and through it
they see a stretch of fair sweet country. There
their eyes rest upon gentle, dark-eyed Madonnas,
who smile down lovingly upon the heavenly Child,
playing at her side or resting in her arms. The
little St. John is also there, companion of the Infant
Christ; rosy, round-limbed children both, half
human and half divine. And standing in the background
are a crowd of grave, quiet figures, each one
alive with interest, while over all there is a glow of
intense vivid colour.

We know but little of the everyday life of this
great artist. When we hear his name, it is of his 
different pictures that we think at once, for they
are world-famous. We almost forget the man as
we gaze at his work.

It was in the little village of Urbino, in Umbria,
that Raphael was born. His father was a painter
called Giovanni Santi, and from him Raphael
inherited his love of Art. His mother, Magia, was a
sweet, gracious woman, and the little Raphael was
like her in character and beauty. It seemed as if
the boy had received every good gift that Nature
could bestow. He had a lovely oval face, and soft
dark eyes that shone with a beauty that was more
of heaven than earth, and told of a soul which was as
pure and lovely as his face. Above all, he had the
gift of making every one love him, so that his should
have been a happy sunshiny life.

But no one can ever escape trouble, and when
Raphael was only eight years old, the first cloud
overspread his sky. His mother died, and soon
after his father married again.

The new mother was very young, and did not
care much for children, but Raphael did not mind
that as long as he could be with his father. But
three years later a blacker cloud arose and blotted
out the sunshine from his life, for his father too died,
and left him all alone.

The boy had loved his father dearly, and it had
been his great delight to be with him in the studio,
to learn to grind and mix the colours and watch
those wonderful pictures grow from day to day.

But now all was changed. The quiet studio rang
with angry voices, and the peaceful home was the
scene of continual quarrelling. Who was to have
the money, and how were the Santi estates to be
divided? Stepmother and uncle wrangled from
morning until night, and no one gave a thought to
the child Raphael. It was only the money that

Then when it seemed that the boy's training was
going to be totally neglected, kindly help arrived.
Simone di Ciarla, brother of Raphael's own mother,
came to look after his little nephew, and ere long
carried him off from the noisy, quarrelsome household,
and took him to Perugia.

`Thou shalt have the best teaching in all Italy,'
said Simone as they walked through the streets of
the town. `The great master to whose studio we
go, can hold his own even among the artists of
Florence. See that thou art diligent to learn all
that he can teach thee, so that thou mayest become
as great a painter as thy father.'

`Am I to be the pupil of the great Perugino?'
asked Raphael, his eyes shining with pleasure. `I
have often heard my father speak of his marvellous

`We will see if he can take thee,' answered his

The boy's heart sunk. What if the master refused
to take him as a pupil? Must he return to idleness
and the place which was no longer home?

But soon his fears were set at rest. Perugino,
like every one else, felt the charm of that beautiful
face and gentle manner, and when he had seen some
drawings which the boy had done, he agreed readily
that Raphael should enter the studio and become
his pupil.

Perugia had been passing through evil times
just before this. The two great parties of the Oddi
and Baglioni families were always at war together.
Whichever of them happened to be the stronger
held the city and drove out the other party, so that
the fighting never ceased either inside or outside
the gates. The peaceful country round about had
been laid waste and desolate. The peasants did
not dare go out to till their fields or prune their
olive-trees. Mothers were afraid to let their
little ones out of their sight, for hungry wolves
and other wild beasts prowled about the deserted

Then came a day when the outside party
managed to creep silently into the city, and the
most terrible fight of all began. So long and
fiercely did the battle rage that almost all the Oddi
were killed. Then for a time there was peace in
Perugia and all the country round.

So it happened that as soon as the people of
Perugia had time to think of other things besides
fighting, they began to wish that their town might
be put in order, and that the buildings which had
been injured during the struggles might be restored.

This was a good opportunity for peaceful men
like Perugino, for there was much work to be done,
and both he and his pupils were kept busy from
morning till night.

Of all his pupils, Perugino loved the young 
Raphael best. He saw at once that this was no
ordinary boy.

`He is my pupil now, but soon he will be my
master,' he used to say as he watched the boy at

So he taught him with all possible carefulness,
and was never tired of giving him good advice.

`Learn first of all to draw,' he would say, when
Raphael looked with longing eyes at the colours and
brushes of the master. `Draw everything you see,
no matter what it is, but always draw and draw
again. The rest will follow; but if the knowledge
of drawing be lacking, nothing will afterwards
succeed. Keep always at hand a sketch-book, and
draw therein carefully every manner of thing that
meets thy eye.'

Raphael never forgot the good advice of his
master. He was never without a sketch-book, and
his drawings now are almost as interesting as his
great pictures, for they show the first thought that
came into his mind, before the picture was composed.

So the years passed on, and Raphael learned all
that the master could teach him. At first his
pictures were so like Perugino's, that it was difficult
to know whether they were the work of the master
or the pupil.

But the quiet days at Perugia soon came to an
end, and Perugino went back to Florence. For
some time Raphael worked at different places near
Perugia, and then followed his master to the City
of Flowers, where every artist longed to go. Though 
he was still but a young man, the world had already
begun to notice his work, and Florence gladly
welcomed a new artist.

It was just at that time that Leonardo da Vinci's
fame was at its height, and when Raphael was
shown some of the great man's work, he was filled
with awe and wonder. The genius of Leonardo
held him spellbound.

`It is what I have dreamed of in my dreams,' he
said. `Oh that I might learn his secret!'

Little by little the new ideas sunk into his heart,
and the pictures he began to paint were no longer
like those of his old master Perugino, but seemed to
breathe some new spirit.

It was always so with Raphael. He seemed to
be able to gather the best from every one, just as the
bee goes from flower to flower and gathers its sweetness
into one golden honeycomb. Only the genius
of Raphael made all that he touched his very own,
and the spirit of his pictures is unlike that of any
other master.

For many years after this he lived in Rome,
where now his greatest frescoes may be seen--
frescoes so varied and wonderful that many books
have been written about them.

There he first met Margarita, the young maiden
whom he loved all his life. It is her face which
looks down upon us from the picture of the Sistine
Madonna, perhaps the most famous Madonna that
ever was painted. The little room in the Dresden
Gallery where this picture now hangs seems almost
like a holy place, for surely there is something 
divine in that fair face. There she stands, the
Queen of Heaven, holding in her arms the Infant
Christ, with such a strange look of majesty and
sadness in her eyes as makes us realise that she was
indeed fit to be the Mother of our Lord.

But the picture which all children love best is one
in Florence called `The Madonna of the Goldfinch.'

It is a picture of the Holy Family, the Infant
Jesus, His mother, and the little St. John. The
Christ Child is a dear little curly-headed baby, and
He stands at His mother's knee with one little bare
foot resting on hers. His hand is stretched out
protectingly over a yellow goldfinch which St. John,
a sturdy little figure clad in goatskins, has just
brought to Him. The baby face is full of tender
love and care for the little fluttering prisoner, and
His curved hand is held over its head to protect it.

`Do not hurt My bird,' He seems to say to the
eager St. John, `for it belongs to Me and to My

These are only two of the many pictures which
Raphael painted. It is wonderful to think how
much work he did in his short life, for he died when
he was only thirty-seven. He had been at work at
St. Peter's, giving directions about some alterations,
and there he was seized by a severe chill, and in a
few days the news spread like wildfire through the
country that Raphael was dead.

It seemed almost as if it could not be true. He
had been so full of life and health, so eager for work,
such a living power among men.

But there he lay, beautiful in death as he had
been in life, and over his head was hung the picture
of the `Transfiguration,' on which he had been at
work, its colours yet wet, never to be finished by that
still hand.

All Rome flocked to his funeral, and high and
low mourned his loss. But he left behind him a
fame which can never die, a name which through
all these four hundred years has never lost the magic
of its greatness.


Sometimes in a crowd of people one sees a tall man,
who stands head and shoulders higher than any one
else, and who can look far over the heads of ordinary-
sized mortals.

`What a giant!' we exclaim, as we gaze up and see
him towering above us.

So among the crowd of painters travelling along
the road to Fame we see above the rest a giant,
a greater and more powerful genius than any that
came before or after him. When we hear the name
of Michelangelo we picture to ourselves a great
rugged, powerful giant, a veritable son of thunder,
who, like the Titans of old, bent every force of Nature
to his will.

This Michelangelo was born at Caprese among the
mountains of Casentino. His father, Lodovico
Buonarroti, was podesta or mayor of Caprese, and came
of a very ancient and honourable family, which had
often distinguished itself in the service of Florence.

Now the day on which the baby was born happened
to be not only a Sunday, but also a morning when
the stars were especially favourable. So the wise
men declared that some heavenly virtue was sure
to belong to a child born at that particular time, and
without hesitation Lodovico determined to call his
little son Michael Angelo, after the archangel Michael.
Surely that was a name splendid enough to adorn
any great career.

It happened just then that Lodovico's year of
office ended, and so he returned with his wife and
child to Florence. He had a property at Settignano,
a little village just outside the city, and there he
settled down.

Most of the people of the village were stone-
cutters, and it was to the wife of one of these
labourers that little Michelangelo was sent to be
nursed. So in after years the great master often
said that if his mind was worth anything, he owed
it to the clear pure mountain air in which he was
born, just as he owed his love of carving stone to
the unconscious influence of his nurse, the stone-
cutter's wife.

As the boy grew up he clearly showed in what
direction his interest lay. At school he was something
of a dunce at his lessons, but let him but have
a pencil and paper and his mind was wide awake
at once. Every spare moment he spent making
sketches on the walls of his father's house.

But Lodovico would not hear of the boy becoming
an artist. There were many children to provide for,
and the family was not rich. It would be much
more fitting that Michelangelo should go into the
silk and woollen business and learn to make money.

But it was all in vain to try to make the boy see
the wisdom of all this. Scold as they might, he
cared for nothing but his pencil, and even after he
was severely beaten he would creep back to his 
beloved work. How he envied his friend Francesco
who worked in the shop of Master Ghirlandaio! It
was a joy even to sit and listen to the tales of the
studio, and it was a happy day when Francesco
brought some of the master's drawings to show to
his eager friend.

Little by little Lodovico began to see that there
was nothing for it but to give way to the boy's wishes,
and so at last, when he was fourteen years old,
Michelangelo was sent to study as a pupil in the studio
of Master Ghirlandaio.

It was just at the time when Ghirlandaio was
painting the frescoes of the chapel in Santa Maria Novella,
and Michelangelo learned many lessons as he watched
the master at work, or even helped with the less
important parts.

But it was like placing an eagle in a hawk's nest.
The young eagle quickly learned to soar far higher
than the hawk could do, and ere long began to
`sweep the skies alone.'

It was not pleasant for the great Florentine
master, whose work all men admired, to have his
drawings corrected by a young lad, and perhaps
Michelangelo was not as humble as he should have
been. In the strength of his great knowledge he
would sometimes say sharp and scornful things, and
perhaps he forgot the respect due from pupil to

Be that as it may, he left Ghirlandaio's studio when
he was sixteen years old, and never had another
master. Thenceforward he worked out his own ideas
in his giant strength, and was the pupil of none.

The boy Francesco was still his friend, and
together they went to study in the gardens of San
Marco, where Lorenzo the Magnificent had collected
many statues and works of art. Here was a new
field for Michelangelo. Without needing a lesson
he began to copy the statues in terra-cotta, and so
clever was his work that Lorenzo was delighted
with it.

`See, now, what thou canst do with marble,' he
said. `Terra-cotta is but poor stuff to work in.'

Michelangelo had never handled a chisel before,
but he chipped and cut away the marble so marvellously
that life seemed to spring out of the stone.
There was a marble head of an old faun in the
garden, and this Michelangelo set himself to copy.
Such a wonderful copy did he make that Lorenzo
was amazed. It was even better than the original,
for the boy had introduced ideas of his own and had
made the laughing mouth a little open to show the
teeth and the tongue of the faun. Lorenzo noticed
this, and turned with a smile to the young artist.

`Thou shouldst have remembered that old folks
never keep all their teeth, but that some of them
are always wanting,' he said.

Of course Lorenzo meant this as a joke, but
Michelangelo immediately took his hammer and struck out
several of the teeth, and this too pleased Lorenzo

There was nothing that the Magnificent ruler
loved so much as genius, so Michelangelo was received
into the palace and made the companion of Lorenzo's
sons. Not only did good fortune thus smile upon the 
young artist, but to his great astonishment Lodovico
too found that benefits were showered upon him, all
for the sake of his famous young son.

These years of peace, and calm, steady work had the
greatest effect on Michelangelo's work, and he learned
much from the clever, brilliant men who thronged
Lorenzo's court. Then, too, he first listened to that
ringing voice which strove to raise Florence to a
sense of her sins, when Savonarola preached his great
sermons in the Duomo. That teaching sank deep
into the heart of Michelangelo, and years afterwards
he left on the walls of the Sistine Chapel a living
echo of those thundering words.

Like all the other artists, he would often go to
study Masaccio's frescoes in the little chapel of
the Carmine. There was quite a band of young
artists working there, and very soon they began to
look with envious feelings at Michelangelo's drawings,
and their jealousy grew as his fame increased. At
last, one day, a youth called Torriggiano could bear
it no longer, and began to make scornful remarks,
and worked himself up into such a rage that he
aimed a blow at Michelangelo with his fist, which
not only broke his nose but crushed it in such a way
that he was marked for life. He had had a rough,
rugged look before this, but now the crooked nose
gave him almost a savage expression which he never

Changes followed fast after this time of quiet.
Lorenzo the Magnificent died, and his son, the weak
Piero de Medici, tried to take his place as ruler of
Florence. For a time Michelangelo continued to live 
at the court of Piero, but it was not encouraging to
work for a master whose foolish taste demanded
statues to be made out of snow, which, of course,
melted at the first breath of spring.

Michelangelo never forgot all that he owed to
Lorenzo, and he loved the Medici family, but his
sense of justice made him unable to take their part
when trouble arose between them and the Florentine
people. So when the struggle began he left Florence
and went first to Venice and then to Bologna. From
afar he heard how the weak Piero had been driven
out of the city, but more bitter still was his grief
when the news came that the solemn warning voice
of the great preacher Savonarola was silenced for

Then a great longing to see his beloved city again
filled his heart, and he returned to Florence.

Botticelli was a sad, broken-down old man now,
and Ghirlandaio was also growing old, but Florence
was still rich in great artists. Leonardo da Vinci,
Perugino, and Filippino Lippi were all there, and
men talked of the coming of an even greater genius,
the young Raphael of Urbino.

There happened just then to be at the works of the
Cathedral of St. Mary of the Flowers a huge block
of marble which no one knew how to use. Leonardo
da Vinci had been invited to carve a statue out of it,
but he had refused to try, saying he could do nothing
with it. But when the marble was offered to Michelangelo
his eye kindled and he stood for a long time
silent before the great white block. Through the
outer walls of stone he seemed to see the figure 
imprisoned in the marble, and his giant strength and
giant mind longed to go to work to set that figure

And when the last covering of marble was chipped
and cut away there stood out a magnificent figure of
the young David. Perhaps he is too strong and
powerful for our idea of the gentle shepherd-lad, but
he is a wonderful figure, and Goliath might well have
trembled to meet such a young giant.

People flocked to see the great statue, and many
were the discussions as to where it should be placed.
Artists were never tired of giving their opinion, and
even of criticising the work. `It seems to me,' said
one, `that the nose is surely much too large for the
face. Could you not alter that?'

Michelangelo said nothing, but he mounted the
scaffolding and pretended to chip away at the nose
with his chisel. Meanwhile he let drop some marble
chips and dust upon the head of the critic beneath.
Then he came down.

`Is that better?' he asked gravely.

`Admirable!' answered the artist. `You have
given it life.'

Michelangelo smiled to himself. How wise people
thought themselves when they often knew nothing
about what they were talking! But the critic was
satisfied, and did not notice the smile.

It would fill a book to tell of all the work which
Michelangelo did; but although he began so much, a
great deal of it was left unfinished. If he had lived
in quieter times, his work would have been more
complete; but one after another his patrons died, or
changed their minds, and set him to work at something
else before he had finished what he was doing.

The great tomb which Pope Julius had ordered
him to make was never finished, although Michelangelo
drew out all the designs for it, and for forty
years was constantly trying to complete it. The
Pope began to think it was an evil omen to build his
own tomb, so he made up his mind that Michelangelo
should instead set to work to fresco the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel. In vain did the great
sculptor repeat that he knew but little of the art of

`Didst thou not learn to mix colours in the studio
of Master Ghirlandaio?' said Julius. `Thou hast but
to remember the lessons he taught thee. And,
besides, I have heard of a great drawing of a battle-
scene which thou didst make for the Florentines,
and have seen many drawings of thine, one especially:
a terrible head of a furious old man, shrieking
in his rage, such as no other hand than thine could
have drawn. Is there aught that thou canst not do
if thou hast but the will?'

And the Pope was right; for as soon as
Michelangelo really made up his mind to do the work, all
difficulties seemed to vanish.

It was no easy task he had undertaken. To stand
upright and cover vast walls with painting is difficult
enough, but Michelangelo was obliged to lie
flat upon a scaffolding and paint the ceiling above
him. Even to look up at that ceiling for ten minutes
makes the head and neck ache with pain, and we
wonder how such a piece of work could ever have
been done.

No help would the master accept, and he had no
pupils. Alone he worked, and he could not bear to
have any one near him looking on. In silence and
solitude he lay there painting those marvellous
frescoes of the story of the Creation to the time of
Noah. Only Pope Julius himself dared to disturb
the master, and he alone climbed the scaffolding and
watched the work.

`When wilt thou have finished?' was his constant
cry. `I long to show thy work to the world.'

`Patience, patience,' said Michelangelo. `Nothing
is ready yet.'

`But when wilt thou make an end?' asked the
impatient old man.

`When I can,' answered the painter.

Then the Pope lost his temper, for he was not
accustomed to be answered like this.

`Dost thou want to be thrown head first from the
scaffold?' he asked angrily. `I tell thee that will
happen if the work is not finished at once.'

So, incomplete as they were, Michelangelo was
obliged to uncover the frescoes that all Rome might
see them. It was many years before the ceiling was
finished or the final fresco of the Last Judgment
painted upon the end wall.

Michelangelo lived to be a very old man, and his
life was lonely and solitary to the end. The one
woman he loved, Vittoria Colonna, had died, and
with her death all brightness for him had faded.
Although he worked so much in Rome, it was always
Florence that he loved. There it was that he began
the statues for the Chapel of the Medici, and there,
too, he helped to build the defences of San Miniato
when the Medici family made war upon the City of

So when the great man died in Rome it seemed
but fit that his body should be carried back to his
beloved Florence. There it now rests in the Church
of Santa Croce, while his giant works, his great and
terrible thoughts breathed out into marble or flashed
upon the walls of the Sistine Chapel, live on for ever,
filling the minds of men with a great awe and wonder
as they gaze upon them.


Nowhere in Florence could a more honest man or
a better worker be found than Agnolo the tailor.
True, there were once evil tales whispered about him
when he first opened his shop in the little street. It
was said that he was no Italian, but a foreigner who
had been obliged to flee from his own land because
of a quarrel he had had with one of his customers.
People shook their heads and talked mysteriously
of how the tailor's scissors had been used as a deadly
weapon in the fight. But ere long these stories died
away, and the tailor, with his wife Constanza, lived
a happy, busy life, and brought up their six children
carefully and well.

Now out of those six children five were just the
ordinary commonplace little ones such as one would
expect to meet in a tailor's household, but the sixth
was like the ugly duckling in the fairy tale--a little,
strange bird, unlike all the rest, who learned to swim
far away and soon left the old commonplace home
behind him.

The boy's name was Andrea. He was such a
quick, sharp little boy that he was sent very early
to school, and had learned to read and write before
he was seven years old. As that was considered
quite enough education, his father then took him
away from school and put him to work with a goldsmith.

It is early days to begin work at seven years old,
but Andrea thought it was quite as good as play.
He was always perfectly happy if he could have a
pencil and paper, and his drawings and designs were
really so wonderfully good that his master grew to
be quite proud of the child and showed the work to
all his customers.

Next door to the goldsmith's shop there lived an
old artist called Barile, who began to take a great
interest in little Andrea. Barile was not a great
painter, but still there was much that he could
teach the boy, and he was anxious to have him as a
pupil. So it was arranged that Andrea should enter
the studio and learn to be an artist instead of a

For three years the boy worked steadily with his
new master, but by that time Barile saw that better
teaching was needed than he could give. So after
much thought the old man went to the great Florentine
artist Piero di Cosimo, and asked him if he
would agree to receive Andrea as his pupil. `You
will find the boy no trouble,' he urged. `He has
wonderful talent, and already he has learnt to mix
his colours so marvellously that to my mind there is
no artist in Florence who knows more about colour
than little Andrea' Cosimo shook his head in
unbelief. The boy was but a child, and this praise
seemed absurd. However, the drawings were certainly
extraordinary, and he was glad to receive so
clever a pupil.

But little by little, as Cosimo watched the boy at
work, his unbelief vanished and his wonder grew,
until he was as fond and proud of his pupil as the
old master had been. `He handles his colours as if
he had had fifty years of experience,' he would say
proudly, as he showed off the boy's work to some
new patron.

And truly the knowledge of drawing and colouring
seemed to come to the boy without any effort.
Not that he was idle or trusted to chance. He was
never tired of work, and his greatest joy on holidays
was to go of and study the drawings of the great
Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Often he
would spend the whole day copying these drawings
with the greatest care, never tired of learning more
and more.

As Andrea grew older, all Florence began to take
note of the young painter--`Andrea del Sarto,' as he
was called, or `the tailor's Andrew,' for sarto is the
Italian word for tailor.

What a splendid new star this was rising in the
heaven of Art! Who could tell how bright it
would shine ere long? Perhaps the tailor's son
would yet eclipse the magic name of Raphael. His
colour was perfect, his drawing absolutely correct.
They called him in their admiration `the faultless
painter.' But had he, indeed, the artist soul? That
was the question. For, perfect as his pictures were,
they still lacked something. Perhaps time would
teach him to supply that want.

Meanwhile there was plenty of work for the young
artist, and when he set up his own studio with

another young painter, he was at once invited to
fresco the walls of the cloister of the Scalzo, or bare-
footed friars.

This was the happiest time of all Andrea's life.
The two friends worked happily together, and spent
many a merry day with their companions. Every
day Andrea learned to add more softness and delicacy
to his colouring until his pictures seemed verily
to glow with life. Every day he dreamed fresh
dreams of the fame and honour that awaited him.
And when work was over, the two young painters
would go off to meet their friends and make merry
over their supper as they told all the latest jokes
and wittiest stories, and forgot for a while the serious
art of painting pictures.

There were twelve of these young men who met
together, and each of them was bound to bring some
particular dish for the general supper. Every one
tried to think of something especially nice and
uncommon, but no one managed such surprising
delicacies as Andrea. There was one special dish
which no one ever forgot. It was in the shape of
a temple, with its pillars made of sausages. The
pavement was formed of little squares of different
coloured jelly, the tops of the pillars were cheese,
and the roof was of sugar, with a frieze of sweets
running round it. Inside the temple there was a
choir of roast birds with their mouths wide open,
and the priests were two fat pigeons. It was the
most splendid supper-dish that ever was seen.

Every one was fond of the clever young painter.
He was so kind and courteous to all, and so simple-
hearted that it was impossible for the others to feel
jealous or to grudge him the fame and praise that
was showered upon him more and more as each
fresh picture was finished.

Then just when all gave promise of sunshine and
happiness, a little cloud rose in his blue sky, which
grew and grew until it dimmed all the glory of his life.

In the Via di San Gallo, not very far from the street
where Andrea and his friend lodged, there lived a
very beautiful woman called Lucrezia. She was
not a highborn lady, only the daughter of a working
man, but she was as proud and haughty as she was
beautiful. Nought cared she for things high and
noble, she was only greedy of praise and filled with
a desire to have her own way in everything. Yet
her lovely face seemed as if it must be the mirror
of a lovely soul, and when the young painter
Andrea first saw her his heart went out towards her.
She was his long-dreamed-of ideal of beauty and
grace, the vision of loveliness which he had been
trying to grasp all his life.

`What hath bewitched thee?' asked his friend as
he watched Andrea restlessly pacing up and down
the studio, his brushes thrown aside and his work
left unfinished. `Thou hast done little work for
many weeks.'

`I cannot paint,' answered Andrea, `for I see
only one face ever before me, and it comes between
me and my work.'

`Thou art ruining all thy chances,' said the friend
sadly, `and the face thou seest is not worth the

Andrea turned on his heel with an angry look
and went out. All his friends were against him
now. No one had a good word for the beautiful
Lucrezia. But she was worth all the world to him,
and he had made up his mind to marry her.

It was winter time, and the Christmas bells had
but yesterday rung out the tidings of the Holy
Birthday when Andrea at last obtained his heart's
desire and made Lucrezia his wife. The joyful
Christmastide seemed a fit season in which to set
the seal upon his great happiness, and he thought
himself the most fortunate of men. He had asked
advice of none, and had told no one what he meant
to do, but the news of his marriage was soon noised

`Hast thou heard the news of young Andrea del
Sarto?' asked the people of Florence of one another.
`I fear he has dealt an evil blow at his own chances
of success.'

One by one his friends left him, and many of his
pupils deserted the studio. Lucrezia's sharp tongue
was unbearable, and she made mischief among them
all. Only Andrea remained blinded by her beauty,
and thought that now, with such a model always near
him, he would paint as he had never painted before.

But little did Lucrezia care to help him with his
work. His pictures meant nothing to her except
so far as they sold well and brought in money for
her to spend. Worst of all, she began to grudge
the help that he gave to his old father and mother,
who now were poor and needed his care.

And yet, although Andrea saw all this, he still 
loved his beautiful wife and cared only how he
might please her. He scarcely painted a picture
that had not her face in it, for she was his ideal
Madonna, Queen of Heaven.

But it was not so easy now to put his whole heart
and soul into his work. True, his hand drew as
correctly as ever, and his colours were even more
beautiful, but often the soul seemed lacking.

`Thou dost work but slowly,' the proud beauty
would say, tired of sitting still as his model. `Why
canst thou not paint quicker and sell at higher
prices? I have need of more gold, and the money
seems to grow scarcer week by week.'

Andrea sighed. Truly the money vanished like
magic, as Lucrezia's jewels and dresses increased.

`Dear heart, have a little patience,' he said. `I
can but do my best.'

Then, as he looked at the angry discontented face
of his wife, he laid down his brushes and went to
kneel beside her.

`Lucrezia,' he said, `there needs something
besides mere drawing and painting to make a picture.
They call me ``the faultless painter,'' and it seemed
once as if I might have reached as high or even
higher than the great Raphael. It needed but the
soul put into my work, and if thou couldst have
helped me to reach my ideal, what would I not
have shown the world!'

`I do not understand thee,' said Lucrezia
petulantly, `and this is waste of time. Haste thee and
get back to thy brushes and paints, and see that
thou drivest a better bargain with this last picture.'

No, it was no use; she could never understand!
Andrea knew that he must look for no help from
her, and that he must paint in spite of the hindrances
she placed in his way. Well, his work was still
considered most beautiful, and he must make the
best of it.

Orders for pictures came now from far and near,
and before long some of Andrea's work found its
way into France; and when King Francis saw it he
was so anxious to have the painter at his court, that
he sent a royal invitation, begging Andrea to come
at once to France and enter the king's service.

The invitation came when Andrea was feeling
hopeless and dispirited. Lucrezia gave him no
peace, the money was all spent, and he was weary
of work. The thought of starting afresh in another
country put new courage into him. He made up
his mind to go at once to the French court. He
would leave Lucrezia in some safe place and send
her all the money he could earn.

How good it was to leave all his troubles behind,
and to set off that glad May day when all the world
breathed of new life and new hope. Perhaps the
winter of his life was passed too, and only sunshine
and summer was in store.

Andrea's welcome at the French court was most
flattering. Nothing was thought too good for the
famous Florentine painter, and he was treated like
a prince. The king loaded him with gifts, and gave
him costly clothes and money for all his needs. A
portrait of the infant Dauphin was begun at once, for
which Andrea received three hundred golden pieces.

Month after month passed happily by. Andrea
painted many pictures, and each one was more
admired than the last. But his dream of happiness
did not last long. He was hard at work one day
when a letter was brought to him, sent by his wife
Lucrezia. She could not live without him, so she
wrote. He must come home at once. If he delayed
much longer he would not find her alive.

There could be, of course, but one answer to all
this. Andrea loved his wife too well to think of
refusing her request, and the days of peace and
plenty must come to an end. Even as he read her
letter he began to long to see her again, and the
thought of showing her all his gay clothes and
costly presents filled him with delight.

But the king was very loth to let the painter
go, and only at last consented when Andrea
promised most faithfully to return a few months

`I cannot spare thee for longer,' said Francis;
`but I will let thee go on condition that thou wilt
buy for me certain works of art in Italy, which I
have long coveted, and bring them back with thee.'

Then he entrusted to Andrea a large sum of
money and bade him buy the best pictures he could
find, and afterwards return without fail.

So Andrea journeyed back to Florence, and when
he was once again with his wife, his joy and delight
in her were so great that he forgot all his promises,
forgot even the king's trust, and allowed Lucrezia
to squander all the money which was to have been
spent on art treasures for King Francis.

Then returned the evil days of trouble and
quarrelling. Added to that the terrible feeling that
he had betrayed his trust and broken his word, made
Andrea more unhappy than ever. He dared not
return to France, but took up again his work in
Florence, always with the hope that he might make
enough money to repay the debt.

Years went by and dark days fell upon the City
of Flowers. She had made a great struggle for
liberty and had driven out the Medici, but they were
helped by enemies from without, and Florence was for
many months in a state of siege. There was constant
fighting going on and little time for peaceful work.

Yet through all those troubled days Andrea
worked steadily at his painting, and paid but little
heed to the fate of the city. The stir of battle did
not reach his quiet studio. There was enough strife
at home; no need to seek it outside.

It was about this time that he painted a beautiful
picture for the Company of San Jacopo, which was
used as a banner and carried in their processions.
Bad weather, wind, rain, and sunshine have spoiled
some of its beauty, but much of the loveliness still
remains. It is specially a children's picture, for
Andrea painted the great saint bending over a little
child in a white robe who kneels at his feet, while
another little figure kneels close by. The boy has
his hands folded together as if in prayer, and the
kind strong hand of the saint is placed lovingly
beneath the little chin. The other child is holding
a book, and both children press close against the
robe of the protecting saint.

But although Andrea could paint his pictures
undisturbed while war was raging around, there was
one enemy waiting to enter Florence who claimed
attention and could not be ignored. When the
triumphant troops gained an entrance by treachery,
they brought with them that deadly scourge which
was worse than any earthly enemy, the dreadful
illness called the plague.

Perhaps Andrea had suffered for want of good
food during the siege, perhaps he was overworked
and tired; but, whatever was the cause, he was one
of the first to be seized by that terrible disease.
Alone he fought the enemy, and alone he died.
Lucrezia had left him as soon as he fell ill, for she
feared the deadly plague, and Andrea gladly let her
go, for he loved her to the last with the same great
unselfish love.

So passed away the faultless painter, and his was
the last great name engraved upon that golden
record of Florentine Art which had made Florence
famous in the eyes of the world. Other artists came
after him, but Art was on the wane in the City of
Flowers, and her glory was slowly departing.

We can trace no other great name upon her pages
and so we close the book, and our eyes turn towards
the shores of the blue Adriatic, where Venice,
Queen of the Sea, was writing, year by year,
another volume filled with the names of her own
Knights of Art.


Almost all the stories of the lives of the painters
which we have been listening to, until now, have
clustered round Florence, the City of Flowers.
She was their great mother, and her sons loved her
with a deep, passionate love, thinking nothing too
fair with which to deck her beauty. Wherever
they wandered she drew them back, for their very
heartstrings were wound around her, and each and
all strove to give her of their best.

But now we come to the stories of men whose
lives gather round a different centre. Instead of
the great mother-city beside the Arno, with her
strong towers and warlike citizens, the noise of
battle ever sounding in her streets, and her flowery
fields encircling her on every side, we have now
Venice, Queen of the Sea.

No warlike tread or tramp of angry crowds
disturbs her fair streets, for here are no pavements,
only the cool green water which laps the walls of
her marble palaces, and gives back the sound of the
dipping oar and the soft echo of passing voices, as
the gondolas glide along her watery ways. Here
are no grim grey towers of defence, but fairy palaces
of white and coloured marbles, which rise from the
waters below as if they had been built by the sea
nymphs, who had fashioned them of their own sea-
shells and mother-of-pearl.

There are no flowery meadows here, but instead
the vast waters of the lagoons, which reach out until
they meet the blue arc of the sky or touch the
distant mountains which lie like a purple line upon
the horizon. Here and there tiny islands lie upon
its bosom, so faint and fairylike that they scarcely
seem like solid land, reflected as they are in the
transparent water.

But although Venice has no meadows decked
with flowers and no wealth of blossoming trees,
everywhere on every side she shines with colour,
this wonderful sea-girt city. Her white marble
palaces glow with a soft amber light, the cool green
water that reflects her beauty glitters in rings of
gold and blue, changing from colour to colour as
each ripple changes its form. At sunset, when the
sun disappears over the edge of the lagoon and
leaves behind its trail of shining clouds, she is like
a dream-city rising from a sea of molten gold--a
double city, for in the pure gold is reflected each
tower and spire, each palace and campanile, in
masses of pale yellow and quivering white light,
with here and there a burning touch of flame colour.
She seems to have no connection with the solid,
ordinary cities of the world. There she lies in all
her beauty, silent and apart, like a white sea-bird
floating upon the bosom of the ocean.

Venice had always seemed separate and distinct
from the rest of the world. Her cathedral of San
Marco was never under the rule of Rome, and her 
rulers, or doges, as they were called, governed the
city as kings, and did not trouble themselves with
the affairs of other towns. Her merchant princes
sailed to far countries and brought home precious
spoils to add to her beauty. Everything was as
rich and rare and splendid as it was possible to
make it, and she was unlike any other city on earth.

So the painters who lived and worked in this city
of the sea had their own special way of painting,
which was different to that of the Florentine school.

From their babyhood these men had looked upon
all this beauty of colour, and the love of it had
grown with their growth. The golden light on the
water, the pearly-grey and tinted marbles, the gay
sails of the galleys which swept the lagoons like
painted butterflies, the wide stretch of water ending
in the mystery of the distant skyline--it all sank into
their hearts, and it was little wonder that they
should strive to paint colour above all things, and
at last reach a perfection such as no other school of
painters has equalled.

As with the Florentine artists, so with these
Venetian painters, we must leave many names
unnoticed just now, and learn first to know those
which shine out clearest among the many bright
stars of fame.

In the beginning of the fifteenth century, four
hundred years ago, when Fra Filippo Lippi was
painting in Florence, there lived in Venice a certain
Jacopo Bellini, who was a painter, and who had
two sons called Gentile and Giovanni. The father
taught his boys with great care, and gave them the 
best training he could, for he was anxious that his
sons should become great painters. He saw that
they were both clever and quick to learn, and he
hoped great things of them.

`Never do less than your very best,' he would say,
as he taught the boys how to draw and use their
colours. `See how the Tuscan artists strive with
one another, each desiring to do most honour to
their city of Florence. So, Gentile, I would have
thee also strive to be great; and thou, Giovanni,
endeavour to be even greater than thy brother.'

But though the boys were thus taught to try and
outdo each other, still they were always the best of
friends, and there was never any unkind rivalry
between them.

Gentile, the eldest, was fond of painting story
pictures, which told the history of Venice, and
showed the magnificent doges, and nobles, and
people of the city, dressed in their rich robes. The
Venetians loved pictures which showed forth the
glory of their city, and very soon Gentile was
invited to paint the walls of the Ducal Palace with
his historical pictures.

Now Venice carried on a great trade with her
ships, which sailed to many foreign lands. These
ships, loaded with merchandise, touched at different
ports, and the merchants sold their goods or took
in exchange other things which they brought back
to Venice. It happened that one of the ships which
set sail for Turkey had on board among other things
several pictures painted by Giovanni Bellini. These
were shown to the Sultan of Turkey, who had never 
seen a picture before, and he was amazed and
delighted beyond words. His religion forbade the
making of pictures, but he paid no attention now to
that law, but sent a messenger to Venice praying
that the painter Bellini might come to him at once.

The rulers of Venice were unwilling to spare
Giovanni just then, but they allowed Gentile to go,
as his work at the Ducal Palace was finished.

So Gentile took his canvases and paints, and,
setting sail in one of the merchant ships, soon
arrived at the court of the Grand Turk.

He was received with every honour, and nothing
was thought too good for this wonderful painter,
who could make pictures which looked like living
men. The Sultan loaded him with gifts and favours,
and he lived there like a royal prince. Each picture
painted by Gentile was thought more wonderful
than the last. He painted a portrait of the Sultan,
and even one of himself, which was considered little
short of magic.

Thus a whole year passed by, and Gentile had a
most delightful time and was well contented, until one
day something happened which disturbed his peace.

He had painted a picture of the dancing daughter
of Herodias, with the head of John the Baptist in
her hand, and when it was finished he brought it
and presented it to the Sultan.

As usual, the Sultan was charmed with the new
picture; but he paused in his praises of its beauty,
and looked thoughtfully at the head of St. John, and
then frowned.

`It seems to me,' he said, `that there is something
not quite right about that head. I do not think a
head which had just been cut off would look exactly
as that does in your picture.'

Gentile answered courteously that he did not wish
to contradict his royal highness, but it seemed to
him that the head was right.

`We shall see,' said the Sultan calmly, and he
turned carelessly to a guard who stood close by and
bade him cut of the head of one of the slaves, that
Bellini might see if his picture was really correctly

This was more than Gentile could stand.

`Who knows,' he said to himself, `that the Sultan
may not wish to see next how my head would look
cut off from my body!'

So while his precious head was still safe upon his
shoulders he thought it wiser to slip quietly away and
return to Venice by the very first ship he could find.

Meanwhile Giovanni had worked steadily on, and
had far surpassed both his father and his brother.
Indeed, he had become the greatest painter in
Venice, the first of that wonderful Venetian school
which learned to paint such marvellous colour.

With all the wealth of delicate shading spread
out before his eyes, with the ever-changing wonder
of the opal-tinted sea meeting him on every side, it
was not strange that the love of colour sank into his
very heart. In his pictures we can see the golden
glow which bathes the marble palaces, the clear
green of the water, the pure blues and burning
crimsons all as transparent as crystal, not mere
paint but living colour.

Giovanni did not care to paint stories of Venice,
with great crowds of figures, as Gentile did. He
loved best the Madonna and saints, single figures
full of quiet dignity. His saints are more human
than those which Fra Angelico painted, and yet
they are not mere men and women, but something
higher and nobler. Instead of the angels swinging
their censers which the painter of San Marco so
lovingly drew, Giovanni's angels are little human
boys, with grave sweet faces; happy children with a
look of heaven in their eyes, as they play on their
little lutes and mandolines.

But besides the pictures of saints and angels,
Giovanni had a wonderful gift for painting portraits,
and most of the great people of Venice came to be
painted by him. In our own National Gallery we
have the portrait of the Doge Loredan, which is one
of those pictures which can teach you many things
when you have learned to look with seeing eyes.

So the brothers worked together, but before long
death carried off the elder, and Giovanni was left alone.

Though he was now very old, Giovanni worked
harder than ever, and his hand, instead of losing
power, seemed to grow stronger and more and more
skilful. He was ninety years old when he died, and
he worked almost up to the last.

The brothers were both buried in the church of
SS. Giovanni e Paolo, in the heart of Venice. There,
in the dim quietness of the old church, they lie at
rest together, undisturbed by the voices of the
passers-by in the square outside, or the lapping of
the water against the steps, as the tides ebb and
flow around their quiet resting-place.


Like most of the other great painters, Giovanni
Bellini had many pupils working under him--boys
who helped their master, and learned their lessons
by watching him work. Among these pupils was a
boy called Vittore Carpaccio, a sharp, clever lad,
with keen bright eyes which noticed everything.
No one else learned so quickly or copied the master's
work so faithfully, and when in time he became
himself a famous painter, his work showed to the end
traces of the master's influence.

He must have been a curious boy, this Vittore
Carpaccio, for although we know but little of his
life, his pictures tell us many a tale about him.

In the olden days, when Venice was at the height
of her glory, splendid fetes were given in the city,
and the gorgeous shows were a wonder to behold.
Early in the morning of these festa days, Carpaccio
would steal away in the dim light from the studio,
before the others were astir. Work was left behind,
for who could work indoors on days like these?
There was a holiday feeling in the very air. Songs
and laughter and the echo of merry voices were
heard on every side, and the city seemed one vast
playground, where all the grown-up children as well
as the babies were ready to spend a happy holiday.

The little side-streets of Venice, cut up by canals,
seem like a veritable maze to those who do not know
the city, but Carpaccio could quickly thread his way
from bridge to bridge, and by many a short cut
arrive at last at the great central water street of
Venice, the Grand Canal. Here it was easy to find
a corner from which he could see the gay pageant,
and enjoy as good a view as any of those great
people who would presently come out upon the
balconies of their marble palaces.

The bridge of the Rialto, which throws its white
span across the centre of the canal, was Carpaccio's
favourite perch, for from here he could see the
markets and the long row of marble palaces on
either side. From every window hung gay-coloured
tapestry, Turkey carpets, silken draperies, and
delicate-tinted stuffs covered with Eastern
embroideries. The market was crowded with a throng of
holiday-makers, a garden of bright colours and from
the balconies above richly dressed ladies looked
down, themselves a pageant of beauty, with their
wonderful golden hair and gleaming jewels, while
green and crimson parrots, fastened by golden
chains to the marble balustrades, screamed and
flapped their wings, and delighted Carpaccio's keen
eyes with their vivid beauty.

Then the procession of boats swept up the great
waterway, and the blaze of colour made the boy
hold his breath in sheer delight. The painted
galleys, the rowers in their quaint dresses-half one
colour and half another--with jaunty feathered caps
upon their floating curls, the nobles and rulers in 
their crimson robes, the silken curtains of every hue
trailing their golden fringes in the cool green water,
as the boats glided past, all made up a picture which
the boy never forgot.

Then when it was all over, Carpaccio would climb
down and make his way back to the master's studio,
and with the gay scene ever before his eyes would
try, day after day, to paint every detail just as he
had seen it.

There is another thing which we learn about
Carpaccio from his pictures, and that is, that he
must have loved to listen to old legends and stories
of the saints, and that he stored them up in his
mind, just as he treasured the remembrance of the
gay processions and the flapping wings of those
crimson and green parrots.

So, when he grew to be a man, and his fame
began to spread, the first great pictures he painted
were of the story of St. Ursula, told in loving detail,
as only one who loved the story could do it.

But though Carpaccio might paint pictures of
these old stories, it was always through the golden
haze of Venice that he saw them. His St. Ursula is
a dainty Venetian lady, and the bedroom in which
she dreams her wonderful dream is just a room in
one of the old marble palaces, with a pot of pinks
upon the window-sill, and her little high-heeled
Venetian shoes by the bedside. Whenever it was
possible, Carpaccio would paint in those scenes on
which his eyes had rested since his childhood--the
painted galleys with their sails reflected in the clear
water, the dainty dresses of the Venetian ladies,
their gay-coloured parrots, pet dogs, and grinning

In an old church of Venice there are some
pictures said to have been painted by Carpaccio when
he was a little boy only eight years old. They are
scenes taken from the Bible stories, and very funny
scenes they are too. But they show already what
clever little hands and what a thinking head the boy
had, and how Venice was the background in his
mind for every story. For here is the meeting of
the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, and instead
of Jerusalem with all its glory, we see a little
wooden bridge, with King Solomon on one side and
the Queen of Sheba on the other, walking towards
each other, as if they were both in Venice crossing
one of the little canals.

There were many foreign sailors in Venice in
those old days, who came in the trading-ships from
distant lands. Many of them were poor and unable
to earn money to buy food, and when they were ill
there was no one to look after them or help them.
So some of the richer foreigners founded a Brotherhood,
where the poor sailors might be helped in time
of need. This Brotherhood chose St. George as
their patron saint, and when they had built a little
chapel they invited Carpaccio to come and paint the
walls with pictures from the life of St. George and
other saints.

Nothing could have suited Carpaccio better, and
he began his work with great delight, for he had
still his child's love of stories, and he would make
them as gay and wonderful as possible. There we
see St. George thundering along on his war-horse,
with flying hair, clad in beautiful armour, the most
perfect picture of a chivalrous knight. Then comes
the dragon breathing out flames and smoke, the
most awesome dragon that ever was seen; and there
too is the picture of St. Tryphonius taming the
terrible basilisk. The little boy-saint has folded
his hands together, and looks upward in prayer,
paying little heed to the evil glare of the basilisk,
who prances at his feet. A crowd of gaily dressed
courtiers stand whispering and watching behind the
marble steps, and here again in the background we
have the canals and bridges of Venice, the marble
palaces and gay carpets hung from out the windows.
Everything is of the very best of its kind, and
painted with the greatest care, even to the design
of the inlaid work on the marble steps.

As we pass from picture to picture, we wish we
had known this Carpaccio, for he must have been a
splendid teller of stories; and how he would have
made us shiver with his dragons and his basilisks,
and laugh over the antics of his little boys and girls,
his scarlet parrots and green lizards.

But although we cannot hear him tell his stories,
he still speaks through those wonderful old pictures
which you will some day see when you visit the
fairyland of Italy, and pay your court to Venice,
Queen of the Sea


As we look back upon the lives of the great painters
we can see how each one added some new knowledge
to the history of Art, and unfolded fresh beauties to
the eyes of the world. Very gradually all this was
done, as a bud slowly unfolds its petals until the full-
blown flower shows forth its perfect beauty. But here
and there among the painters we find a man who
stands apart from the rest, one who takes a new and
almost startling way of his own. He does not
gradually add new truths to the old ones, but makes
an entirely new scheme of his own. Such a man
was Giorgione, whose story we tell to-day.

It was at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci
was the talk of the Florentine world, that another
great genius was at work in Venice, setting his
mark high above all who had gone before. Giorgio
Barbarelli was born at Castel Franco, a small town
not far from Venice, and it was to the great city of the
sea that he was sent as soon as he was old enough,
there to be trained under the famous Bellini. He
was a handsome boy, tall and well-built, and with
such a royal bearing that his companions at once
gave him the name of Giorgione, or George the Great.
And, as so often happened in those days, the nick-
name clung to him, so that while his family name
is almost forgotten he is still known as Giorgione.

There was much of the poet nature about
Giorgione, and his love of music was intense. He
composed his own songs and sang them to his own
music upon the lute, and indeed it seemed as if
there were few things which this Great George
could not do. But it was his painting that was
most wonderful, for his painted men and women
seemed alive and real, and he caught the very spirit
of music in his pictures and there held it fast.

Giorgione early became known as a great artist,
and when he was quite a young man he was
employed by the city of Venice to fresco the outside
walls of the new German Exchange. Wind and
rain and the salt sea air have entirely ruined these
frescoes now, and there are but few of Giorgione's
pictures left to us, but that perhaps makes them all
the more precious in our eyes.

Even his drawings are rare, and the one you see
here is taken from a bigger sketch in the Uffizi
Gallery of Florence. It shows a man in Venetian
dress helping two women to mount one of the
niches of a marble palace in order to see some
passing show, and to be out of the way of the crowd.

There is a picture now in the Venice Academy
said to have been painted by Giorgione, which would
interest every boy and girl who loves old stories.
It tells the tale of an old Venetian legend, almost
forgotten now, but which used to be told with bated
breath, and was believed to be a matter of history.
The story is this:

On the 25th of February 1340 a terrible storm
began to rage around Venice, more terrible than 
any that had ever been felt before. For three days
the wild winds swept her waters and shrieked around
her palaces, churning up the sea into great waves
and shaking the city to her very foundations.
Lightning and thunder never ceased, and the rain
poured down in a great sheet of grey water, until it
seemed as if a second flood had come to visit the
world. Slowly but surely the waters rose higher
and higher, and Venice sunk lower and lower, and
men said that unless the storm soon ceased the
city would be overwhelmed. No one ventured
out on the canals, and only an old fisherman who
happened to be in his boat was swept along by the
canal of San Marco, and managed with great difficulty
to reach the steps. Very thankful to be safe
on land he tied his boat securely, and sat down to
wait until the storm should cease. As he sat there
watching the lightning and hearing nothing but
the shriek of the tempest, some one touched his
shoulder and a stranger's voice sounded in his ear.

`Good fisherman,' it said, `wilt thou row me over
to San Giorgio Maggiore? I will pay thee well if
thou wilt go.'

The fisherman looked across the swirling waters
to where the tall bell-tower upon the distant island
could just be seen through the driving mist and rain.

`How is it possible to row across to San Giorgio?'
he asked. `My little boat could not live for five
minutes in those raging waters.'

But the stranger only insisted the more, and
besought him to do his best.

So, as the fisherman was a hardy old man and had
a bold, brave soul, he loosed the boat and set off in
all the storm. But, strangely enough, it was not half
so bad as he had feared, and before long the little
boat was moored safely by the steps of San Giorgio

Here the stranger left the boat, but bade the
fisherman wait his return.

Presently he came back, and with him came a
young man, tall and strong, bearing himself with a
knightly grace.

`Row now to San Niccolo da Lido,' commanded
the stranger.

`How can I do that?' asked the fisherman in
great fear. For San Niccolo was far distant, and he
was rowing with but one oar, which is the custom
in Venice.

`Row boldly, for it shall be possible for thee, and
thou shalt be well paid,' replied the stranger calmly.

So, seeing it was the will of God, the fisherman
set out once more, and, as they went, the waters
spread themselves out smoothly before them, until
they reached the distant San Niccolo da Lido.

Here an old man with a white beard was awaiting
them, and when he too had entered the boat, the
fisherman was commanded to row out towards the
open sea.

Now the tempest was raging more fiercely than
ever, and lo! across the wild waste of foaming
waters an enormous black galley came bearing down
upon them. So fast did it approach that it seemed
almost to fly upon the wings of the wind, and as it
came near the fisherman saw that it was manned by 
fearful-looking black demons, and knew that they
were on their way to overwhelm the fair city of

But as the galley came near the little boat, the
three men stood upright, and with outstretched
arms made high above them the sign of the cross,
and commanded the demons to depart to the place
from whence they had come.

In an instant the sea became calm, and with a
horrible shriek the demons in their black galley
disappeared from view.

Then the three men ordered the fisherman to
return as he had come. So the old man was landed
at San Niccolo da Lido, the young knight at San
Giorgio Maggiore, and, last of all, the stranger
landed at San Marco.

Now when the fisherman found that his work was
done, he thought it was time that he should receive
his payment. For, although he had seen the great
miracle, he had no mind to forgo his proper fare.

`Thou art right,' said the stranger, when the
fisherman made his demand, `and thou shalt indeed
be well paid. Go now to the Doge and tell him all
thou hast seen; how Venice would have been
destroyed by the demons of the tempest, had it not
been for me and my two companions. I am St.
Mark, the protector of your city; the brave young
knight is St. George, and the old man whom we
took in last is St. Nicholas. Tell the Doge that I
bade him pay thee well for thy brave service.'

`But, and if I tell them this story, how will they
believe that I speak the truth?' asked the fisherman.

Then St. Mark took a ring off his finger, and
placed it in the fisherman's rough palm. `Thou
shalt show them this ring as a proof,' he said; `and
when they look in the treasury of San Marco, they
will find that it is missing from there.'

And when he had finished saying this, St. Mark

Then the next day, as early as possible, the fisherman
went to the Doge and told his marvellous tale
and showed the saint's ring. At first no one could
believe the wild story, but when they sent and
searched in St. Mark's treasury, lo! the ring was
missing. Then they knew that it must indeed have
been St. Mark who had appeared to the old fisherman,
and had saved their beloved city from destruction.

So a solemn thanksgiving service was sung in the
great church of San Marco, and the fisherman
received his due reward.

He was no longer obliged to work for his living,
but received a pension from the rulers of the city, so
that he lived in comfort all the rest of his days.

In the picture we see the great black galley
manned by the demons, sweeping down upon the
little boat, in which the three saints stand upright.
And not only are the demons on board their ship,
but some are riding on dolphins and curious-looking
fish, and the little boat is entirely surrounded by the
terrible crew.

We do not know much about Giorgione's life,
but we do know that it was a short and sad one,
clouded over at the end by bitter sorrow. He had
loved a beautiful Venetian girl, and was just about
to marry her when a friend, whom he also loved,
carried her off and left him robbed of love and
friendship. Nothing could comfort him for his loss,
the light seemed to have faded from his life, and
soon life itself began to wane. A very little while
after and he closed his eyes upon all the beauty and
promise which had once filled his world. But
though we have so few of his pictures, those few
alone are enough to show that it was more than an
idle jest which made his companions give him the
nickname of George the Great.


We have seen how most of the great painters loved
to paint into their pictures those scenes which they
had known when they were boys, and which to the
end of their lives they remembered clearly and
vividly. A Giotto never forgets the look of his sheep
on the bare hillside of Vespignano, Fra Angelico
paints his heavenly pictures with the colours of
spring flowers found on the slopes of Fiesole, Perugino
delights in the wide spaciousness of the
Umbrian plains with the winding river and solitary

So when we come to the great Venetian painter
Titian we look first with interest to see in what
manner of a country he was born, and what were
the pictures which Nature mirrored in his mind
when he was still a boy.'

At the foot of the Alps, three days' journey from
Venice, lies the little town of Cadore on the Pieve,
and here it was that Titian was born. On every side
rise great masses of rugged mountains towering up
to the sky, with jagged peaks and curious fantastic
shapes. Clouds float around their summits, and the
mist will often wrap them in gloom and give them
a strange and awesome look. At the foot of the
craggy pass the mountain-torrent of the Pieve roars
and tumbles on its way. Far-reaching forests of
trees, with weather-beaten gnarled old trunks, stand
firm against the mountain storms. Beneath their
wide-spreading boughs there is a gloom almost of
twilight, showing peeps here and there of deep
purple distances beyond.

Small wonder it was that Titian should love to
paint mountains, and that he should be the first to
paint a purely landscape picture. He lived those
strange solemn mountains and the wild country
round, the deep gloom of the woods and the purple
of the distance beyond.

The boy's father, Gregorio Vecelli, was one of the
nobles of Cadore, but the family was not rich, and
when Titian was ten years old he was sent to an
uncle in Venice to be taught some trade. He had
always been fond of painting, and it is said that
when he was a very little boy he was found trying
to paint a picture with the juices of flowers. His
uncle, seeing that the boy had some talent, placed
him in the studio of Giovanni Bellini.

But though Titian learned much from Bellini, it
was not until he first saw Giorgione's work that
he dreamed of what it was possible to do with
colour. Thenceforward he began to paint with that
marvellous richness of colouring which has made his
name famous all over the world.

At first young Titian worked with Giorgione, and
together they began to fresco the walls of the
Exchange above the Rialto bridge. But by and by
Giorgione grew jealous. Titian's work was praised
too highly; it was even thought to be the better of
the two. So they parted company, for Giorgione
would work with him no more.

Venice soon began to awake to the fact that
in Titian she had another great painter who was
likely to bring fame and honour to the fair city.
He was invited to finish the frescoes in the Grand
Council-chamber which Bellini had begun, and to
paint the portraits of the Doges, her rulers.

These portraits which Titian painted were so
much admired that all the great princes and nobles
desired to have themselves painted by the Venetian
artist. The Emperor Charles V. himself when he
stopped at Bologna sent to Venice to fetch Titian,
and so delighted was he with his work that he made
the painter a knight with a pension of two hundred

Fame and wealth awaited Titian wherever he
went, and before long he was invited to Rome that
he might paint the portrait of the Pope. There
it was that he met Michelangelo, and that great
master looked with much interest at the work of the
Venetian artist and praised it highly, for the colouring
was such as he had never seen equalled before

`It is most beautiful,' he said afterwards to a
friend; `but it is a pity that in Venice they do not
teach men how to draw as well as how to colour.
If this Titian drew as well as he painted, it would
be impossible to surpass him.'

But ordinary eyes can find little fault with
Titian's drawing, and his portraits are thought to be
the most wonderful that ever were painted. The
golden glow of Venice is cast like a magic spell 
over his pictures, and in him the great Venetian
school of colouring reaches its height.

Besides painting portraits, Titian painted many
other pictures which are among the world's masterpieces.

He must have had a special love for children,
this famous old Venetian painter. We can tell by
his pictures how well he understood them and how
he loved to paint them. He would learn much by
watching his own little daughter Lavinia as she
played about the old house in Venice. His wife
had died, and his eldest son was only a grief and
disappointment to his father, but the little daughter
was the light of his eyes.

We seem to catch a glimpse of her face in his
famous picture of the little Virgin going up the
steps to the temple. The little maid is all alone,
for she has left her companions behind, and the
crowd stands watching her from below, while the
high priest waits for her above. One hand is
stretched out, and with the other she lifts her dress
as she climbs up the marble steps. She looks a very
real child with her long plait of golden hair and
serious little face, and we cannot help thinking that
the painter's own little daughter must have been in
his mind when he painted the little Virgin.

Titian lived to be a very old man, almost a
hundred years old, and up to the last he was always
seen with the brush in his hand, painting some new
picture. So, when he passed away, he left behind
a rich store of beauty, which not only decked the
walls of his beloved Venice, but made the whole
world richer and more beautiful.


It was between four and five hundred years ago that
Venice sat most proudly on her throne as Queen of
the Sea. She had the greatest fleet in all the
Mediterranean. She bought and sold more than any other
nation. She had withstood the shock of battle and
conquered all her foes, and now she had time to deck
herself with all the beauty which art and wealth could

The merchants of Venice sailed to every port and
carried with them wonderful shiploads of goods, for
which their city was famous--silks, velvets, lace, and
rich brocades. The secret of the marvellous Tyrian
dyes had been discovered by her people, and there
were many dyers in Venice who were specially
famous for the purple dye of Tyre, which was
thought to be the most beautiful in all the world.
Then too they had learned the art of blowing glass
into fairy-like forms, as delicate and light as a bubble,
catching in it every shade of colour, and twisting it
into a hundred exquisite shapes. Truly there had
never been a richer or more beautiful city than this
Queen of the Sea.

It was just when the glory of Venice was at its
highest that Art too reached its height, and Giorgione
and Titian began to paint the walls of her palaces
and the altarpieces of her churches.

In the very centre of the city where the poorer
Venetians had their houses, there lived about this
time a man called Battista Robusti who was a dyer,
or `tintore,' as he is called in Italy. It was his little
son Jacopo who afterwards became such a famous
artist. His grand-sounding name `Tintoretto'
means nothing but `the little dyer,' and it was given
to him because of his father's trade.

Tintoretto must have been brought up in the
midst of gorgeous colours. Not only did he see the
wonderful changing tints of the outside world, but
in his father's workshop he must often have watched
the rich Venetian stuffs lifted from the dye vats,
heavy with the crimson and purple shades for which
Venice was famous. Perhaps all this glowing colour
wearied his young eyes, for when he grew to be a
man his pictures show that he loved solemn and dark
tones, though he could also paint the most brilliant
colours when he chose.

Of course, the boy Tintoretto began by painting
the walls of his father's house, as soon as he was old
enough to learn the use of dyes and paints. Even
if he had not had in him the artist soul, he could
scarcely have resisted the temptation to spread those
lovely colours on the smooth white walls. Any
child would have done the same, but Tintoretto's
mischievous fingers already showed signs of talent,
and his father, instead of scolding him for wasting
colours and spoiling the walls, encouraged him to go
on with his pictures.

As the boy grew older, his great delight was to
wander about the city and watch the men at work
building new palaces. But especially did he linger
near those walls which Titian and Giorgione were
covering with their wonderful frescoes. High on the
scaffolding he would see the painters at work, and
as he watched the boy would build castles in the air,
and dream dreams of a time when he too would be a
master-painter, and be bidden by Venice to decorate
her walls.

To Tintoretto's mind Titian was the greatest man
in all the world, and to be taught by him the greatest
honour that heart could wish. So it was perhaps the
happiest day in all his life when his father decided to
take him to Titian's studio and ask the master to
receive him as a pupil.

But the happiness lasted but a very short time.
Titian did not approve of the boy's work, and
refused to keep him in the studio; so poor, disappointed
Tintoretto went home again, and felt as if all
sunshine and hope had gone for ever from his life. It
was a bitter disappointment to his father and mother
too, for they had set their hearts on the boy becoming
an artist. But in spite of all this, Tintoretto did
not lose heart or give up his dreams. He worked
on by himself in his own way, and Titian's paintings
taught him many things even though the master
himself refused to help him. Then too he saw some
work of the great Michelangelo, and learned many
a lesson from that. Thenceforward his highest ideal
was always `the drawing of Michelangelo and the
colour of Titian.

The young artist lived in a poor, bare room, and
most of his money went in the buying of little pieces
of old sculpture or casts. He had a very curious
way of working the designs for his pictures. Instead
of drawing many sketches, he made little wax models
of figures and arranged them inside a cardboard or
wooden box in which there was a hole to admit
a lighted candle. So, besides the grouping of the
figures, he could also arrange the light and shade.

But, though he worked hard, fame was long in
coming to Tintoretto. People did not understand
his way of painting. It was not after the manner
of any of the great artists, and they were rather
afraid of his bold, furious-looking work.

Nevertheless Tintoretto worked steadily on, always
hoping, and whenever there was a chance of doing
any work, even without receiving payment for it, he
seized it eagerly.

It happened just then that the young Venetian
artists had agreed to have a show of their paintings,
and had hired a room for the exhibition in the
Merceria, the busiest part of Venice.

Tintoretto was very glad of the chance of showing
his work, so he sent in a portrait of himself and also
one of his brother. As soon as these pictures were
seen people began to take more notice of the clever
young painter, and even Titian allowed that his work
was good. His portraits were always fresh and life-
like, and he drew with a bold strong touch, as you
will see if you look at the drawing I have shown you
--the head of a Venetian boy, such as Tintoretto
met daily among the fisher-folk of Venice.

From that time Fortune began to smile on Tintoretto.
Little by little work began to come in. He
was asked to paint altarpieces for the churches, and
even at last, when his name became famous, he was
invited to work upon the walls of the Ducal Palace,
the highest honour which a Venetian painter could
hope to win.

The days of the poor, bare studio, and lonely, sad
life were ended now. Tintoretto had no longer to
struggle with poverty and neglect. His house was a
beautiful palace looking over the lagoon towards
Murano, and he had married the daughter of a
Venetian noble, and lived a happy, contented life.
Children's voices made gay music in his home, and
the pattering of little feet broke the silence of his
studio. Fame had come to him too. His work
might be strange but it was very wonderful, and
Venice was proud of her new painter. His great
stormy pictures had earned for him the name off `the
furious painter,' and the world began to acknowledge
his greatness.

But the real sunshine of his life was his little
daughter Marietta. As soon as she learned to walk
she found her way to her father's studio, and until
she was fifteen years old she was always with him
and helped him as if she had been one of his pupils.
She was dressed too as a boy, and visitors to the
studio never guessed that the clever, handsome boy
was really the painter's daughter.

There were many great schools in Venice at that
time, and there was much work to be done in decorating
their walls with paintings. A school was not really 
a place of education, but a society of people who
joined themselves together in charity to nurse the
sick, bury the dead, and release any prisoners who
had been taken captive. One of the greatest of the
schools was the `Scuola de San Rocco,' and this was
given into the hands of Tintoretto, who covered the
walls with his paintings, leaving but little room for
other artists.

But it is in the Ducal Palace that the master's
most famous work is seen. There, covering the
entire side of the great hall, hangs his `Paradiso,' the
largest oil painting in the world.

At first it seems but a gloomy picture of Paradise.
It is so vast, and such hundreds of figures are crowded
together, and the colour is dark and sombre. There
is none of that swinging of golden censers by white-
robed angels, none of the pure glad colouring of
spring flowers which makes us love the Paradise of
Fra Angelico.

But if we stand long enough before it a great
awe steals over us, and we forget to look for bright
colours and gentle angel faces, for the figures surging
upwards are very real and human, and the Paradise
into which we gaze seems to reveal to our eyes the
very place where we ourselves shall stand one day.

At the time when Tintoretto was painting his
`Paradiso,' his little daughter Marietta had grown
to be a woman, and her painting too had become
famous. She was invited to the courts of Germany
and Spain to paint the portraits of the King and
Emperor, but she refused to leave Venice and her
beloved father. Even when she married Mario,

the jeweller, she did not go far from home, and
Tintoretto grew every year fonder and prouder of
his clever and beautiful daughter. Not only could
she paint, but she played and sang most wonderfully,
and became a great favourite among the
music-loving Venetians.

But this happiness soon came to an end, for
Marietta died suddenly in the midst of her happy life.

Nothing could comfort Tintoretto for the loss of
his daughter. She was buried in the church of Santa
Maria dell' Orto, and there he ordered another place
to be prepared that he might be buried at her side.
It seemed, indeed, as if he could not live without her,
for it was not long before he passed away. The last
great stormy picture of `the furious painter' was
finished, and all Venice mourned as they laid him to
rest beside the daughter he had loved so well.


It was in the city of Verona that Paul Cagliari, the
last of the great painters of the Venetian school, was
born. The name of that old city of the Veneto
makes us think at once of moonlight nights and
fair Juliet gazing from her balcony as she bids farewell
to her dear Romeo. For it was here that the two
lovers lived their short lives which ended so sadly.

But Verona has other titles to fame besides being
the scene of Shakespeare's story, and one of her
proudest boasts is that she gave her name to the
great Venetian artist Paolo Veronese, or Paul of
Verona, as we would say in English.

There were many artists in Verona when Paolo
was a boy. His own father was a sculptor and his
uncle a famous painter, so the child was encouraged
to begin work early. As soon as he showed that
he had a talent for painting, he was sent to his
uncle's studio to be taught his first lessons in

Verona was not very far off from Venice, and
Paolo was never tired of listening to the tales told
of that beautiful Queen of the Sea. He loved to
try and picture her magnificence, her marble palaces
overlaid with gold, her richly-dressed nobles, and,
above all, the wonder of those pictures which
decked her walls. The very names of Giorgione
and Titian sounded like magic in his ears. They
seemed to open out before him a wonderful new
Paradise, where stately men and women clad in the
richest robes moved about in a world of glowing

At last the day came when he was to see the city
of his dreams, and enter into that magic world of
Art. What delight it was to study those pictures
hour by hour, and learn the secrets of the great
masters. It was the best teaching that heart could

No one in Venice took much notice of the quiet,
hard-working young painter, and he worked on
steadily by himself for some years. But at last his
chance came, and he was commissioned to paint the
ceiling of the church of St. Sebastian; and when this
was finished Venice recognised his genius, and saw
that here was another of her sons whom she must
delight to honour.

These great pictures of Veronese were just the
kind of work to charm the rich Venetians, those
merchant princes who delighted in costly magnificence.
Never before had any painter pictured such
royal scenes of grandeur. There were banqueting
halls with marble balustrades just like their own
Venetian palaces. The guests that thronged these
halls were courtly gentlemen and high-born ladies
arrayed in rich brocades and dazzling jewels. Men-
servants and maidservants, costly ornaments and
golden dishes were there, everything that heart
could desire.

True, there was not much room for religious feeling
amid all this grandeur, although the painter
would call the pictures by some Bible name and
would paint in the figure of our Lord, or the Blessed
Virgin, among the gay crowd. But no one stopped
to think about religion, and what cared they if the
guests at the `Marriage Feast of Cana' were dressed
in the rich robes of Venetian nobles, and all was as
different as possible from the simple wedding-feast
where Christ worked his first miracle.

So the fame of Paolo Veronese grew greater and
greater, and he painted more and more gorgeous
pictures. But here and there we find a simpler and
more charming piece of his work, as when he
painted the little St. John with the skin thrown
over his bare shoulder and the cross in his hand.
He is such a really childlike figure as he stands
looking upward and rests his little hand confidingly
on the worn and wounded palm of St. Francis, who
stands beside him.

Although the Venetian nobles found nothing
wanting in the splendid pictures which Veronese
painted, the Church at last began to have doubts
as to whether they were fit as religious subjects to
adorn her walls. The Holy Office considered the
question, and Veronese was ordered to appear before
the council.

Was it, indeed, fit that court jesters, little negro
boys, and even cats and pet dogs should appear in
pictures which were to decorate the walls of a
church? Veronese answered gravely that it was
the effect of the picture that mattered, and that the
details need not be thought of. So the complaint
was dismissed.

These pictures of Paolo Veronese were really
great pieces of decoration, very wonderful in their
way, but showing already that Art was sinking lower
instead of rising higher.

If the spirits of the old masters could have
returned to gaze upon this new work, what would
their feelings have been? How the simple Giotto
would have shaken his head over this wealth of
ornament which meant so little, even while he
marvelled at the clever work. How sorrowfully
would Fra Angelico have turned away from this
perfection of worldly vanity, and sighed to think
that the art of painting was no longer a golden
chain to link men's souls to Heaven. Even the
merry-hearted monk Fra Filippo Lippi would scarce
have approved of all this gorgeous company.

Art had indeed shaken off the binding rules of
old tradition, and Veronese was free to follow his
own magnificent fancy. But who can say if that
freedom was indeed a gain? And it is with a sigh that
we close the record of Italian Art and turn our eyes,
wearied with all its splendour and the glare of the
noonday sun, back to the early dawn, when the
soul of the painter looked through his pictures, and
taught us the simple lesson that work done for the
glory of God was greater than that done for the
praise of men.

End of Project Gutenberg's Etext of Knights of the Art, by Amy Steedman


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