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evening, year after year, did not note | patriotism gaining, as it were, in intensity those lights and shades and atmospheric when circumscribed in the extent of its changes, and lay up in his still soul a object — the monks of San Marco must hundred variations of sweet colour, soft have felt a glow of generous pride in glooms, and heavenly shadows, then it is their growing gallery of unique and origihard to think where he got his lore, and /nal pictures. The artist himself, howharder still that Heaven should be so ever, worked with a simple unity of moprodigal of a training which was not puttive, little known either in that or any to use. Heaven is still prodigal, and na- other age. He painted his pictures as he ture tints her pallet with as many hues / said his prayers, out of pure devotion. as ever ; but there is no Angelical paint So far as we are informed, Fra Giovanni, er at the windows of San Dominico to of the order of Preachers, was no preachtake advantage of them now.
er by word or doctrine. He had another The Florence to which these monks way of edifying the holy and convincing were so eager to return, and where event the sinner. He could not argue or exually they came, carrying their treasures hort, but he could set before them the in procession, making the narrow hill- sweetest heaven that ever appeared to side ways resound with psalms, and wind-/ poetic vision, the tenderest friendly aning in long trains of black and white gels, the gentlest and loveliest of virgin through the streets of their regained mothers. Neither profit nor glory came home — was at that time, amid all its to the monk in his convent. He began other tumults and agitations (and these his work on his knees, appealing to his were neither few nor light), in the full God for the inspiration that so great an possession of that art-culture which undertaking required, and carrying with lasted as long as there was genius to keep him the défauts de ses qualités, as all it up, and which has made the city now men of primitive virtue do - declined one of the treasuries of the world. The with gentle obstinacy to make any change advent of a new painter was still some- or improvement after, in the works thus thing to stir the minds of a people who conceived under the influence of Heaven. had not so many ages before called one of While he was engaged in painting a crutheir streets “ Allegri,” because of the cifix, Vasari tells us the tears would run joy and pride of the town over Cimabue's down his cheeks, in his vivid realization sad Madonna. There is little evidence, of the Divine suffering therein expressed. however, that Florence knew much of the Thus it was with the full fervour of a man monk's work, who, as yet, was chiefly who feels himself at last entered upon distinguished, it would seem, as a minia- the true mission of his life, and able, turist and painter of beautiful manu- once and for all, to preach in the most scripts. But wily Cosmo, the father of acceptable way the truth that had been his country, could have done few things dumb within him, that the Angelical more popular, and likely to enhance his painter began his work. The soft and reputation, than his liberality in thus en-heavenly inspiration in it has never been couraging and developing another genius questioned, and the mind of the lookerfor the delight and credit of the city. All on, after these long centuries, can most before the cloister was finished, scarcely help expanding with a thrill of historians suppose, Fra Giovanni had got human sympathy to realize the profound his hands on the smooth white wall, so and tender satisfaction of that gentle delightful to a painter's imagination. We soul, thus enabled to paint his best, to do not pretend to determine the succes- preach his best, in the way God had ension of his work, and say where he be-dowed him for, with the additional happi. gan ; but it is to be supposed that the ness and favour of high heaven, that his cloister and chapter-house, as first com- lovely visions were to be the inheritance pleted, would afford him his first oppor- of his brethren and sons in the Church, tunity. No doubt there were many min- the only succession an ecclesiastic could gled motives in that noble and fine eager- hope for. ness to decorate and make beautiful their It would appear, however, that the inhomes which possessed the minds of the terior of San Marco must have been so men of that gorgeous age, whether in the soon ready for Fra Giovanni's beautifying world or the church. For the glory of hand, that he had but little time to exGod, for the glory of the convent and pend himself on the cloisters which are order, for the glory of Florence, which I now bright with the works of inferior every Florentine sought with almost more artists. It would be difficult to convey to than patriotic ardour – the passion of any one who has not stood within an Ital. ian cloister, and felt the warm brightness | vance but by the spreading of His kingof the pictured walls cheer his eyes and dom — yet, alas ! with only every indihis heart, even when the painters have vidual's narrow human notion of what not been great, or the works very re- that kingdom was, and which the way of markable — the special charm and sweet spreading it. In Florence, happily, at ness of those frescoed decorations. The that moment, the Reformed Dominicans, outer cloister of San Marco glows with in the warmth of their revival, could acpictures - not very fine, perhaps, yet cept the blazon of their Order thus set with an interest of their own. There the forth with all their hearts. They had restranger who has time, or cares to look at newed their dedication of themselves to the illustrations of a past age, may read that perpetual preaching of Christ's sacri. the story of Saint Antonino, who was fice and imitation of His self-renunciadistinguished as the good Archbishop of tion, which was the highest meaning of Florence, and canonized accordingly, to their vows ; and no doubt each obscure the great glory of his order, and honour father, each musing humble novice in his of his convent. But Antonino himself white gown felt a glow of rapt enthusi. was one of the brethren who stood by asm as he watched the new picture grow and watched and admired Fra Giovanni's into life, and found in the absorbed face work on the new walls. Was the first of of the holy founder of his Order, at once all, perhaps, that crucifix which faces the the inspiration and reflection of his own. spectator as he enters, at the end of the The other little pictures in this cloister cloister, double expression of devotion to which are pure Angelico are entirely conChrist crucified and Dominic his ser- ventual, addressed to the brethren, as vant ? It is the most important of An- was natural in this, the centre of their gelico's works in this outer inclosure. common existence. Peter Martyr, one of Our gentle painter could not paint agony their most distinguished saints, stands or the passion of suffering, which was over one doorway, finger on lip suggest. alien to his heavenly nature. The figure ing the silence that befitted a grave com. on the cross, here as elsewhere, is beau-munity devoted to the highest studies tiful in youthful resignation and patience, and reflections. Over another door are no suffering Son of God, but a celestial two Dominican brethren, receiving (it is symbol of depths into which the painter the guest-chamber of the monastery) the could not penetrate ; but the kneeling Redeemer Himself, worn with travel, figure, in the black and white robes of to their hospitable shelter. Curiously the order, which clasps the cross in a enough, the beautiful, gentle, young travrapt embrace, and raises a face of earnest eller, with bis pilgrim's hat falling from and all-absorbing worship to the Divine bis golden curls, which is the best repre. Sufferer, embodies the whole tradition of sentation our gentle Angelico could make monastic life in its best aspect. No son — always angelical, like his name - of of St. Dominic could look at that rapt the Lord of life, might almost have figure without a clearer sense of the utter served as model for that other beautiful, self-devotion required of himself as gentle, young peasant Christ, whom anDominic's follower, the annihilation of other great painter, late in this pine. every lesser motive and lesser contempla- teenth century, has given forth to us as tion than that of the great sacrifice of all he knows of the central figure of the Christianity - example and consecration world's history. Mr. Holman Hunt has of all sacrifices, which his yow bound less excuse than the mild monk whose him to follow and muse upon all his life very gospel was beauty, for so strange a through. This picture fills something of failure in conception. To some has been the same place as the blazon of a knightly given the power to make Christ, to others house over its warlike gates is meant to contadini, as the two rival sculptors said do. It is the tradition, the glory, the to each other. Angelico rarely advances meaning of the order all in one, as seen above this low ideal. His angels are by Angelico's beauty-loving eyes, as well | lovely beyond description; he underas by those stern, glowing eyes of Sa- stood the unity of a creature more ethevonarola, who was to come ; and perhaps real than flesh and blood, yet made up even in their dull, ferocious, mistaken of soft submission, obedience, devotedway by the Torquemados, who have ness – beautiful human qualities; but brought St. Dominic to evil fame. For the contact of the human with the diChrist, and Christ alone, counting no vine was beyond him – as, indeed, cost ; thinking of nothing but conquering might be said of most painters. There the world for Him; conceiving of no ad- can be little doubt that this dilficulty of representing anything that could satisfy hold their place there in compliment to the mind as God in the aspect of fullthe Medici - the monks of San Marco grown man, has helped more than any have deliberated for four centuries. thing else to give to the group of the There, no doubt, Pope Eugenius sat Mother and the Child such universal ac- with the pictured glory over him; there ceptance in the realms of art a pic-Savonarola presided over his followers, torial necessity thus lending its aid in the and encouraged himself and them with fixing of dogma, and still more in the revelations and prophecy. If we may unanimous involuntary bias given to de- venture to interpose among such historic votion. The Christ-child has proved memories a scene of loftiest fiction, more within the powers of many painters ; for, vivid than history - there the Prior of indeed, there is something of the infinite San Marco received the noble Florenin every child — unfathomable possibili-tine woman, Romola. The picture surties, the boundless charm of the unreali-vives everything - long ages of peace, ized, in which everything may be, while yet brief storms of violence in which monothing certainly is. But who has ever ments count for years; and again the painted the Christ-man ? unless we may silent ages - quiet, tranquillity, monottake the pathetic shadow of that sorrow ony, tedium. Jerome and Augustine, ful head in Leonardo's ruined Cenacolo - Francis and Dominic, with faces more the very imperfection of which helps us to real than our own, have carried on a persee a certain burdened divinity in its petual adoration ever since, and never melancholy lines — for success. Sorely drooped or failed. burdened indeed, and sad to death, is that The new dormitory, which Cosmo, the countenance, which is the only one we can father of his country, and his arc:itect, think of which bears anything of the dig. Michelozzi, built for the monks, does not nity of Godhead in the looks of man ; but it seem originally to have been of the charis very different from the beautiful, weak, acter which we usually assign to a confatigued young countryman who is so vent. It was one large room, like a ward often presented to us as the very effigy in a hospital — like the long chamber in of Him who is the King and Saviour of | Eton College - with a row of small humanity, as well as the Lamb of God. arched windows on either side, each of
Angelico never, or very rarely, got be- which apparently gave a little light and a yond this gentle ideal of suffering inno- limited span of space to the monk whose cence, enduring with unalterable patience.bed flanked the window. To decorate Perhaps in his “ Scourging" there may this large, bare room seems to have been be a gleam of higher meaning, or in that the Angelical painter's next grand piece crowned figure which crowns the humble of work. Other hands besides his were mother; but the type is always the same. engaged upon it. His brother, Fra BeIt is curious to note how this incapacity nedetto, took some of the subjects in hand works. In the great picture in the chap- - subjects, alas, passed by now by the ter-house of San Marco, which opens spectator, who takes but little interest from this cloister, and is the most import- in Benedetto's renderings. How pleasant single work in the convent, the spec- ant is the imagination thus conjured up! tator merely glances at the figure on the The bustling pleased community settling cross, which ought to be the centre of the itself in its new house, arranging its picture. It really counts for nothing in homely crucifixes, its few books, its the composition. The attendant saints tables for work, parchments and ink and are wonderfully noble, and full of varied colours for its illuminated manuscripts, expression ; but the great act which at- great branch of monkish industry ; here tracts their gaze is little more than a con- an active brother leaving a little room in ventional emblem of that event; the the beebive, going out upon the business Virgin, it is true, swoons at the foot of of the convent, aiding or watching the the cross, but the spectator sees no rea- workmen outside ; bere a homely Fra son except a historical one for her swoon, Predicatore meditating in his corner, for the cross itself is faint and secondary, with what quiet was possible, bis sermon curiously behind the level of Ambrose, for next fast or festa ; tbere, bending and Augustine, and Francis, who look up over their work with fine brush and carewith faces full of life at that mysterious ful eye, the illuminators, the writers, abstraction. Underneath that solemn elaborating their perfect manuscript ; assembly of fathers and founders — for and all the while -- tempting many a almost all are heads of orders, except the glance, many a criticism, many a whisMedical saints Cosmo and Damian, who pered communication — the picture going on, in which one special brother or other pleasure must have stolen through the must have taken a lively, jealous interest, brotherhood, what pleasant excitement, seeing it was his special corner which 'what critical discussions, fine taste, enwas being thus illustrated ! One won- lightened and superior, against simple ders if the monks were jealous on whose 'enthusiasm! It is almost impossible not bit of wall Benedetto worked instead of to fear that there must have been some Giovanni — or whether there might be a conflict of feeling between the brother party in the convent who considered who had but a saintly Annunciation, too Giovanni an over-rated brother, and be like the public and common property of lieved Benedetto to have quite as good a thąt picture called the “ Capo le Scale " right to the title of “ Angelico'? For and him who was blest with the more their own sakes let us hope it was so, striking subject of the “ Scourging," so and that good Fra Benedetto painted quaint and fine ; or him who proudly felt for his own set ; while at the same time himself the possessor of that picturesque there can be little doubt that the differ- glimpse into the invisible - the opened ence between him and his brother would gates of Limbo, with the father of manbe much less strongly marked then than kind pressing to the Saviour's feet. now. Thus all together the community Happy monks, busy and peaceable ! half carried on its existence. Perhaps a hu- of them no doubt at heart believed that morous recollection of the hum which his own beautiful page, decked by many must have reached him as he stood paint, a gorgeous king and golden saint, would ing on his little scaffolding, induced the last as long as the picture; and so they painter to plan that warning figure of the have done, as you may see in the glassmartyred Peter over the doorway below, cases in the library, where all those lovely serious, with finger on his lip; for it chorales and books of prayer are precould scarcely be in human nature that served; but not like Angelico. There is all those friars with consciences void of one glory of the sun, and another glory offence, approved of by Pope and people of the stars. - a new house built for them, warm with It does not seem to be known at what the light of princely favour; and the sun- time this large dormitory was divided, as shine shining in through all those arched we see it now, in a manner which still windows, throwing patches of brightness more closely recalls to us the boys' rooms over the new-laid tiles — and the Floren- in a good "house" in Eton, into separate tine air, gay with summer, making merry cells. No doubt it is more dignified, like ethereal wine their Tuscan souls — more conventual, more likely to bave proshould have kept silence like melancholy moted the serious quiet which ought to Trappists of a later degenerate age. To belong to monastic life ; but one cannot be a monk in those days was to be a help feeling that here and there a friendbusy, well-occupied, and useful man, in ly, simple-minded brother must have reno way shut out from nature. I should gretted the change. Each cell has its like to have stepped into that long room own little secluded window, deep in the when the bell called them all forth to wall, its own patch of sunshine, its own chapel, and noted where Angelico put picture. There is no fireplace, or other down his brush, how the scribe paused means of warming the little chamber bein the midst of a letter, and the illumi-tween its thick walls ; but no doubt then, nator in a gorgeous golden drapery, and as now, the monks had their scaldinos thie preacher with a sentence half ended full of wood embers, the poor Italian's - and nothing but the patches of sun- immemorial way of warming himself. shine, and the idle tools held possession And between the window and the wall, of the place. No thought then of thun-on the left side, is the picture - dim ders which should shake all Florence, of often but dimly seen, faded out of its prophecies and prophets ; nothing but i past glory — sometimes less like a picgentle industry, calm work that calın- ture at all than some celestial shadow on est work wiich leaves the artist so much the grey old wall, some sweet phantastime for genue musing, for growth of magoria of lovely things that have passed skill, poetic thoughtfulness. And when there, and cannot be quite effaced from the scaffolding was removed, and another the very stones that once saw them. For and another picture fully disclosed in del-my own part, I turn from all Angelico's icate sweet freshness of colour -- soft more perfect efforts, from the “ Madonna fair faces looking out of the blank wall, della Stella," glistening in gold, which is clothing them with good company, with so dear to the traveller, and all the wellsolace and protection – what a fluiter of preserved examples with their glittering backgrounds, to those heavenly shadows retirement was essential; and when that in the empty cells — scratched, defaced, long-headed and far-seeing father of his and faded as so many of them are. The country had been taken, no doubt with gentle old monk comes near to the mod- an admiring following of monks, to see ern spectator, the pilgrim who has the last new picture, as one after another crossed hills and seas to see all that is was completed, and had given his opinleft of what was done in such a broad ion and the praise which was expected of and spontaneous food of inspiration. him, no doubt both painter and prince Those saints, with their devout looks, the were glad of the quiet retirement where musing Virgin, the rapt Dominic ; those they could talk over what remained to do, sweet spectator angels, so tenderly cu- and plan perhaps a greater work here and rious, sympathetic, wistful, serviceable; there — the throned Madonna in the corthose lovely soft embodiments of woman- ridor, with again the Medician saints, ly humbleness, yet exultation, the Celes- holy physicians, Cosmo and Damian, at tial Mother bending to receive her crown. her feet — or discuss the hopeful pupils They are not pictures, but visions painted | whom Angelico was training, Benozzo on the dim conscious air not by vulgar Gozzoli, for instance, thereafter known to colour and pencil, but by prayers and fame. gentle thoughts.
All is peaceful, tranquil, softly meloThere are two other separate cells in dious in this beginning of the conventual San Marco more important than these, existence. Pope Eugenius himself came, yet closely belonging to this same early at the instance of the Pater Patriæ, to and peaceful chapter of the convent's consecrate the new-built house, and lived story. We do not speak of the line of in these very rooms, to the glory and little chambers each blazoned with a pride of the community. Thus everycopy of the crucifix below in the cloister thing set out in an ideal circle of goodwith the kneeling St. Dominic, which are ness and graciousness ; a majestic Pope, called the cells of the Giovinati or Nov- humble enough to dwell in the very cloisices, and which conclude in the sacred ter with the Dominicans, blessing their spot where Savonarola's great existence home for them ; a wise prince coming on passed. That is a totally different period frequent visits, half living among them, of the tale, requiring different treatment, with a cell called by his name where he and calling forth other emotions. We do might talk with his monkish friends; a not look that way in this preliminary great painter working lowly and busy sketch, but rather turn to the other hand among the humblest of the brethren, where Saint Antonino lived as Arch-taking no state upon him — though a bishop, and where still some relics of great painter was as a prince in art-lovhim remain, glorious vestments of clothing Florence; and when the time to give of gold beside the hair shirt, instrument San Marco the highest of honours came, of deepest mortification ; and to the lit- another brother taken from among them tle chainber which it is reported Cosmo to be Archbishop of the great city ; de Medici built for himself, and where while all the time those pictures, for he came when he wished to discourse which princes would have striven, grew in quiet with the Archbishop, whose at each monk's bedhead, bis dear espeshrewd, acute, and somewhat humour-cial property, gladdening his eyes and ous countenance looks down upon us watching over his slumbers. Was there from the wall. This chamber is adorned ever a more genial, peaceful beginning, a with one of Angelico's finest works, more prosperous, pleasant house? “ The Adoration of the Magi,” a noble The way in which Antonino came to composition, and has besides in a niche be Archbishop is very characteristic, too. a pathetic Christ painted over a little At the period of his visit, no doubt, Pope altar sunk in the deep wall. Here Cos- Eugenius learned to know Angelico, and mo came to consult with his Archbishop Ito admire the works which he must have (the best, they say, that Florence had then seen growing under the master's hand; had), and, in earlier days, to talk to his nor could he have failed to know the de: Angelical painter as the works went on, votion of which those pictures were the which Cosmo was wise to see would expressive language, the intense celesthrow some gleam of fame upon him- tial piety of the modest Frate. Accordself as well as on the convent. With all ingly, when the Pope went back to Rome the monks together in the long room he called the Angelical painter to him to where Angelico painted his frescoes it execute some work there, and with the may well be imagined that this place of 'primitive certainty of his age that excel