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Intarsia and Marquetry Part 2

[Illustration: Plate 22.--_Detail of Arabesques, lower seats, Certosa, Pavia._

_To face page 37._]

One of the best Sienese masters has not yet been mentioned, Antonio Barili, much of whose work has perished, like that of many other intarsiatori, an example of which the collectors for the Austrian K.K.

Museum at Vienna have picked up, however, where it may now be seen. He was born in Siena, August 12, 1453. His first work on his own account was the choir of the Chapel of S. Giovanni, in the Cathedral, Siena, of which a few poor remains have escaped the carelessness of the last century, and are in the Collegiate Church of S. Quirico in Osenna, 26 miles from Siena, on the old Roman road. The contract is dated January 16, 1483, and in it he engages to finish it in about two years. He was to be paid 50 florins of 4 lire beyond what he expended, and was to go on working at the rate of 10 florins a month. If he did not finish it in the given time he was to forfeit 100 florins, except for cause of infirmity, plague, &c. It was to be valued in the usual manner, and 100 florins was the penalty for the breaking of the contract on either side.

As a matter of fact it took him nearly 20 years to complete. On one of the panels Barili made a portrait of himself at work, the one referred to above, now in the K.K. Austrian Museum at Vienna, which shows the very simple means used by the great intarsiatori. His tools consist of a folding pocket-knife, a square-handled gouge, and a short-bladed, long-handled knife, which he holds with the left hand and presses his shoulder against, so as to use the push of the shoulder in cutting, while in the right he holds a small pencil, with which he appears to direct the knife edge. The panel upon which he is at work bears the inscription, "Hoc ego Antonius Barilis opus c[oe]lo non penicello excussi. Anno. D., 1502." He works in a window opening with panelled framing, and behind him a tree spreads across a courtyard against the sky, upon a branch of which a parrot is seated. Von Tschudi says that the panel is about 2 feet 10 inches long by 1 foot 9-1/2 inches broad, and that the woods employed are pear and walnut, oak, maple, box, mahogany, palisander, and one as hard as birch in texture. A full description of it as it originally was is appended in a note taken from Della Valle's "Lettere Senese." It was valued by Fra Giovanni of Verona at 3990 lire. While this work was in progress he made the benches and other wood-work in the Cathedral Library for Francesco Piccolomini at a cost of 2000 lire, and did other work for private persons. Another great work was the choir of the Certosa of Maggiano, which has entirely disappeared. He was not only intarsiatore, but was much employed by the commune on architectural works. In 1484 he was sent to rebuild the bridge of Buonconvento, broken by a flood of the Ombrone, and in the same year, with Francesco di Giorgio, and on equal terms with him, restored the bridge of Macereto. In 1495 he was asked to make designs and models for a bastion to be erected over against the bridge of Valiano, taken by the Florentines. Owing to a bad guard being kept this was taken, and between 1498 and 1500 Barili was sent again to rebuild it larger and stronger. Finally, in 1503, he was sent to make designs and models of the new walls for the fortifications of Talamone, an important coast town. In his intarsias he was helped by his nephew, Giovanni, whose salary, when working for Leo X. at Rome, was five ducats a month.

He died in 1516.[2]

[Illustration: Plate 23.--_Panel from S. Petronio, Bologna._]

[Illustration: Plate 24.--_Panel from S. Petronio, Bologna._

_To face page 39._]

[Illustration: _To face page 40._

Plate 25.--_Panel from S. Miniato, Florence._]

[Illustration: Plate 26.--_Panel from S. Maria Novella, Florence._

_To face page 42._]

Other names mentioned by Vasari are Baccio Albini and his pupil Girolamo della Cecca, _pipers to the signoria_, as good intarsiatori who worked also in ivory when Benedetto da Majano was yet a young man, and David of Pistoia and Geri of Arezzo, who decorated the choir and pulpit of S. Agostino in the latter town. Geri also made intarsie for S.

Michele, Arezzo. Milanesi says Girolamo della Cecca was of Volterra, and calls Baccio, di Andrea Cellini; he was in Hungary in 1480 with his brother Francesco; they were brothers of Giovanni, who was father of Benvenuto and piper also. The stalls in S. Miniato, Florence, were made in 1466 by Francesco Manciatto and Domenico da Gajuolo; but perhaps the highest point reached by Florentine intarsia is shown by the stalls of S. Maria Novella, made by Baccio d'Agnolo from Filippino Lippi's designs. There are 40 stalls and 30 different ornamental fillings; the capitals, pilasters, and frieze are inlaid, the rest carved; the execution of figures, scrolls, leaves, and ornamental forms is as near perfection as may be.

Baccio, or Bartolommeo d'Agnolo Baglioni, was born May 19, 1462. "In his youth he did very fine intarsia in the choir of S. Maria Novella, in which are a very fine S. John Baptist and S. Laurence, and also carved the ornaments in the same place and the organ case"--so says Vasari. The organ case is no longer there, having been sold in England, but the stalls still remain. After carving the surroundings of the altar at S.

S. Annunziata, which no longer exist, he went to Rome and studied architecture, of which Vasari remarks, "the science of which has not been exercised, for several years back, except by carvers and deceitful persons, who made profession of understanding perspective without knowing even the terminology and the first principles" (!) When he returned to Florence he made triumphal arches of carpentry for the entry of Leo X. But he still stuck to his shop, in which, especially in the winter, fine discourses and discussions on art matters were held, attended at different times by Raffaello, then quite young; by Andrea Sansovino, il Maiano, il Cronaca, Antonio and Giuliano San Gallo, il Granaccio, and sometimes, by chance, by Michel Agnolo, and many young men, both Florentines and strangers. He did a great deal of work for the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in conjunction with others, and the staircase of the Sala del Dugento. After this he did many architectural works, palaces and additions to churches, some of which are still existing. The design of Brunelleschi for the gallery to surround the dome of the Cathedral having been lost, Baccio was commissioned to make a fresh one, and a piece of it was put up; but when Michael Angelo came back from Rome he said it was not large enough in style for the dome; in fact, he called it a cage for grasshoppers (grilli), and made a design to replace it himself; as, however, the authorities could not make up their minds to accept it, and Baccio's work was much blamed, it went no farther, and was never finished. He died on May 6, 1543, at the age of 83, being still in full possession of his faculties, and leaving three sons, of whom the second, Giuliano, did a good deal of carving both in stone and wood, and architectural design, working in conjunction with Baccio Bandinelli, among which was the choir of the Cathedral of Florence. Another son, Domenico, showed great promise, but died young.

[Illustration: Plate 27.--_Panel from S. Maria Novella, Florence._

_To face page 44._]

The seats near the high altar at S. Maria Novella, and other things there were made between 1491 and 1496. The floor of the hall of the Great Council in the Palazzo Vecchio was begun in 1496, and with other works there went on till 1503. On October 1, 1502, he engaged to do the choir of S. Agostino Perugia from Perugino's designs at 1120 florins of 40 bolognini each, but he did not work at it much at that time, since on June 20, 1532, he made a fresh contract with the monks to continue and complete the choir of their church. Adamo Rossi gives other curious details about this work drawn from Perugian records, which are worth noting. He says that in 1501 Bacciolo d'Agnolo, not having a good design to show, agreed with the prior Federico di Giuliano in three months'

time to submit two different seats for the choir of S. Agostino, and confessed to having received 50 broad ducats of gold as part of the price of the choir and the two stalls mentioned. He also agreed to return the money if he did not undertake the choir or did not finish it according to contract. He presented them accordingly, and in 1502 the contract was signed at 30 florins for each upper seat. Rossi also says that he finds trace of another Baccio d'Agnolo in the collection of wills of Pietro Paolo di Lodovico, under date June 11, 1529, and thinks that the work was done by him. One Baccio was elected capo-maestro of the Duomo in 1507 together with Giuliano and Antonio da San Gallo and il Cronaca (Simone del Pollajuolo), and continued in that office until 1529.

Rossi also gives other interesting details about the making of various pieces of joinery in Perugia and their makers, from which I extract the following:--"In the refectory of S. Agostino two Sienese, Giovanni and Cristoforo de'Minelli, worked in 1477. The cupboards in the sacristy of S. Pietro in Casinense were made by Giusto di Francesco of Incisa and Giovanni di Filippo da Fiesole in 1472. They were bought in Florence, and are particularly fine and large in their treatment of flowers, &c.

The work was finished with the assistance of Mariotto di Mariotto of Pesaro, three workmen coming from places at considerable distances from each other, proving that they wandered about the country a good deal.

The lectern in the same church, which is well inlaid and finely carved, was made by Battista the Bolognese, Ambrose the Frenchman, and Lorenzo.

The contract was between the abbot and Fra Damiano's brother, Maestro Stefano di Antoniuolo de' Zambelli da Bergamo, and was for the whole choir at 30 scudi for each seat, wood being provided. The lectern itself cost 176 florins, and was finished in 1535. In the Sala del Cambio, besides Domenico del Tasso's seats, there is a fine door which was made by Antonio di Benciviene da Mercatello da Massa, for which he was paid 10 florins 93 soldi 6 denari. The orator's desk, the 'ringhiera,' was made by Antonio di Antonio Masi, the Fleming, though often ascribed to Mercatello. It was estimated by Eusebio del Bastone as worth 68 florins.

At Assisi the choir of the upper church, which is the most important in all Italy for the number of its stalls, the mastery of its figure intarsia, and the elegance of its form, was made by Domenico da S.

Severino, who agreed with the superiors on July 8, 1491, to make it for 770 ducats of gold. It was not finished till 1501, but no payments are noted in the archives after November 18, 1498. In the lower church two Sienese worked in 1420, and a Florentine from 1448 to 1471. The choir of the Cathedral in the same city was made by Giovanni di Piergiacomo, also of S. Severino, and there is sometimes confusion between the two artists. The price was 57 florins. On one of the backs is carved the date 1520. The most ancient piece of joinery in Perugia is that executed for the Arte della Mercanzia in the 14th century."

[Illustration: Plate 28.--_Panel in Sacristy of S. Pietro in Casinense, Perugia._

_To face page 46._]

Rossi prints a priced list of joiners' tools, dated November 8, 1496, which is interesting as showing the small amount of tools and furniture required in a joiner and intarsiatore's workshop at that period. It runs thus:--

Bernardino di Lazzaro buys from Angelo di Maestro Jacopo, called Boldrino, joiner, the underwritten tools and apparatus at the price at which they were valued by Master Giovanni da Siena and Ercolano di Gabriele of Perugia.

Florins. Soldi.

Two benches, 2 0 Four planes, 1 0 Two screw profiles, one broad and one narrow, 0 40 Two rules, 0 16 Four straight edges, one large and three small, 0 28 One outliner for tarsia, 0 8 Rods for making cornices, 0 12 A cross beam, 0 6 Two compasses, one large and one small, 0 12 Two rulers, 0 5 Four one-handed little planes, 0 16 One two-handed little plane, 0 8 Two broad planes, 0 12 Two hollow moulding planes, 0 12 Three pieces of unfinished tarsia, and one with a wire drawing iron, 1 30 Two large squares and one "grafonetto" and one little square, 0 8 Two old irons for making cornices, 0 8 Nine files, large and small, round and straight, 0 30 Fifteen "gulfie," large and small, 0 24 Three chisels, one glued and one all of iron and one "a tiro colla manacha de legusa saietta," 0 7 One small hammer, 0 16 Two arm chairs, 0 8 A big "tenevello," 0 25 A little anvil, 0 20 A pair of big pincers, 0 32 Two little axes, 0 20 A two-handed axe, 0 25 A two-handed saw with a file, 0 60 A cutting saw, 0 25 Two stools, 0 16 Nine presses (clamps), 0 60 Two cupboards, 0 90 Five pieces of panels, two on the benches and three outside, 0 20 Three pieces of tarsia frieze and two pictures with a box without a lid, 1 0 A bench to put the tarsia on, 0 40

The words untranslated are, I suppose, Perugian words. At all events, they do not appear in the large Italian dictionary edited by Tommaseo and Bellini.

This Bernardino six years earlier worked as apprentice with Maestro Mattia da Reggio, and was paid 6 florins 22 soldi for four months. His name appears in the list of masters of stone and wood.

[Illustration: Plate 29.--_Panel from door of Sala del Cambio, Perugia._

_To face page 48._]

Frederic of Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, built himself a splendid palace in that city between the years of 1468 and 1480, which cost 200,000 golden scudi. At that time a sack of corn cost rather less than five modern Italian lire in the duchy, and a hectolitre of wine only one franc sixty centimes, and one may gain some idea of the way in which princes of liberal tastes lavished their money over the production of works of art by comparing these figures. Among the decorations, which include much stone carving of the most extraordinary finish, which in the interior of the palace appears as fresh as the day it was completed, were some splendidly inlaid doors, eight or nine of which still remain.

The palace was constructed upon the foundations of an older palace of 1350, much enlarged, and here he lived magnificently, and collected that fine library which was subsequently removed to Rome, of which Vespasiano da Bisticci, the Florentine bookseller, who had a good deal to do with it, says that it was the most perfect that he knew, for in others there were either gaps or duplicates, from which defects it was free.

Castiglione's "Cortigiano," the ideal of a courtier in those days, describes the Court of Urbino as it was under Guidobaldo, his son and successor. Among the decorations of the palace which still remain is the panelling of a small studio on the _piano nobile_, close to the tiny chapel, which is entirely surrounded by intarsia of the finest description, which represents in the lower part a seat something like the misereres of choir stalls surrounding the apartment, some parts of which are raised and some lowered. In the spaces rest some portions of the duke's arms, a sword, a mace, &c., leaning in the corners, and on the lower parts of the seat are musical instruments, fruits and sweetmeats in dishes, cushions, books, &c. The upper panels show cupboards with doors partly open, showing all sorts of things within in the usual fashion, and there are four figure panels inserted at intervals containing the portrait of the duke and the Christian virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity which he strove to exemplify in his life. At one end of the room are two recesses divided by a projecting pier; in the one to the left the armour of the duke is represented as hanging piece by piece on the wall, in that on the right is shown his reading desk, made to turn on a pivot, with books upon it and around, and on the pier between, a landscape, seen through an arcade with a terrace in front, upon which are a squirrel and a basket of fruit. Close to the reading desk is a representation of an organ with a seat in front of it, upon which is a cushion covered with brocade or cut velvet, which is most realistic, and on the organ is the name Johan Castellano, which is supposed to be the name of the intarsiatore, though this name does not appear in the accounts. The custodian called him a Bergamase, I do not know on what authority. The designs of the figures are ascribed to Botticelli, and some of them look as if the ascription might possibly be correct. The only names of intarsiatori found in the ducal accounts are Beneivegni da Mercatello, who worked in the Sala del Cambio at Perugia, and no doubt had to do with the making of the doors, which resemble that work, and perhaps a Taddeo da Rovigno, the town from which the Olivetan Fra Sebastian came. Pungileone, however, found a payment of seven florins in 1473 to "Maestro Giacomo, from Florence, on account of intarsia for the audience hall." Dennistoun says that this study contained "arm-chairs encircling a table all mosaicked with tarsia, and carved by Maestro Giacomo of Florence," but it is now quite bare, though, fortunately, the tarsie are well preserved. He goes on to say that "on each compartment of the panelling was the portrait of some famous author and an appropriate distich," which leads one to suppose either that his information was inaccurate or that he was referring to the similar small study on the lower floor, in which Timoteto delle Vite did some painting.

The duke and his son Guidobaldo were both great builders, and Urbino was not the only town in which they raised palaces, though the others were not of so much importance. The names by which they were denominated show this. It is always the _corte_ at Urbino, at Pesaro it is the _palazzo_, and at Gubbio the modest _casa_. Nevertheless, at this last place the intarsias were of almost as great importance, though now the palace is ruinous and the intarsias dispersed, some of them being at South Kensington. Dennistoun quotes descriptions from Sig. Luigi Bonfatti and Mr. F. C. Brooke, which are worth reproducing, as showing the care some times expended on the decoration of quite small apartments. This study, which was commissioned by Duke Guidobaldo, is only 13 by 6-1/2 feet in plan, though it is 19 feet high. The inlaid work only went half-way up, as at Urbino, the upper part of the walls having been covered with tapestries. The tarsie showed "emblematic representations of music, literature, physical science, geography, and war; bookcases, or rather cupboards, with their contents, among which were a ship, a tambourine, military weapons, a cage with a parrot in it, and as if for the sake of variety only, a few volumes of books, over one of which, containing music, with the word 'Rosabella' inscribed on its pages, was suspended a crucifix. On the central case opposite the window, and occupying as it were the place of honour, was the garter, with its motto, 'Honi soit q.

mal i pense,' a device which was sculptured on the exterior of the stone architrave of the door of this apartment. It appeared again in tarsia in the recess of the window, where might also be seen, within circles, 'G.

Ubaldo Dx. and Fe Dux.' Amongst the devices was the crane standing on one leg, and holding, with the foot of the other, which is raised, the stone he is to drop as a signal of alarm to his companions. Among other feigned contents of a bookcase were an hour-glass, guitar, and pair of compasses; in another were seen a dagger, dried fruits in a small basket made of thin wood, and a tankard, while in a third was represented an open book surmounted with the name of Guidobaldo, who probably made the selection inscribed on the two pages of the volume, comprising verses 457-491 of the tenth aeneid." On the cornice was an inscription. It was thought to be the work of Antonio Mastei of Gubbio, a famous artist in wood, who executed the choir of S. Fortunato at Todi, and who is known to have been much in favour with Dukes Guidobaldo and Francesco Maria I., the latter of whom gave him an exemption from imposts.

In the 17th century tarsia was more used for domestic furniture than for stationary decoration. The character of the design changed in consequence, and mother-of-pearl, ivory, tortoiseshell, silver, and other materials were used. The first Tuscan, or one of the first who did so was Andrea Massari of Siena. A few works in tarsia were still executed, but none of much importance. The choir of S. Sigismondo, outside Cremona, commenced by Gabriel Capra and finished by his son Domenico in 1605, is one of the principal, and the choir of S.

Francesco, Perugia, where Fortebraccio was buried, but this latter no longer exists. Marquetry was produced in Florence, Venice, Milan, and Genoa down to a still later date, but the fashion for ivory and ebony carried all before it. The Italian work of this kind is often most beautifully engraved, but less accurate than that produced in France.

The later Italian marquetry does not lose decorative effect though the figure drawing becomes very conventional, and the curves of ornament are often cut with a mechanical sweep. A good deal of it is in only two colours, a return to the simplicity of earlier days.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] There were nineteen subjects, divided by channelled pilasters with a carved frieze, above a bench which ran round the circular wall from one doorpost to the other, the whole work crowned with a cornice also carved with foliated ornament. The first subject on the right was an open cupboard with architects' and joiners' tools. The second was the portrait described above. The third showed a cupboard half open, worked with a grille of pierced almond shapes and divided. "In the upper part is a naked boy, standing with a ball in his left hand, below is a large circle with a bridge within and without in the form of a diamond. Within the closed part of the grille one sees a ewer above and a basin below.

The fourth is a figure of S. Ansano, half-length, below whom is the head of a man who receives baptism with joined hands, and the saint with a vase in his hand pours water on his head, holding in his right hand a standard. The fifth shows a cupboard open and shelved in the middle--above is a chalice and paten, below is a salver with fruit within and falling from it. The sixth contains an organ case with a man who, with raised head, enjoys the sweetness of the sounds, on the side of the organ are the arms of the Opera and below are the arms of the rector Arringhieri. The seventh is a cupboard half open with pierced doors, in the upper half a censer, and an incense boat, with a label above with these words, 'Dirigatur Domine oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.' Below is the holy water pot with the sprinkler within, and with a pair of sacrament cruets. The eighth shows the figure of a man with a glory and a diadem on his head, with face and right arm raised to heaven, representing whom I do not understand; above him is a garden full of different flowers and trees. The ninth is a cupboard cut across and half open; in the upper part a label with these words 'Qui post me venit, ante me factus est. Cujus non sum dignus calceamente solvere;' below are different musical instruments, the words above are set to plain song. The tenth, that is the centre one, is a half-length of S. John Baptist with the cross in his left hand, and in the right a label with the words, 'Ecce Agnus Dei,' while with his finger he points to Christ in a figure which represents him. The eleventh shows another cupboard half open and shelved, above is a label on which are some lines of the hymn of S. John Baptist, with notes in plain song and with the name of the author above, which was Alessandro Agricola, and below is a flute and a violin with its bow. The twelfth is the figure of a young man with a label below which says, 'Johannis Baptistae discipulus.' This is generally thought to represent S. Andrew the apostle. The thirteenth is another open cupboard with a shelf. In the upper part is a chalice and more fruit, and in the lower a hollow dish with a foot also full of fruit. The fourteenth shows the half-length of a man who plays a lute, above him appears a garden with different trees. The fifteenth is a cupboard with open division, with a little gate and grating with almond shaped openings, above is a candlestick with a candle half burnt, and below is a box full of yellow tapers. The sixteenth represents S.

Catherine with her wheel, half-length, disputing with the tyrant, before her is an open book on which are cut these words, 'Catharina disputationis virginitatis ac martirii palmam reportat.' The seventeenth shows a cupboard divided and half closed, with a grating like the others, above is a missal laid down, with a chalice upright, and a paten on the missal, and there are also a pair of spectacles and another paten leaning against the wall, below there is a closed book which seems to be a breviary, upon which is an open book with these words, 'Ecce mitto angelum meum ante faciem tuam, qui preparabit viam tuam ante te. Vox clamantis in deserto; parate viam Domini: rectas facite semitas ejus.'

The eighteenth shows a fine gate through which one sees a garden, within which appear different trees with fruit on them, and at the bottom is a little table upon which is an inkstand with a pen and a penknife with a label which issues from the inkstand with these words, 'Alberto Aringherio operaio fabre factum.' The last panel shows an open cupboard with shelf and grating, above is a harp and below is a violin and other musical instruments. The rector Arringhieri paid 4090 scudi for the work as a matter of compromise on the valuing of Fra Giovanni da Verona. It was in so dark a place that it could not be seen except with lighted torches, and it was also damaged because it was put in a newly built place, the walls of which were not sufficiently dry to receive such delicate work." This account was written in 1786.

THE CLOISTERED INTARSIATORI AND THEIR PUPILS

The Order of the Olivetans took its rise from the piety and liberality of a Sienese noble, Bernardo Tolomei, who, with two companions, Ambrogio Piccolomini and Patricio Patrizzi, established himself as a hermit on a barren point of land at Chiusuri, some miles from Siena, in the same manner as did S. Benedict at Subiaco. This was in 1312, but the Papal charter by which the Order was founded dates from 1319. It was called "Monte Oliveto," from a vision seen by Guido Tarlati, Bishop of Arezzo, the Papal commissary, in which the Virgin ordered that the monks should have a white habit, and that the badge of the Order should be three hills surmounted by a branch of olive. It was a branch of the Benedictines, and, like them, the monks devoted their lives to useful labours. As Michele Caffi says, "The Olivetans did not strive in political or party struggles, but spent their simple lives in works of charity and industry, and showing great talent for working in wood succeeded to the heirship of the art of tarsia in coloured woods, which they got from Tuscany."

The first master of intarsia mentioned among the Olivetan monks is a certain lay brother, "laico Olivetano," who came from Tuscany in the first half of the fifteenth century, and taught the art to the monks of S. Elena, the island which lies just beyond the Public Gardens at Venice, and was so beautiful before the iron foundry was established upon it. His principal pupil was Fra Sebastiano of Rovigno, known as the "Zoppo Schiavone," the lame Slavonian, who taught Fra Giovanni da Verona and Domenico Zambello of Bergamo, Fra Damiano. Fra Giovanni, again, was master to Vincenzo dalle Vacche and Raffaello da Brescia, and perhaps to the oblate of S. Elena, Antonio Preposito, in 1493.

Fra Sebastiano da Rovigno was probably born in 1420. The register of professions and deaths at Monte Oliveto Maggiore says--"In conventu Paduae professus est sub die 15 Augusti, an 1461, fr: Sebastianus de Rovinio"; his death is shown by another extract--"Venetiis, obiit in Mon. S. Helenae, anno Domini, 1505, fr: Sebastianus de Histria, conversus" (lay brother). He was at S. Maria in Organo, in 1464-5 and 1468-9, and at S. Elena in 1479-80-81, and again from 1484 to 1494. He was also at Monte Oliveto 1466-7, 1474-5, and 1482-3, and at S. Michele in Bosco, Bologna, from 1494 till shortly before his death, in all of which places were important works in tarsia. The inscription in the corner of the sacristy at S. Elena runs thus:--"Extremus hic mortalium operum fr: Sebastianus de Ruigno Montis Oliveti, qui III. id: Sept: diem obiit, 1505." Some of his work is in the stalls and sacristy cupboards of S. Marco, signed C.S.S., or S.S.C., that is, "Converso Sebastiano Schiavone," or "Seb: Sch: converso." His pupil Fra Giovanni da Verona was one of the most celebrated of the carvers and intarsiatori, and left works in many places in Italy. He was born in Verona in 1457, and no one has been able to discover either his family name nor who his father was.

When still a boy he left his native town and went into Tuscany to Monte Oliveto di Chiusuri of Siena, the principal monastery of the Olivetan order. He may perhaps have gone with Liberale of Verona, who was of about the same age, the first time he went to Monte Oliveto, in 1467, or more probably on the second occasion, in 1474, his business being to illuminate the choir books. In the administration books of that convent it is recorded that in 1467 Liberale had as assistant a certain Bernardino, and in 1474 another whose name is not mentioned. This may have been Fra Giovanni, who might then have learnt to illuminate, which was his first profession, and in which he succeeded excellently. He resolved to "profess religion" about this time, and was received as novice in the beginning of 1475. The year of noviciate being passed he made his solemn profession on March 25, 1476, and remained for about four years more in the monastery, during which time he finished his studies and became priest. In 1480 he was sent for a short time to the monastery of S. Elena, near Venice. Here he found the lay brother Fra Sebastiano da Rovigno, whom he may perhaps have known before, since they were both at Monte Oliveto in 1475. At all events he spoke to him about learning his art, and finding him willing to teach him, "set about it with so much diligence and assiduity that he was soon able to give him valuable assistance." The work was on the cupboards of the sacristy and on the backs of the choir stalls, which were 34 in number. On these the principal cities of the world, as they then were, were drawn in perspective "with great beauty and cleverness." About 1485 he went to an abbey of Olivetan monks at Villanova, a small village in lower Lombardy, where he illuminated 20 choral books with heads of saints and prophets, with very beautiful borders of flowers, fruits, and animals. These were sold by an ignorant and greedy priest for 17 zecchins, and only a few of the miniatures have been recovered, which are now kept in the sacristy. Of them, Vincenzo Sabbia, the Olivetan abbot, who was "confratello di religione" and nearly contemporary, says, when describing the abbey and its treasures in 1594, that there are there "stupendous and wonderful choral books to the number of twenty, made about the year 1485, and rare and wonderful miniatures are among the letters, like lovely flowers in a delicious garden, and many most beautiful imaginings, heads of saints and of all the ancient prophets, and other wonderful things of like kind, made and illuminated by that celebrated Fra Giovanni da Verona, around the text."

[Illustration: Plate 30.--_Panel from lower row of Stalls, S. Maria in Organo, Verona._

_To face page 59._]

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