Thoughts on Art and Autobiographical Memoirs of Giovanni Dupre Part 1/
Thoughts on Art and Autobiographical Memoirs of Giovanni Dupre Part 1
Thoughts on Art and Autobiographical Memoirs of Giovanni Dupre.
by Giovanni Dupre.
INTRODUCTION TO NEW EDITION.
This book contains the record of the life and thoughts upon Art of Giovanni Dupre, one of the most eminent sculptors of the present century in Italy. It was written by him from time to time, during the latter years of his life, in the intervals of work in his studio, and given to the public about three years before his death. Those three years, of which it contains no account, were a.s.siduously devoted to his art. Every day had its work, and it was done faithfully and joyously even to the last. "_Nulla dies sine linea._" Within these years, among other works of less importance, he successively executed a ba.s.so-relievo of the Baptism of our Lord, a portrait statue of Pius IX. for the Cathedral of Piacenza, one of Victor Emmanuel for the public square at Trapani, one of Raimondo Lullo for a chapel in the island of Majorca, and one of St Francis of a.s.sisi which now adorns the front of the Cathedral at a.s.sisi.
This was the last statue which he ever made. The model he had completed in clay and cast in plaster, and had somewhat advanced in executing it in marble, when death arrested his hand. It was finished by his daughter Amalia, who had for years been his loving and faithful pupil, and who had already won distinction for herself as a sculptor. In this his last work he found a peculiar attractiveness, and his heart and hand were earnestly given to it. "I am most happy," he says in his reply to the authorities of a.s.sisi, who gave him this order, "that the Commission has thought of me,--not so much on account of what little talent I may possess, as for the love I bear to religious art." The statue itself is very simple, and informed by a deep religious sentiment. It is clothed in the dress of the order which St Francis founded, the hands crossed over the breast, the cowl falling behind, the head bent, and the eyes cast down in an att.i.tude of submission and devotion.
The statue had not only deeply interested all his feelings and sympathies, but in its treatment and sentiment he seems to have been satisfied. A singular presentiment, however, came over him as he was showing it to a friend upon its completion. "It will be a triumph to you and a glory to a.s.sisi," said his friend. "Ah," he answered, "who knows that it may not be the last!" So indeed it proved. But a few days after this conversation he was seized by an attack of peritonitis. From this, however, he recovered, as well as from a second attack, which shortly afterwards followed. As he was recovering from this second attack he wrote to Monsignore Andrea Ulli: "The doctor has no doubt that I shall get well, and in a few days I hope he will allow me to return to my studio. But how I have suffered!--doubly suffered from having been deprived of the occupation that most delights me. This is my joy and my life. What a happy day it will be when I am permitted to put my foot again into my studio, and to resume my work and my St Francis."
His hopes, however, were fated to be disappointed. Although he sufficiently recovered to go to his studio, he was able to do but little work; and shortly afterwards--on the 1st of January--he was again prostrated by a third attack of the same disease. His death, he felt, was now certain; but he met its approach with the courage, resignation, and piety that had always characterised him, looking forward with certainty to a reunion with the dear ones who had gone before him--Luisina, his daughter, whose loss he had so bitterly felt, and his wife Marina, his steadfast help and loving companion for so many years, who had died seven years previously. One regret constantly possessed him during these last days, that he should not be able, as he had projected, to model the statue of the Madonna for the Duomo at Florence, upon which he had set his heart. One day when he gave expression to this feeling, his daughter Amalia sought to console him by saying, "But you have already made her statue, and it is so beautiful--the _addolorata_ for Santa Croce." "Ah!" he answered, "but I desired to model her as Queen of Florence." This apparently was the only desire that haunted him during his last attack. In regard to all other things he was resigned; and after lingering in almost constant pain for ten days, he expired on the 10th of January 1882, at the age of sixty-five.
The announcement of his death was received everywhere in Italy with the warmest expressions of sorrow. It was felt to be a national loss. His life had been so pure, so conscientious, and so animated by high purpose--his temper and character had been so blameless and free from envy and stain of any kind--he had been so generous and kindly in all the varied relations of life, as a son, as a husband, as a father, as a friend,--and he had so greatly distinguished himself as a sculptor, that over his grave the carping voice of criticism was hushed, and a universal voice of praise and sorrow went up everywhere. All cla.s.ses united to do him reverence, from the highest to the lowest. Funeral ceremonies were celebrated in his honour, not only in Florence, where a great procession accompanied his remains to the church where the last rites were performed, but also in Siena, his birthplace, in Fiesole, where he was buried in the family chapel, and in Antella and Agnone. The press of his native country gave expression to high eulogiums on him as an artist and as a man. Public honours were decreed to him. In front of the house where he was born in Siena, the munic.i.p.ality placed this inscription: "This humble abode, in which was born Giovanni Dupre, honour of Art and Italy, may teach the sons of the people what height can be reached by the force of genius and will." In the Parrocchial Church dell'Onda (in Siena) was placed a bust of the artist executed by his daughter Amalia; and in Florence, over the house where he had pa.s.sed a large portion of his life, a tablet is inserted, on which is inscribed these words: "The Munic.i.p.ality of Florence, in whose council sat Giovanni Dupre, has placed this memorial on the house where for twenty years lived the great sculptor, glory of Italy and of Art, and in which he died on the 10th day of 1882."
During his life, honours had been showered upon him at home and abroad--honours well deserved and meekly borne, without vanity or pretension. He had been made a knight and counsellor of the Civil Order of Savoy, a member of the Inst.i.tute of France, a knight of the Tuscan Order of Merit and of the Legion of Honour in France, an officer of the Brazilian Order of the Rose, a commander of the Order of the Corona d'Italia, Mexico and Guadaloupe, an a.s.sociate of the Academy of St Luke, and of various other academies in Italy and elsewhere. The Munic.i.p.al Council of Siena also commissioned his friend and pupil, t.i.to Sarrocchi, to execute for it a bust of his master in marble during his lifetime, on which was this inscription: "To Giovanni Dupre of Siena, who to the glories of Italian Art has added, by the wonders of his chisel, new and immortal glories. The city of Siena--xii. July 1867."
His life was a busy and an earnest one. During his forty years of patient labour he executed about a hundred works in the round and in relief, including a considerable number of busts and statuettes. Of these, perhaps the most important are: The statues of Cain and Abel, the original bronzes of which are in the Pitti Palace in Florence, and by which he leaped at once to fame as a sculptor; the group of the Pieta in the cemetery of Siena; the large bas-relief of the Triumph of the Cross on the facade of the Church of Santa Croce in Florence; the monument to Cavour at Milan; the Ferrari monument in San Lorenzo, with the angel of the resurrection; the Sappho; the pedestal for the colossal Egyptian Tazza, with its alto-reliefs, representing Thebes, Imperial Rome, Papal Rome, and Tuscany, each with its accompanying genius; the portrait statue of Giotto; the ideal statue of St Francis; and the Risen Christ.
The Tazza, the Pieta, the Triumph of the Cross, and the Risen Christ, were selected by him out of all his works to send to the French Exposition of 1867, and it may therefore be supposed that he considered them as the best representatives of his genius and power. Indeed, in a letter to Professor Pietro Dotto (1866) he mentions particularly these last three as the statues which in conception he considers to be the most worthy of praise of all his works. This selection also indicates the religious character of his mind and his works. At this Exposition he was one of the jury on Sculpture, and though he gave his own vote in favour of the eminent sculptor Signor Vela of Milan, who exhibited on that occasion his celebrated statue of the Last Hours of Napoleon I., to his surprise the grand medal of honour was awarded to himself. He had scarcely dared to hope for this; and in his letters to his family he wrote that he considered it certain that the distinction would be conferred upon Signor Vela. When the award was made to him, he wrote a most characteristic letter to his daughter, announcing the result. "Mia cara Beppina," he says, "I have just returned from the sitting of the jury, and hasten at once to answer your dear letter. It is true that the Napoleon I. of Vela is a beautiful statue. There is always a crowd about it, and consequently every one thought it would receive the first prize.
I have given him my vote; but the public and I and you, Beppina, were wrong. The first prize has come to me, your father! Vela received two votes with mine. You see, my dear, how the Holy Virgin has answered your and our prayer. Let us seek to render ourselves worthy of her powerful protection."
It was toward the close of his life, as has already been said, that he wrote his 'Biographical Reminiscences and Thoughts upon Art,' of which the present book is a translation. It was at once received by the Italian public with great favour, and is by no means the least remarkable of his works. It would be difficult for any autobiography to be more simple, honest, frank, and fearless. The whole character of the man is in it. It is an unaffected and unpretending record of his life and thoughts. He has no concealment to make, no glosses to put upon the real facts. He speaks to the public as if he were talking to a friend, never posing for effect, never boasting of his successes, never exaggerating his powers, never a.s.sailing his enemies and detractors, never depreciating his fellow-artists, but ever striving to be generous and just to all. There is no bitterness, no envy, no arrogance to deform a single page; but, on the contrary, a simplicity, a _navete_, a sincerity of utterance, which are remarkable. The history of his early struggles and poverty, the pictures of his childhood and youth, are eminently interesting; and the story of his love, courtship, and early married life is a pure Italian idyl of the middle cla.s.s of society in Florence, which could scarcely be surpa.s.sed for its truth to nature and its rare delicacy and gentleness of feeling. If the 'Thoughts upon Art'
do not exhibit any great profundity of thinking, they are earnest, instructive, and characteristic. His descriptions of his travels in France and England; his criticisms and anecdotes of artists and persons in Florence; his account of his daily life in his studio and at his home,--are lively and amusing. Altogether, the book has a special charm which it is not easy to define. In reading it, we feel that we are in the presence and taken into the confidence of a person of great simplicity and purity of character, of admirable instincts and perceptions, of true kindness of heart, and of a certain childlike _navete_ of feeling and expression, which is scarcely to be found out of Italy.
In respect of style, this autobiography resembles more the spoken than the written literary language of Italy. It is free, natural, unstudied, and often careless. But its very carelessness has a charm. Dupre was not a scholar nor a literary man. He was not bound by the rigid forms of what is called in Italy "_lo stile_," which but too often is the enemy of natural utterance. Undoubtedly this book needs compression; but no exactness of style and form could compensate for the absence of that unstudied natural ease and familiarity which are among its greatest charms. The writer, fortunately for the reader, is as unconscious of elaborated style as Monsieur Jourdain was that he was talking prose. The character of Dupre's writing has been admirably caught and reproduced by Madame Peruzzi, in the translation to which these few words may serve as preface.
As an artist, Dupre was not endowed with a great creative or imaginative power. His spirit never broke out of the Roman Church in which he was brought up, and all that he did and thought was coloured by its influence. The subjects which he chose in preference to all others were of a religious character, and his works are animated by a spirit of humility and devotion, rather than of power and intensity. His piety--and he was a truly pious man--narrowed the field of his imagination, and restricted the flights of his genius. "But even his failings leaned to virtue's side," and what he lacked in breadth of conception, was compensated by his deep sincerity of purpose and religious feeling. He was not a daring creator--not an originator of ideas--not a bold discoverer. He hugged the sh.o.r.e of his Church. He wanted the pa.s.sion and overplus of nature that might have borne him to new heights, and new continents of thought and feeling. His Cain, almost alone of all his works, breathes a spirit of defiance and rebellion, and breaks through the limitations of his usual conceptions. But it was not in harmony with his genius; and in natural expression it falls so far below his previous statue of Abel, that it was epigrammatically said that his Abel killed his Cain. There was undoubtedly a certain truth in this criticism, for though the Cain is vigorously conceived and admirably executed, the heart of the man was not in it, as it was in the gentle and placid figure of Abel. In mastery of modelling and truth to nature, this latter statue could scarcely be surpa.s.sed. Indeed, so remarkable was it for these qualities, that it gave rise in Florence to the scandalous calumny that it had been cast, not modelled, from nature,--a calumny which, it is scarcely necessary to add, was as false in fact as it was inconsistent with the honest and lofty spirit of Dupre; and which, though intended as a reproach, proved to be the highest testimonial to the extraordinary skill of the artist.
Within the bounded domain of thought and conception which his religious faith had set for him, he worked with great earnestness and devotion of spirit. Though he created no works which are stamped by the audacity of genius, or intensified by pa.s.sion, or characterised by bold originality and reach of power, yet the work he did do is eminently faithful, admirably executed, and informed by knowledge as well as feeling. His artistic honesty cannot be too highly praised. He spared no pains to make his work as perfect as his powers would permit. He had an accurate eye, a remarkable talent for modelling from nature, and an indefatigable perseverance. He never lent his hand to low, paltry, and unworthy work.
Art and religion went hand in hand in all he did. He sought for the beautiful and the n.o.ble--sought it everywhere with an inquiring and susceptible spirit; despised the brutal, the low, and the trifling; never truckled to popularity, or sought for fame unworthily; and scorned to degrade his art by sensuality. As the man was, so his work was--pure, refined, faithful to nature and to his own nature. He pandered to no low pa.s.sions; he modelled no form, he drew no line, that dying he could wish to blot; and the world of Art is better that he has lived. While he bent his head to Nature, the whole stress of his life as an artist was to realise his favourite motto, "_Il vero nel bello_"--the true in the beautiful.
His last letter, written only three days before his final attack, was addressed to his friend Professor Giambattista Giuliani, and as it breathes the whole spirit of the man, it may form a fit conclusion to these few words: "My excellent friend,--We also, Amalia and I, wish you truly from our hearts, now and always, every good from our blessed G.o.d--perfect health, elevation of spirit, serene affections, peace of heart in the contemplation of the beautiful and the good, and the immortal hope of a future life, that supreme good that the modern Sadducees deny--unhappy beings!"
W. W. STORY.
"Do you know," I said to a friend six months ago, while I was looking over the rough draft of my memoirs, "that I have decided to print them?"
"You will do well," he answered; "but you must write a preface--a bit of a preface is necessary." "I do not think so," I said. "In my opinion the few words on the first page will suffice." My friend read over the first page and replied, "That's enough."
Now, however, a couple of words do not seem to me superfluous,--first, in order that I may express my surprise and pleasure that my book, written just as it came to me, has been received with so much kindness; and then to explain that this second edition has been enlarged by some additions and necessary notes. The additions do not form an appendix, but are inserted in the chapters, each in its proper place.
It did not seem advisable to me, as it did to some other persons, to enlarge this book by letters, doc.u.ments, and other writings of mine. I thought this would interfere with the simplicity and brevity of my first plan.
In re-reading this book, I admit that I have found pa.s.sages here and there which I felt tempted to correct, or rather to polish and improve in style, but I have let them go. Who knows that I should not have made them worse? It seems to me (perhaps I am wrong) not to perceive in good writers the labour, the smoothing, and the transposition of words, and so on, but a rapid and broad embodiment of the idea in the words that were born with it.
One last and most essential word I have reserved for the end as a _bonne bouche_. Some persons have excusably and pleasantly observed that to write a book about one's self while the author is living is both very difficult and rather immodest. I replied to them, both by word of mouth and through the press, that although on account of my life and works I had studied to be as temperate and unpretentious as the truth and the facts would allow, still here and there my narrative with regard to some persons might not be agreeable, and therefore after my death it might be discredited or denied. No, this must not be, I said, and say again. I am alive, and am here to correct everything at variance with the truth, and also (I wish to be just) what is wanting in chivalrousness.
MY MOTIVE FOR WRITING THESE MEMOIRS--MY FATHER'S FAMILY--REMOVAL OF THE FAMILY TO FLORENCE--MY CHILDHOOD--MY FATHER TAKES ME TO PISTOIA, BUT I RUN AWAY FROM HIS HOUSE TO RETURN TO MY MOTHER--FROM PISTOIA I GO WITH MY FATHER TO PRATO--MY FIRST STUDY IN DRAWING--STRONG IMPRESSION MADE UPON ME BY AN OLD PRINT--MY FATHER'S OPPOSITION TO MY STUDIES--MY SORROW AT BEING SO FAR FROM MY MOTHER--I RUN THE RISK OF BEING BURNT--HAVING GROWN TALL, FEARS ARE ENTERTAINED FOR MY HEALTH--I RETURN TO MY MOTHER AT FLORENCE AND WORK WITH AMMANATI--I GO TO SIENA AND STUDY ORNATE DESIGN IN THE ACADEMY--CARLO PINI GIVES ME LESSONS IN DRAWING THE HUMAN FIGURE--SIGNOR ANGELO BARBETTI'S PROPHECY--I RUN AWAY FROM SIENA, AND ON FOOT GO TO MY MOTHER AT FLORENCE--SIGNOR PAOLO SANI--DEATH OF MY SISTER CLEMENTINA--MY MOTHER'S INFIRMITY OF EYESIGHT--MY BROTHER LORENZO GOES TO THE POORHOUSE--MY AVERSION TO LEARN READING AND WRITING--MY FIRST LIBRARY, AND INEXPERIENCE OF BOOKS.
I have often thought that perhaps it would be well for me to leave some written memoirs of my life--not only for the sake of my family, but also for the young artists of the future; but I have hitherto been deterred from so doing by the fear lest I might seem to have been prompted by pride and vanity. Since, however, various notices of my life and my doings in art have been made public, it may not be either without interest, or indeed without a certain utility, if I venture now to speak at length on these subjects; for it seems to me that these memoirs may not only serve as an encouragement to timid but well-disposed youths, but may at the same time be a severe admonition to those who, presuming too much on themselves, imagine that with little study and great boldness they can wing their way up the steps of Art instead of laboriously climbing them.
[Sidenote: MY FATHER'S FAMILY.]
My father was Francesco Dupre, the youngest son of Lorenzo Dupre, who came to Siena with the princes of Lorraine. My grandfather kept a draper's shop in the Piazza del Campo, where at first, through his activity and honesty, his business so prospered that he was able to give his family a good education; and my father was just entering on the course of studies that his brothers had already finished, when my grandfather, through the ignorance and bad faith of his debtors and his own determination to be honest himself, was reduced to poverty. In consequence of this, my father was obliged to discontinue his studies, and to set to work to learn a trade, in order that he might earn his bread as soon as possible; and thinking to derive some advantage from the studies he had already made in drawing, he apprenticed himself to a wood-carver. Later he married Victoria Lombardi of Siena, and she was my mother. I was born on the 1st of March 1817, in Via San Salvadore, in the Contrada dell'Onda, and lived in Siena until I was four years old.
My family then removed to Florence, where my father went, at the request of the wood-carver, Signor Paolo Sani, to help him in the execution of some _intaglio_ decorations in the Palazzo Borghese, which the Prince was anxious to have finished within the shortest possible time. My recollections of those early days are not worth recording. I grew up from a little boy going with my father to the shop. I had a few lessons in the Catechism and in reading from a schoolmistress who lodged in our house. In the evening my _babbo_ used to read and explain some Latin book (I do not remember what it was), perhaps for the innocent satisfaction of letting us know that he had studied that language, but certainly with no profit to me, who understood nothing and was greatly bored. When, however, he gave me some of his designs of ornamentation, such as leaves, arabesques, and friezes, to copy, I was very happy. The time pa.s.sed without my knowing it; and such was my delight in this occupation, that I often put off the hour of supper or sleep and gave up any amus.e.m.e.nt for it. At home we lived very poorly. My father earned little, for his work was badly paid, and by nature he was slow. This poverty of our daily life began to disturb the relations between my father and mother. The family had increased, and besides my eldest sister Clementina, who died soon afterwards, were born Lorenzo and Maddalena. I remember the sharpness of the tones, but not the sense of the words that pa.s.sed between my parents; and the tears of my mother and sullen silence of my father frightened us little ones, and filled us with sadness.
 "Babbo" is the familiar word for father in Tuscany.
[Sidenote: FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD.]
It was impossible that such a state of things could last long, and my father decided to leave Florence and go to Pistoia, where he thought he could earn more money. I was destined to follow him, while the others remained with my mother. For more than three years I stayed with him. My life was sad for me here, as the distance from my mother made it almost unbearable; and all the more so because my father, whenever he went to Florence to see her, as he sometimes did, always left me behind him, alone, at Pistoia. Once, when I was barely seven years old, I ran away from the house, and went on foot to Florence, although I knew for a certainty that I should have to pay dearly for the kisses and caresses of my mother by a thrashing from the _babbo_. Nor was I mistaken: I got the thrashing, and was brought back.
[Sidenote: LONGING TO BE AN ARTIST.]
About this time there awoke in me a certain sentiment and longing to try to draw the human figure--leaves and _grumoli_ had begun to weary me; and this desire was developed in an odd way. There was in Pistoia, in the house of a certain gilder named Canini, a little theatre for puppets, and one of the characters, which was wanted for a certain performance, happened to be missing. Canini, who was a friend of my father, was much put out by this loss, and came to beg my father to make the head and hands for the puppet. He answered that he could not do this, as he had never attempted anything in the way of figures; and the poor gilder, who was director and proprietor of the company, was at a loss to know where to turn. I, with the utmost effrontery, then offered to make the head and hands myself; and as Canini was hopeful as well as incredulous, and my father gave a sort of half consent, I set to work, and succeeded so well that my puppet turned out to be the most beautiful "personage" of the company. The happy result encouraged me to go on, and I remade almost all the puppets. I also made some small ducks in cork, that were to appear in a pond, and were moved about here and there by silk threads. It was a pleasure to see the little creatures--they turned out so well, and had such a look of reality; and this I was enabled to give them because in the court of our house there were some ducks which I could copy from life. Ah, Nature! not only is it a great help, but it is the princ.i.p.al foundation of Art!
[Sidenote: I GO TO PRATO.]
[Sidenote: MY FIRST DRAWINGS.]
From Pistoia the _babbo_ took me to Prato, where he had been requested to go by the gilder Signor Stefano Mazzoni. There we took up our abode in a street and court called Il Giuggiolo. In the same house, and almost with us, lived a man from Lucca, who made little plaster-images, and was one of the many who go about the streets selling little coloured figures for a few sous. This connection, ridiculous as it may appear, inspired me more and more with a desire for the study of figures. It is true these figures and parrots and clowns were ugly; but, at the same time, their innocent ugliness attracted me, and filled me with a longing, not indeed to imitate them, but to do something better. In turning over my father's papers and designs, I found a quant.i.ty of prints, fashion-plates of dresses, landscapes, and animals, and particularly (I remember it so well that I could draw it now) a large print representing the building of the Temple of Jerusalem. In the distance you saw the building just begun, and rising a little above its foundations. Carts loaded with heavy materials and tall straight timber (the cedars of Lebanon) were dragged along by a great many oxen and camels, amid a vast number of people and things. On all sides were workmen of every kind, some carving the columns, some putting up a jamb and squaring it, some sawing timber, and some busied in making ditches; others were talking, or listening, or admiring: and all the scene was animated with a truly marvellous life. In the foreground you saw the majestic figure of Solomon, surrounded by his ministers and soldiers, showing his architect (with his scholars) the designs of the Temple. In fact, it was a wonderful thing to behold, and I was so enchanted that I could not sleep for thinking of it, for it seemed to me impossible that any man could imagine and execute anything so marvellous. My little head seemed on fire, it was so full of these figures. I tried at first to copy in part this print, which, above all the others, had taken my fancy; but I did not succeed, and I was so discouraged that I sat down and cried. And not for this only I cried, but also because my father looked with so unfavourable eye on these efforts of mine--they seeming to him quite unnecessary for an _intagliatore_--that, in order to go on with these studies, I was obliged to hide myself almost, and to work in spare moments. Finding this print so complicated that I could in no way copy it, I then undertook to copy the little costume-figures that I found amongst the prints. These, one by one, I drew during the evening, after my father had gone to bed and was asleep; and sometimes it happened that I fell asleep over my drawing, and on waking found myself in the dark, with the little lamp gone out. This constant exercise, to which I gave myself every day with great ardour, so trained my hand and practised my eye, that my last drawings were made with little or no erasures.
But though I derived a good deal of satisfaction from these small drawings, my heart was still oppressed at being so far from my mother. I longed to see her, and have her near me, and begged my father to take me to her, or at least to send me to her by the carrier; but wishes and prayers were useless. My father went sometimes, it is true, to see her; but although I was only seven or eight years of age, I had to remain behind at Prato to look after the house. I do not wish to blame my father, but neither then nor since have I been able to understand his notions of things; and certainly, to keep a little boy alone by himself in a house, and often for several days together, is not to be recommended. One evening I remember, when, having fallen asleep while reading at the table, with my head bent near the lamp, my little cap caught on fire, and I woke up with my hair in flames. But this adventurous life--beaten about, thwarted in all my wishes and in all my affections--formed my character. I became accustomed to suffer, to persevere, and to obey, while I always kept alive those desires and affections which my conscience a.s.sured me were good.
[Sidenote: AN ACCIDENT--DELICATE HEALTH.]
About this time, what with continuous study, hardish work in my father's shop, and the melancholy that weighed upon me because I could not see my mother, my health began to fail. Even before this, and indeed from my birth, I had always been delicate, but now I became so pale and weak that every one called me _il morticino_ (the little dead fellow). A physician who examined me about this time talked seriously to my father about me on the subject, telling him that I ought to rest longer in the mornings (my father rose very early, and I had to get up to go with him to the shop), and eat more nourishing food; and he explained what it should be. Amongst other things, I remember he ordered me to drink goat's milk, milked and drunk on the spot, as soon as I got out of bed, before leaving my room. This treatment succeeded marvellously. Every day I gained strength, colour, and flesh. The little goat that came every morning to my room to pay me a visit, and brought me her milk, sweet, warm, and light, will be always remembered by me; and I still have a feeling for the little creature, even after half a century, which I cannot well define.
[Sidenote: ACADEMY AT SIENA.]
Restored to health, I was taken to see my mother in Florence. My own great joy, as well as her caresses and pet.i.tions that I might be left with her, it is impossible to describe. She insisted that she would find me a shop where I could go and continue to learn the art of wood-carving. Thank G.o.d, this time my mother's tenderness overcame my father's tenacity (loving though it was), and I was allowed to remain with her. They both looked about to find me a shop, and I was finally placed in Borgo Sant' Jacopo, with the wood-carvers Gaetano Ammanati and Luigi Pieraccini, who worked together. They were both very able men, certainly much more so than my father, who, poor man, owing to the constant requirements of the family, had never been able to perfect himself in his art. In this shop figures were carved, so that I had before me models and teachers, as well as incitement to work. My princ.i.p.als liked me, and I them; and I should have remained with them who knows how long, had I not been carried off by another _intagliatore_. And the way in which it happened was this: Signor Paolo Sani, a carver in wood who sometimes came on business or for other reasons to Ammanati's, seeing that my work was fairly good, and that I worked with goodwill, determined, if possible, to take me away to work for him. He wrote, therefore, to my father, who had returned to Siena, asking him to remove me from Ammanati's shop, and send me to him, binding himself to pay me double the salary that I was then receiving.
As he did not wish, however, to appear to act underhandedly (though this was really the case), he persuaded my father to take me to Siena, and place me at the Academy of Fine Arts, to study drawing; and he promised, after I had pa.s.sed some months there, to take me to work in his own shop. My father accepted the offer, and I was obliged to go to Siena, where I studied in the Academy at the school of "Ornato," which was then under the direction of Professor Dei. Out of school hours my father let me work upon anything I liked--such as children's heads, angels, and even crucifixes. G.o.d knows what rubbish they were! I also took lessons, in drawing the human figure, of Signor Carlo Pini, then the _custode_ of the Academy, and afterwards one of the most distinguished annotators of Vasari, and keeper of the drawings by the old masters in the Royal Gallery of the Uffizi.