Page images

just so far beyond the man whose hope is bounded by his own pleasure; and yet, encompassed by that future, the day that is passes out of sight. Deeper than any need recognized by charity in general lies the need of a justice that asks, "What place, what right, have this man and this woman on the earth where we are walking side by side? How shall I help them to that place? How shall I teach them to know it when it opens before them?" When we have learned how to answer this question, there will

be fewer institutions, for no numbers will stand waiting to fill them; and there will be less need for "palaces of pleasure," for men and women will have found that the "gate beautiful " is within their own souls, and that earth and sky-nay, the universe itself-makes the palace. If this seem carping, or even a form of hopelessness or pessimism, read again and find if such words do not hold the only escape from pessimism, the only sure hope for this or any age. Helen Campbell.

SPINELLO ARETINO (1330-6-1410).


N Spinello we have at least the satisfaction of a clear artistic genealogy which goes back to Giotto. He was the pupil, properly apprenticed, of Jacopo di Casentino, who was the pupil of Taddeo Gaddi, the pupil of Giotto. Jacopo was one of the founders of the Company of Painters of Florence, a similar association to that which we have noticed1 as having at an early date been founded in Siena, and, like the Sienese, the Florentine Company was the outgrowth of the religious feeling which was characteristic of the time as well as of its art. The preamble of their constitution was the expression of the sentiment of the masses of the people of Florence as much as of the Company of Painters:

As it is our understanding that during this perilous pilgrimage on earth we should have St. Luke the Evangelist for our special advocate before God and the most blessed Virgin, and that at the same time his followers should be pure and without sin, we order that all, who subscribe themselves members of this company, be they men or women, shall confess their sins or show that they intend doing so at the first opportunity, etc.

The dates for the biography of the artists of this epoch are mainly to be found in the records of work done, in the entries of the books of convents and of communes, and in contracts preserved by chance from the ravages of war and from the consumption of parchment by the goldbeaters. Of Spinello, as of others whom I have dealt with, we know little else than what comes to us in this way; but that little shows how wide was his range of influence and his reputa

1 See article on Duccio, in THE CENTURY for December, 1888.

tion. That his early literary education was much neglected by his father we know from the scraps of Latin that he left, for they are curiously incorrect for one who must be supposed to have read the Bible continually for his subjects. His love of painting, however, led to his being put early to study under Jacopo di Casentino, and his perseverance and talent were such that, by the time he was twenty years old, according to Vasari (who had a weakness for prodigies), he had surpassed his teacher. His early productions show also the influence of Bernardo Daddi, one of the most eminent of the Giottesques, whose work is contemporary with that of Taddeo Gaddi, and who, though conventional in design and somewhat heavy in color, shows a certain sense of proportion and facility in the draping of his figures. Besides possessing these good qualities of his masters, Spinello manifested more freedom and energy in his story-telling and was perhaps the best of Giotto's followers at the end of the fourteenth century, excelling all his contemporaries in vivacity of coloring and largeness of execution. His frescos, as is frequently the case in this period, are more interesting than his easel-pictures, owing probably in part to the fact that the latter were often intrusted to his pupils, but mainly to the fact that his style was better suited to a large scale. Very few of his works are dated, and this makes their classification difficult.

It is probable that Spinello accompanied his master Jacopo to Florence about the year 1 347, and that Jacopo worked with him there in decorating the church of Santa Maria Novella with many legends of the Virgin and of St. Antonio. Very little remains of these paintings, a few figures only having been discovered under the coating of whitewash with which they were subsequently covered, and even those in very bad preservation. Vasari tells of frescos


painted in various other churches of Florence, but no trace of them remains, save in San Miniato.1

After the democratic revolution at Arezzo about 1360, Spinello was called thither by the governing body of citizens to decorate several churches. In S. Francesco he executed an Annunciation, which is considerably damaged by the damp and by retouching; and near it have recently been discovered, under the whitewash, remains of another fresco, evidently by the same hand, representing a bishop and a figure holding a young child. In the chapel of St. Michael he painted a fantastic composition of the archangel driving Lucifer from heaven. The evil spirits are in the form of hideous serpents. This fresco was afterward repeated by him in the same city for the guild of St. Angelo. On the other wall of the chapel is the vision of Pope Gregory when Michael appeared to him. In a shrine over the gate of the Misericordia is a Trinity, which Vasari praises very highly. In Spinello's own shop is a half-figure of the Virgin and a Christ crucified, with wings, as he appeared to St. Francis. In 1361 Spinello painted a panel for the Abbey of the Camaldolesi in the Casentino. The side-pieces of an altar-piece painted for the altar of Monte Oliveto Maggiore of Chiusi, illustrating the life and martyrdom of various saints, are to be found, according to Cavalcaselle, at Cologne in a private collection, bearing the names of the builder and carver of the frame 2 and the date MCCCLXXX.

In 1384, Arezzo having been sacked, Spinello took refuge in Florence, with his family, among whom was his son Parri, who painted with him. There, in the sacristy of San Miniato, Spinello painted scenes from the life of St. Benedict. They are, according to Cavalcaselle, very much in the manner of Giotto, though in attitude and expression they reveal a slight influence from the Sienese school.

Spinello's fame was now great, and he was soon after called to Pisa to fill in the empty spaces in the Campo Santo there. He set to work in 1391. In one compartment was represented the legend of St. Ephesius, who, being sent by Diocletian at the head of an army to persecute the Christians, was converted by a vision of Christ and turned his forces against the heathen of Sardinia. St. Michael gave him the banner which afterward became the standard of the Pisans. Ephesius was condemned to the stake, from which his prayers saved him. 1 The frescos from the history of St. Cecilia and St. Urban, in the sacristy of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence, which were discovered in 1858 and are attributed by Baedeker to Spinello, are now thought to be the work of his master Jacopo di Casentino, in which Spinello assisted. The same relation no doubt existed in the work which has been mentioned as

He was afterward beheaded. The three scenes underneath, representing the legend of St. Potitus, with the exception of the scene of the saint's decapitation and the removal of the coffin to Alexandria, are almost entirely defaced. The documents relating to this work are preserved in the archives of the Campo Santo, and from them we learn that, having completed the frescos in the spring of 1392, Spinello received 150 florins [about $330] for the life of St. Ephesius, and 120 for that of St. Potitus. In 1391 he had painted for the church of San Andrea in Lucca the panel of the Madonna and Saints which is now in the Academy of Florence. From Pisa, Spinello, always accompanied by his family, went back to Florence, then to Arezzo again, where Vasari makes him die of fright at a horrible dream of the Lucifer which he himself had painted. But in 1404 we find him writing to Caterino Cosimo of Siena to say that he will fulfill his promise of going there, although his countrymen are unwilling to let him leave them. In October of that year father and son arrived at Siena, where they were lodged and fed at the expense of their hosts, receiving besides 111⁄2 florins [about $25] a month, while they worked in the Duomo. This they did uninterruptedly till August 17 of the next year, save for a short visit Spinello paid to Arezzo; yet no trace of this work remains.

They returned to Florence, where at each of his visits Spinello received new commissions; and in 1407 we find him again with his son Parri in Siena, where they painted the walls of the council-room in the town hall, while Bartolomeo, a Sienese painter, decorated the ceiling. The subject chosen was the struggle between Venice and Barbarossa, and the frescos illustrate the triumphs of the Republic and of Pope Alexander III., and the humiliations and defeats of the Emperor and his son. One represents the naval battle in which Otho was taken prisoner; another, Barbarossa prostrating himself at the feet of the Pope, the latter blessing the Emperor; while the best of the whole series, which includes many scenes of the same nature, shows the Pope on horseback, his bridle held by the Doge Ziani and Barbarossa. The last we hear of Spinello in Siena is in 1408, after which time he probably returned to his birthplace, where he died in March, 1410. He was buried at Morello. He had two sons, of whom the elder, Parri, was, as we have seen, a painter. formerly in Santa Maria Novella. See Encyclopædia Britannica, article “ Spinello Aretino."-EDITOR. 2 The frames of these altar-pieces were generally complicated architectural designs comprising many separate subjects. I have mentioned heretofore a capital example in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. (See THE CENTURY for February, 1889, p. 543.)




Spinello may be counted as in one sense the most important of the Giottesques, in that he was the last great and individual painter who followed throughout the precepts and traditions of the master, and his immense fertility and readiness of invention are surpassed only by Giotto himself. The naturalistic element had not made its appearance, and the supreme creative power of Giotto descended on none of his school; but in the distinctly scholarly (i. e., school-like) manner of composition, in which much is clearly artificial and even conventional as it is scholarly, which manner is the dominant characteristic of the school of Giotto as opposed to the spontaneous and vision-like character of the compositions of the master himself, Spinello was, I conceive, the foremost of his followers. The color in the school remains always the same in system- broad surfaces were to be covered with lovely tints which should furnish relief by their variation alone, as the churches were dark and the work required the high key and the opaque surface of the fresco to be distinguishable; and the general effect was much the same as in mosaic. There can be no attempt at tone, nor at what I must be allowed to call orchestration of color, even in the simple form of harmonies which we shall find a little later in the Florentine school and of which a hint may be found in a picture by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Academy -a hint, however, so slight, and so alone, that I fear to give it too great importance. The landscape throughout is absolutely conventional and shows not even a recollection of the aspect of nature; and the drawing is, to use a familiar expression, "done out of the artist's head," as all rightly ideal work must be. The relief depends entirely on variety of color, as there is no instance, so far as I can remember, in any of

the work of the Giottesques, of one figure in a picture throwing a shadow on another, or even on the ground. Nothing is thought of but the telling of the story, and with Spinello this is always done intelligibly. Of all his works known to me, the frescos at Pisa are the most instructive and characteristic, and are, moreover, in the upper line of subjects, well preserved; and of these the piece which Mr. Cole has engraved is, on the whole, the most interesting. In the church of St. Dominic at Arezzo, which was entirely painted by Spinello, there remain only two noble figures of apostles, framed separately in painted architectural framings characteristic of the time, and a few fragments, a head here and part of a figure there; but of these, one is an angel's head so beautiful in its profile that I am half inclined to attribute it to Piero della Francesca, who painted many things at Arezzo at a later time; but I have only this beauty to justify me in this attribution, and one of Spinello's heads in the Annunziata in the same city (which I have not been able to see) is spoken of as of extreme beauty.

It is in the composition of single figuresthe casting of broad draperies where no action is involved that we see the best quality of Spinello's ability. In his groups he seems indifferent to harmony of line, as were his lesser and greater school-fellows; and the " Martyrdom of St. Ephesius," the companion of the combat from which Mr. Cole's example is taken, shows most violent defiance of the academical in its repetitions of lines. But this is better than the extreme artificiality of some of the later schools, for it is the result of one of the most precious qualities in art-naïveté — and it is more or less characteristic of all archaic art. Art for art's sake was an object of study that had not yet dawned on the Italian schools.

W. J. Stillman.


HE block fresco in

I have chosen the thickest portion

Tampok represents a portion of anften the right where the action is most lively and when of the fights

as one enters, and measures about ten feet high by twenty feet long, and is known as the "Battle of St. Ephesius against the Pagans of Sardinia." The lines that I have put on three sides of the block define the extent of the fresco in those directions, so that the continuation is in the direction of the side left without

appear fighting on the side of the Christians. The coloring of the whole is light and vivacious, delicate greenish, yellowish, brownish, and gray tints prevailing. The upper right-hand corner of the fresco is somewhat obliterated. In black and white it looks like a blank portion of the wall that runs around the city.


« PreviousContinue »