Salviati
Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists


IN the year 1523 Silvio Passerini, Cardinal of Cortona, passed through Arezzo, and Antonio Vasari, being a kinsman of his, went to pay his respects to him, taking his eldest son Giorgio with him. The cardinal, finding that the child, who was only nine years oldl had been already introduced to the study of letters, and that he knew a great part of Virgil by heart, and that he had learnt drawing from a French painter, desired that Antonio Vasari should take his child to Florence. There he placed him in the house of Niccolo Vespucci, a knight of Rhodes, who dwelt near the Ponte Vecchio, and sent him to study under Michael Angelo Buonarroti. At this time Francesco was living in the lane by Messer Bivi gliano's house with his father, a velvet weaver; and as every creature loves its like, he made friends with Giorgio through M. Marco da Lodi. He had shown Giorgio a portrait painted by this Francesco, who had just been placed with the painter Giuliano Bugiardini, which pleased him greatly. Vasari had not then given up the study of letters, but by the cardinal's orders was working for two hours every day with Ippolito and Alessandro de' Medici, under their master Il Pierio. The friendship then contracted between Vasari and Francesco has always lasted between them, though from a certain haughty way of speaking which Francesco had, and from their competing against each other, some have thought otherwise. Vasari, having been some months with Michael Angelo, was placed by him with Andrea del Sarto when he had to go to Rome; and then Giorgio used secretly to convey his master's drawings to Francesco, who had no greater desire than to study them day and night. Afterwards also, when Giorgio was placed by the magnificent Ippolito with Baccio Bandinelli, who was glad to have the boy, he would not rest till he had got Francesco there too, to the great profit of both, for learning and working together, they made more progress in a month than they would have done otherwise in two years.

When the Medici were driven out in I527, during the fighting round the palace of the Signoria, a bench was thrown down upon those who were fighting round the gate, but, as fortune would have it, it struck the arm of Buonarroti's David, and broke it into three pieces. And when the pieces had lain on the ground for three days without any one touching them, Francesco went to the Ponte Vecchio and sought out Giorgio, and the two boys together went to the piazza; and going among the soldiers on guard, without considering the danger, they picked up the pieces and carried them to the house of Francesco's father, where afterwards Duke Cosimo found them and had them repaired with copper rivets.

The Medici being thus banished, and with them the Cardinal of Cortona, Antonio Vasari took his son back to Arezzo, to the no small grief both of himself and of Francesco, for they loved each other like brothers. But they were not long separated, for the next August Giorgio lost his father and others of his family by the plague, and being urged by letters from Francesco, who had himself nearly died of it, he returned to Florence, and they worked together for two years with such incredible earnestness that they made marvellous progress. Aftervrards Francesco went to be with Andrea del Sarto, and was there during the siege, suffering such hardships that he repented he had not gone with Giorgio, who was staying that year at Pisa.

Not long afterwards Benvenuto dalla Volpaia, the clockmaker, being in Rome, was asked by Cardinal Salviati to tell him of a young painter to live with him and paint for him, and Benvenuto proposed Francesco. The cardinal, being pleased with his description of him, gave him money for his journey; and so Francesco went to Rome, where his manners pleasing the cardinal, he ordered that rooms should be given him and four crowns a month, and a place at his gentlemen's table. Francesco, being in Rome, had no greater desire than to see his friend Giorgio Vasari in that city, and fortune was favourable to him, and still more to Vasari; for Cardinal Ippolito, passing through Arezzo, found Giorgio, who had lost his father and was getting on as best he could, and gave orders that he should go to Rome. As soon as Giorgio arrived there he went at once to Francesco, who told him joyfully in what high favour he was with the cardinal his master, and that he was in a place where he could satisfy every desire for study, adding, " I am not only enjoying myself now, but I hope for better things still, for besides having you here in Rome to talk with over matters of art, I am hoping to get into the service of Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, from whose liberality and the favour of the Pope I may expect more than I have at present, and I shall be a made man, if a youth who is expected does not come." Giorgio knew that the youth who was expected was himself, and that the place was kept for him, but he would not say anything, thinking it possible that the cardinal might have some one else in his mind. At length they went to the palace, and Giorgio was received kindly by the cardinal, and orders were given that rooms should be prepared for him, and a place at the page's table. Francesco thought it strange that Giorgio had not confided the matter to him, but concluded he had done it for good reasons, and all that winter they studied together, leaving nothing noteworthy in Rome which they did not draw And because they could not draw when the Pope was in the palace, as soon as he had ridden forth to his villa of the Magliana, they went into the rooms and stayed there from morning to night without eating anything but a little bread, and sometimes chilled with cold. But in the July of the next year Giorgio, from the hardships of the winter and the heat of the summer, fell ill and was carried in a litter to Arezzo, to the great grief of Francesco, who also was taken ill and nearly died. He recovered, however, and was entrusted with some work in S. Maria della Pace and considering that it was not only for a public place, but also in a church where were pictures by the greatest men, Raffaello and others, he put his whole powers into the work, and succeeded very well. As Francesco was living with Cardinal Salviati, and was known as his dependant, he began to be called Cecchino Salviati, which name he bore till his death.

In the year 1536 great and sumptuous preparations were made for the coming of Charles V, and all the artists good and bad were employed under the direction of Antonio da San Gallo. Francesco was charged with some pictures in chiaroscuro, which were placed on the Arch of San Marco, and which were the best in the decorations. At the same time there was painting there a Venetian, Battista Franco, who had given much time to drawing, studying only the drawings, pictures, and sculptures of Michael Angelo. If, however, he had learnt earlier to paint, and had studied the management of colours, he would have excelled. But remaining obstinately of the opinion, which many hold, that drawing is enough for a painter, he did himself great harm. When Salviati afterwards was employed by the Company of the Misericordia, Battista sought to be employed there also, thinking to show himself greater than Francesco, and the best master in Rome. But although he carried out the picture with great labour and pains, it was a long way from being equal to Salviati's, being in a crude, melancholy manner, and without the grace and pleasant colouring that Francesco's had.

Afterwards entering the service of Duke Giudobaldo of Urbino, Battista was employed in making designs for the pottery works at Castel Durante, where they made great use of engravings from the works of Raffaello and others. This porcelain, as far as the quality of the clay goes, resembles much what used to be made in old days in Arezzo, in the time of Porsena, King of Tuscany. But the Romans had not this sort of painting on their vases, as far as we can tell. For the vases which are found from those days containing the ashes of the dead, and others besides, have figures outlined on one colour only black or red or white, but never with a vitreous lustre, nor with those pleasant pictures which we see in our time. Nor can it be said that the colours were once there, but that they have been destroyed by time or by being buried in the earth; for we see that ours can resist time and everything, and they might be buried for four thousand years under the ground and the picturcs would not be spoilt. But although vases and painted china are made all over Italy, the best and most beautiful are those which are made at Castel Durante, a place in the State of Urbino, and those of Faenza, which are for the most part very white, with the design in the centre or round the border, very pleasantly and gracefully drawn.

But to return to Francesco Salviati. He was calle~ upon now for many other pictures, which he showed Giorgio when he went to Rome for two months, after the death of Duke Alessandro. And he told him that when he had finished some pictures upon which he was employed he meant to return to Florence, that he might see his native city and his friends, for his father and mother were still living. He had always assisted them greatly, especially in settling his sisters, one of whom was married, and the other a nun in the convent of Monte Domini. He came therefore to Florence, and was received with great joy by his relatives and friends; and coming just at the time of the wedding of Duke Cosimo, one of the pictures to be painted for the occasion was entrusted to him. He undertook it gladly, but before it was finished went away to Venice, leaving it to another to complete. He was afterwards urged to return, as being certain to be employed by Duke Cosimo, who had no good masters round him; so being persuaded, he came and obtained permission to paint a hall of the ducal palace, desiring no payment, but only leave to paint there. He put forth his utmost efforts in this work, desiring to leave a worthy memorial of himself in his native place. But he had many vexatious hindrances. He was of a melancholy nature, and did not care to have people round him when he was working; but at first, doing violence to his feelings, he allowed his friends to see him work. When, however, he and settle at Florence. He, however, moved y anger and the desire of revenge, returned to Rome; but, afflicted in mind and of an unhealthy constitution, which he had weakened by constantly doctoring himself, he fell sick of a mortal disease, which brought him to his end.