p27 From Bologna, January 22nd, 1507.
BUONARROTO, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee, from which I learn that Lodovico has arranged with Francesco about Mona Zanobia's farm. Thou tellest me also that Giovansimone has begun to attend the same shop as thyself, and that he wants to come here to Bolognia. I have not replied before because I have not had time until to-day. With regard to the above-mentioned farm, thou sayest that Lodovico has entered into an agreement, and that he is going to write to me on the subject. Please understand that if he has written to me I have never received any letter which deals with the matter please tell him this, therefore, so that he may not p28 be surprised at receiving no reply to his letter, if he has written one.
I will tell thee my views about Giovansimone, so that thou mayest impart them to him on my behalf. I do not wish him to come here before I have cast the figure I have in hand, and for this I have a sufficient reason, though do not ask me what it is. Enough that as soon as I have cast the figure I will see that he shall come here without fail. It will then be less inconvenient, as I shall be released from the expenses which I have now to bear.
I expect that by the middle of Lent my figure will be ready for casting, and I pray God that it may turn out well ; for if it be successful I hope to stand well with this Pope and to receive his favour. If I should cast it at mid-Lent and it should turn out well I hope to be in Florence for the Easter festival, and then I will assuredly do by you as I promised, if ye continue to be diligent.
Tell Piero Aldobrandini that I have entrusted his blade to the best worker in such things I can find, and that he promises to let me have it during the coming week. As soon as I receive it I will send it on, if I consider it satisfactory : if not, I will have another made. Tell him also not to be surprised if I have not served him as quickly as I ought, for I have so little time to spare that I could not do otherwise than I have done.
This twenty-second day of January, 1506.
MICHELAGNIOLO DI LODOVICO BUONARROTI, Sculptor, in Bolognia.
Most Revered Father, — I learn from one of your letters that the Spedalingo has not yet come back to Florence and that as a consequence you have been unable to conclude the business about the farm as you desired. It has given me annoyance also, for I supposed you had already paid over the money for it. I half suspect that the Spedalingo has gone away on purpose so that he may not have to give up this source of income but may continue to hold both the money and the farm. Please let me know about it, for should matters be as I fear I would take my money from his keeping and place it elsewhere.
As for my affairs here, I should get on all right if only my marbles were to arrive : but I seem to be most unfortunate in this matter, for since I arrived there have not been two fine days in succession. A boat happened to get here some days ago, but it was only by the greatest good fortune that it escaped accident, as the weather was most unfavourable : and as soon as I had unloaded it the river suddenly rose in flood and submerged it (the marble), so that even p30 now I have not been able to set to work on anything, although I make promises to the Pope and encourage him to hope in order that he may not lose his temper with me ; hoping myself all the time that the weather will improve and that I shall soon be able to begin work—God grant it so ! Please take all the drawings, that is to say, all those papers I put into the sack of which I told you, and make them up into a little bundle and send them to me by some carrier. But see that they are securely done up and run no risk of damage from rain, so that not even the smallest paper may suffer hurt. Bid the carrier take good care of them, for some are of the very greatest importance. Write and say into whose charge you have given them and what I have to pay the man. As to Michele, I wrote to say that he was to put that chest in safety somewhere under cover and then come immediately to Rome where he should want for nothing. I do not know what he has done. I beg of you to enquire into this ; and, further, I beg of you to put yourself to a little trouble over these two things — that is to say, first to see that the chest is put in a safe place under cover, and afterwards I would like you to have the marble Madonna brought to your house, and take care that nobody shall see it. I am not sending you any money for these two things because I do not think they will cost much. If you have to borrow, you can do so, because very soon — if my marble arrives I will send you money for this purpose and for your own use.
p31 I wrote asking you to enquire of Bonifazio the name of the man in Lucca to whom he was going to pay those fifty ducats I am sending to Matteo di Cucherello at Carrara, and I asked you to write the name in the unsealed letter I sent you, which you were to forward to the said Matteo at Carrara so that he might know where to go in Lucca in order to get the money. I expect you have already done this. I beg you also to tell me to whom Bonifazio is paying the money at Lucca, so that I may know his name and can write to Matteo at Carrara telling him from whom he is to receive the said money in Lucca. No more. Do not send me anything more than I write for : my clothes and shirts I give to you and to Giovansimone. Pray to God that my affairs may prosper, and bear in mind that I wish you to invest about a thousand ducats of my money in land, as we have agreed.
On the thirty-first day of January, one thousand five hundred and six.
Your MICHELAGNIOLO, in Rome.
P.S. — Lodovico : I beg you to send on the enclosed letter addressed to Piero d'Argiento, and I beg you to see that he receives it. I think it might be well to send it through the medium of the Jesuits, as he visits them frequently. I beg you to see to this.
The Michele mentioned in this letter is Michele di Piero di Pippo, a stone cutter of Settignano, who was p32 sent to Carrara in connection with the marbles for the facade of San Lorenzo in Florence. With regard to the "Madonna" mentioned further on, it is not certain whether Michelangelo refers to the marble bas-relief now preserved in the Casa Buonarroti in Florence or to the Madonna and Child which is the chief treasure of Notre Dame at Bruges. In passing, it may be worth while to draw attention to the obvious nervousness which marks all Michelangelo's financial transactions. The instructions with regard to the banker at Lucca are characteristic, and afford sufficient proof of the artist's aversion to trusting his money in the hands of other people.
Buonarroto, — I learn from thy letters how matters have gone with regard to the small farm : it has given me the greatest satisfaction and I am well pleased, provided it is a sure thing.
I have made careful enquiries about this Baronciello business, and from what I have heard it is a far more serious thing than ye make it out to be : and for my part, seeing that it is unfair, I would not ask it of him. We are all of us under considerable obligation to Baronciello, and we will do our best to fulfil those obligations, especially such as lie in our power. Thou must know that on Friday evening, at the twenty-first hour. Pope Julius came to my house where I am at work, and remained for about half an hour while I was working. Then he gave me his blessing p33 and went away, showing himself well satisfied with what I am doing. For all this it seems to me we ought to thank God very heartily ; and so I beg you to do, and to pray for me.
I have to inform thee further that on Friday morning I sent away Lapo and Lodovico, who were with me. I turned Lapo away because he was conspiringagainst me and is a rogue, and would not do as he was bid. Lodovico is better, and I would have kept him on for another two months ; but Lapo, in order not to be the only one blamed, corrupted him in such a way that both have been sent off. I tell thee this not because I am troubled by them — for they are not worth three quattrini the two together — but so that, if they come to talk to Lodovico, he should not be surprised. Tell him on no account to listen to them: if thou desirest to know more go to Messer Agniolo, Herald of the Signoria, for I have sent him a full account of the matter, and he of his kindness will give thee all information.
I note what thou sayest about Giovansimone. It pleases me that he should enter thy master's shop and endeavour to make progress : encourage him to do his best, for if this matter turns out well I have hopes of placing you in a good position, if ye are prudent. With reference to that other land beside Mona Zanobia's, if Lodovico likes it tell him to enquire into the matter and let me know. I believe, and it is said here, that the Pope will go hence about Carnival.
On the first day of February, 1506 (1507).
MICHELAGNIOLO DI LODOVICO DI BUONARROTA SIMONI, Sculptor, in Bolognia.
Most Revered Father, — I have to-day received a letter from you, from which I learn that Lapo and Lodovico have been talking to you. I am content that you should rebuke me, because I deserve to be rebuked as a wretch and a transgressor quite as much as anyone else, and perhaps more. But you must understand that I have not transgressed in any wise in the matter for which you rebuke me, either against them or against anyone else, unless it be that I have done more than I ought. All the men with whom I have ever had dealings know very well what I give them ; and if anyone knows it, Lapo and Lodovico are the two who know it best of all, for in a month and a half one of them has had twenty-seven broad ducats and the other eighteen broad ducats, each with their expenses. Therefore I beg of you not to be carried away by their story. When they complained about me you ought to have asked how long they were with me and how much they had received from me then you would have had to ask them what cause they had for complaint. But the reason of their great anger, particularly of that rascal Lapo, is this they had given it out on all sides that they were the men who were doing this work, or rather, that they were in partnership with me ; and they never realised — Lapo in particular — that he was not the master until I sent him off. Only then did he understand that he was in my service ; and having already given p35 a great deal of trouble and caused the Pope's favour to show signs of declining, it appeared a strange thing to him that I should drive him away like a beast. I am sorry that he should still have seven ducats of mine, but when I return to Florence he shall most assuredly pay me back, though if he has any conscience he would also feel obliged to give me back the other money he has received. But enough. I shall say no more about it as I have written a sufficiently full account of their performances to Messer Agniolo (the Herald). I beg you to go to him, and if you can take Granaccio with you, do so, and let him read the letter I have written so that he may understand what abject creatures they are. But I beg of you to keep silent as to what I have written about Lodovico, for if I cannot find anyone else to come here and cast the metal I shall endeavour to get him back, because as a matter of fact I have not dismissed him ; only Lapo, who received more blame than he cared to support alone, lightened his own load by corrupting Lodovico. You will learn the whole matter from the Herald, and also how you are to act. Do not have any dealings with Lapo, for he is too great a scoundrel, and we have nothing to do with either of them.
With reference to Giovansimone, it does not seem to me advisable that he should come here, as the Pope is leaving during Carnival ; I believe he will visit Florence on the way, and he does not leave affairs here in good order. According to rumour, there is a want of confidence prevalent here which it is wise neither to inquire into nor to write about : but enough that, even if nothing were to happen — and I believe p36 nothing will — I do not want to have the care of brothers on my shoulders. Do not be surprised at this and do not breathe a word of it to anyone, because I have need of assistants, and I should find none willing to come if this were known. And besides, I still think things may turn out well. I shall soon be back in Florence and I will behave in such a manner as to satisfy Giovansimone and the others, if it please God ! To-morrow I will write you another letter with reference to certain moneys I wish to send to Florence, telling you what to do with them. I understand about Piero ; he will answer on my behalf, for he is a good fellow, as he has always been.
P.S. I have something else to add in reply to the curious behaviour Lapo attributes to me. I want to tell you one thing, and it is this. I bought seven hundred and twenty pounds of wax, and before I bought it I told Lapo to find out where it could be got, and to settle the price, saying that I would give him the money so that he could buy it. Lapo went, and came back again, and told me that it could not be got for a farthing less than nine broad ducats and twenty bolognini the hundred (pounds), which is equal to nine ducats forty soldi. He added that I ought to take the opportunity without delay because I had been very fortunate. I replied that he was to go and find out whether he could get the odd forty soldi per hundred knocked off and that I would then buy it. He answered that the Bolognesi were of such a nature that they would not abate one farthing of the price p37 they had asked. This raised my suspicions, and I let the matter drop. Later in the same day I called Piero aside and told him secretly to go and ask the price of the wax per hundred. Piero went to the same man as Lapo and bargained with him for eight and a half ducats, to which price I agreed, and afterwards I sent Piero to receive his commission, and he got that also. This is one of my strange performances. Of a truth I know it seemed strange to him that I was able to see through his deceit. It was not enough for him to receive eight broad ducats a month and his expenses, but in addition he tried to swindle me ; and he may have swindled me on many occasions of which I know nothing, for I trusted him. I have never met a man who appeared more honest, so I suppose his straightforward look must have misled many another person. Therefore do not trust him in anything, and pretend not to see him.
The Francesco Granaccio mentioned here was a painter and a fellow-student with Michelangelo in the workshop of Domenico Ghirlandaio. He studied also with Michelangelo in the Medici Garden at San Marco.
BUONARROTO, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee acquainting me with the whole story of Piero Aldobrandini and the dagger. I may tell thee that if it were not for love of thee I would leave him to babble on as long as he liked. Thou must know that the blade I sent, and thou hast received, was made according to his — that is to say, Piero's measurements, for he sent me a drawing in a letter and told me that I was to get it made exactly like that. I did so. However, if he wanted a dagger he should not have sent me measurements for a rapier : but I wish to tell thee in this letter what I would not say before, and that is, that thou hadst better not have p41 dealings with him because it is not thy business. If he should come to thee for the aforesaid blade, by no means let him have it ; put a good face on the matter and tell him I gave it to one of my friends that will be enough. I may tell thee that it cost me nineteen carlini here, with thirteen quattrini for the tax.
My affairs here are proceeding favourably, by the grace of God, and I hope to cast my figure before a month is past. Pray God, therefore, that it may turn out well, so that I may return quickly to you, for I am minded to do for you all as I promised. Be kind to Giovansimone and tell him to write to me sometimes, and say to Lodovico that I am well and that I will certainly let him know before I cast my figure. Commend me to Granaccio when thou seest him. I have nothing more to tell thee. The plague is beginning here, and is of a virulent type, for wherever it enters it carries off all within the house, although at present it has not claimed many victims — forty households, perhaps, so they tell me.
This twenty-sixth day of March.
Sculptor, in Bolognia.
P.S. — If thou hast given the dagger to Piero say no more about it, but if thou hast not done so do not give it him at all.
Much to Michelangelo's satisfaction, Piero refused the dagger, which enabled the artist to give it to Filippo Strozzi, who had admired it.
Buonarroto,—To-day I have received thy letter of the 17th of April, from which I learn the long journey my letters have to make before reaching Florence. I cannot alter it, because the arrange- ments are bad. I have learnt many things from thy letter, but I do not reply to them because there is no need. I am sorry thou hast behaved to Filippo Strozzi in so miserly a fashion over so small a matter (i.e.^ the dagger), but since it is done it cannot be undone.
With regard to my own affairs, I am writing to Giovansimone and he will tell thee how I prosper : say the same to Lodovico.
I would like thee to go to the Herald and tell him that as I have never received a reply from him with reference to Messer Bernardino I have concluded that the said Messer Bernardino is unwilling to come here for fear of the pestilence ; wherefore I have engaged a Frenchman to take his place, who will serve me well. I did this because I could not wait any longer. Please let this be known, that is to say, tell Messer Agniolo (the Herald). Commend me to him, and tell him to commend me to his lordship the Gonfaloniere (Piero Soderini). Commend me to Giovanni da Ricasoli when thou seest him. The twentieth day of April.
MiCHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
NOTE p47 The Messer Bernardino is Bernardino d'Antonio dal Ponte di Milano, superintendent of artillery to the Florentine Republic from 1504 to 1512. He took Lodovico di GugHelmo del Buono's place with Michelangelo, and cast the figure of Julius.
Giovan Simone, — I have already replied to a letter from thee some days ago. By this time I believe thou wilt have received mine and wilt have learnt my views. If thou hast not received it, thou wilt learn from this letter all that I wrote to thee in the last. I expect Buonarroto will have told thee of my intentions, and thou mayst take it all for settled, for directly I reach Florence, I intend, with God's permission, to set you up in business either by yourselves or in partnership, whichever ye desire, and in whatever manner may appear to us the most secure. Wherefore be of good courage and rely upon what I have told thee as being a certainty. I have no time now for writing ; therefore I will write again more fully later on. I am well and have finished my figure in p45 wax. This coming week I shall begin to make the outer mould, and expect to have it complete in from twenty to twenty-five days. After that I shall prepare for the casting, and if it comes out well I shall be in Florence shortly after.
On the 28th day of April. MICHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
Giovan Simone, — Some days ago I received a letter from thee which gave me much pleasure. Since then I have written thee two letters, and I suppose I have had the same good fortune with respect to them that I usually have, that is to say, I suppose they have not arrived.
I may tell thee that, please God, two months will not pass before I return to Florence : and all that I have promised to do for Buonarroto and for thee I am prepared to carry out. I do not write to thee of my intentions at full length, nor do I say how eager I am to help you, because I am loath that others should get to know of our affairs : be of good cheer, however, for greater — or rather, better — things are in store for thee than thou thinkest. I have no more to tell thee on this head. Thou must know that here everyone is preparing for war, and this is the fourth day that the whole district has been under arms and a prey to rumoured dangers, with which the Church in especial is threatened : the cause of it being the Bentivogli, p46 who have made an attempt to enter the city with a great following of people. The high courage and prudence of his lordship the Legate, however, and the admirable precautions he has taken have, I believe, saved the patrimony from them once more, since at the twenty-third hour this evening we had news from their forces that they were turning back again with small honour to themselves, No more. Pray God for me : and live in happy expectation, because soon I shall be back in Florence.
The 2nd day of May.
The Bentivogli, sometime lords of Bologna, had been driven out by the Papal forces, and it was as a result of this reoccupation that Julius visited the city, as related in Michelangelo's letters. Shortly after the Pope's departure, however, Annibale Bentivoglio made the attempt to which this letter refers, but was repulsed by the Papal Legate, the Cardinal di Pavia.
Buonarroto, — Learn that we have cast my statue, and that I was not over fortunate with it, the reason being that Maestro Bernardino, either through ignorance or misfortune, failed to melt the metal sufficiently. It would take too long to explain how it happened : enough that my figure has come out up to the waist, the remainder of the metal — half the p. 47 bronze, that is to say — having caked in the furnace, as it had not melted ; and to get it out the furnace must be taken to pieces. I am having this done, and! this week I shall have it built up again. Next week I shall recast the upper portion and finish filling the mould, and I believe it will turn out tolerably well after so bad a beginning, though only as the result of the greatest labour, worry and expense. I was ready to believe that Maestro Bernardino could melt his metal without fire, so great was my confidence in him : but all the same it is not that he is not a skilled master, or that he did not work with a will. But he who tries may fail. His failure has been costly to him as well as to me, for he has disgraced himself to such an extent that he dare not raise his eyes in Bologna.
If thou shouldst meet Baccio d'Agnolo, read this letter to him and beg him to inform San Gallo in Rome, and commend me to him. Commend me also to Giovanni da Ricasoli and to Granaccio. If this turns out satisfactorily I hope to be finished with it in from fifteen to twenty days, when I will return to you. If it is not successful I should perhaps have to do it again, but I will keep you informed.
Let me know how Giovansimone is.
On the 6th day of July.
P.S. With this I shall enclose a letter for Giuliano da San Gallo in Rome. Send it as securely and as quickly as thou canst : if he should be in Florence, give it into his hands.
I have no time to reply to thy last letter as it deserves, but thou mayst learn that I am well and shall soon have finished, and expect to win very great honour ; all of which proceedeth from the grace of God. Directly I have completed my work I shall come to Florence, and then I will deal in such a way with all the matters of which thou writest that ye shall be satisfied, and Lodovico and Giovansimone as well. I pray thee go and seek out the Herald and the Commandant Tommaso (Balducci) : tell them I have not time to write, or rather, to reply to their very welcome letters ; but that by the next post I will assuredly write something to them by way of reply. Also I beg thee to seek out San Gallo, and to tell him that I expect to have finished soon. Find out how he is, and tell him that by the next post I will write and inform him how the work is going on. No more.
The — day of October.
Buonarroto, — I marvel that thou writest to me so seldom. I am sure thou hast more leisure for writing to me than I have for writing to thee, so let me have news from thee frequently.
Thy last letter informed me that thou hadst good 49 reason to wish for my speedy return, with the result that for several days I was uneasy in my mind. Therefore, when thou writest, write boldly and explain matters clearly so that I may understand them. Let this suffice.
Know that I look forward to my early return far more eagerly than ye could possibly do, for I live here in the greatest discomfort, subject to the greatest anxieties, and do nothing but labour day and night. I have undergone and am undergoing so much strain that, if I were obliged to make another figure, I do not believe my life would suffice for it, as the undertaking has been one of enormous difficulty ; had it been entrusted to anyone else it would have turned out a failure. But I believe the intercessions of somebody or other have assisted me and kept me in health, for all Bologna was of opinion that I should never complete it : both since it was cast and before, when there was no one who believed the casting would ever take place. However, it is now well on the way to completion, though it will not be finished by the end of this month as I had expected ; but next month it will certainly be off my hands, and I will return to Florence. So be of good cheer, all of ye, for I will do as I promised, whatever happens. Cheer Lodovico and Giovansimone in my name and let me know how Giovansimone is getting on : strive to learn and acquire a knowledge of the business, so that when the time comes ye may know how to trade for yourselves, which will be before long.
On the tenth day of November.