The event of Leonardo da Vinci's birth was recorded by his grandfather, Antonio, then about eighty years old, on the back page of an old notebook that had once belonged to his grandfather. On it he had already noted the births and baptisms of his own four children. There was just room at the bottom of the page to record this new arrival, this new generation -
- There was born to me a grandson, the son of Ser Piero my son, on the 15th day of April, a Saturday, at the 3rd hour of the night. He bears the name Lionardo.
The clock was then reckoned from sunset (or more precisely from the ringing of the Ave Maria bell after vespers). The third hour of the night was about 10:30 p.m.
Luke Syson; Syson, Luke; Larry Keith, Arturo Galansino, Antoni Mazzotta, Scott Nethersole and Per Rumberg (2011). "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan". London: National Gallery
Lyonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci dipintore' was charged 32 soldi for the privilege of membership.
This included 16 soldi for his annual subscription, to be paid in monthly instalments from 1 July 1472, and 10 soldi as a contribution to the company's observances on the feast day of Saint Luke, 18 October.
Leonardo da Vinci produces a pen and ink drawing of the Arno valley that is dated to this day. It is said to be one of the earliest Italian landscape drawings that focuses on the particular character of the location.
Leonardo da Vinci writes in his notebooks that he has begun "two Virgin Marys."
Your Gracious Highness! I have sufficiently seen and tested the productions of all who are considered masters of the art of inventing war-machines. And since the working and function of these instruments is no different from that of the machines in common use, I shall endeavour -- approaching no one else -- to make myself clear to Your Excellency and reveal my secrets. I shall put them at your disposal whenever you desire and hope for good results from the things which I shall now briefly describe ...
First: I have a means of making very light bridges which can be very easily transported ... And I have others which are proof against fire and are thus indestructible in battle, easy to take down and put up again, and I also know of a means to get fire to the bridges of the enemy and destroy them. Secondly: In besieging a place I know how to cut off the water in the dikes, also how to construct many drawbridges and other apparatus necessary for such an undertaking. Thirdly: If during a siege the engines cannot be effectively used on account of the height or strength of the town wall, I have a means to destroy every tower or fortification ... Fourthly: I know of a kind of siege-engine which is very light and easy to move and which can be used hurl fire-bombs. Their smoke will terrify, confuse and severely injure the enemy. Fifthly: I know how to construct subterranean caves and winding passages which can be made without any noise ... Sixthly: I can make sound, indestructible armoured vehicles. If these reach the enemy with their cannons, they can compel the largest forces to retreat and afterwards the infantry can follow them in safety and without any let or hindrance. Seventhly: I can make, if necessary, bombards, mortars and other field-guns ... Eighthly: Where cannons cannot be used I shall construct stone-throwing machines, catapults, slings and other instruments, amazing and hitherto completely unknown ... Ninthly: If this should be necessary, I know of apparatus for use at sea for attack and defence, such as ships which can withstand the force of the strongest opponents and produce dust and smoke. In time of peace I believe I can achieve something in architecture, as well as another, both in building public and private buildings and in channelling water from one place to another. Further, I work as a sculptor in marble, bronze and clay and can paint as well as others with whom I may be compared. I could also add my labours to the bronze horse which is to contribute to the undying fame and eternal memory of your father and the renowned house of Sforza ...
According to Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci, who is a talented musician, creates a silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head.
Leonardo da Vinci accepts the commission for an altar painting offered by the confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which had a chapel in the now demolished church of San Francesco Grande in Milan.
In this July a worship of an image of the Virgin Mary(1) at Prato began; people rushing there from all the country round. It worked miracles like that of Bibbona, so that building was begun and great expense incurred.
(1) This is the Madonna called della Carceri, which is worshipped at Prato, where there was soon built a very elegant temple after the design of Giuliano da San Gallo. Ferdinando Baldanzi wrote a fine description of it, which can be read in the Calendario Pratense of 1847. A church was also built at Bibbona in the Volterrano, in honour of the other image mentioned on the 12th June, 1482. Savonarola alludes to the prodigies worked by these two images in the second of his Poesie tratte dall' autografo, in which he says:
"O anima cecata Tu senti mille segni A Prato e a Bibbona"
Leonardo da Vinci studies anatomy.
They began to build the walls upon the aforesaid foundations.
And at this time the following buildings were erected:
The Osservanza di San Miniato de' Frati di San Francesco(1); the sacristy of Santo Spirito; the house of Giulio Gondi(2); and the church of the Frati di Sant' Agonstino,(3) outside the Porta a San Gallo. And Lorenzo de' Medici began a palace at the Poggio a Caiano, on his property, where so much has been beautifully ordered, the Cascine, etc. Princely things! At Sarrezana a fortress was built; and many other houses were erected in Florence: in the street which goes to Santa Caterina, and towards the Porta a Pinti, and the Via Nuova de' Servi, at Cestello,(4) and from the Porta a Faenza(5) towards San Barnaba, and towards Sant' Ambrogio, and elsewhere. Men were crazy about building at this time, so that there was a scarcity of master-builders and of materials.(6)
(1) The monastery (lately built near San Miniato) of the Osservanza, a Franciscan Order, who already had one at Fiesole. (Trans.)
(2) In our days we have just seen this palace completed on its southern side, thanks to the care of its owner. In finishing this work the remains of the house opposite in Via de' Gondi were demolished; this used to be the Casa della Dogana, and in still older times the Casa delle Prestanze, that Giuliano Gondi bought from the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool) to use in his building, and in it Leonardo da Vinci lived as a boy, a fact which I was the first to prove in July 1872.
(3) Chiesa di Sant' Agonstino. In the siege of 1529 it was demolished together with the convent which was united to it. They occupied almost the same area as the parterre and oratory of the Madonna delle Tosse. The monks were moved into the city, where they were given the church of S. Jacopo tra' Fossi.
(4) Cestello was at that time the name of the present convent of S. Maria Maddalena in Borgo Pinto, which belonged to the Cistercians. In 1628 they exchanged it for that of the nuns of S. Maria degli Angeli of Borgo S. Frediano, still called S. Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi.
(5) See note to 8th June, 1481.
(6) In May 1489 the Signoria, desirous of providing for the beauty of the city, and for the wants and convenience of those who might wish to inhabit it, granted an exemption for forty years from any tax for those new houses which should be built within five years "in places where there was no house or any beginning of one." In March 1494 this term was prolonged to the end of the year 1497.
Impatient with Leonardo's delays in completing the clay model for the The Horse, Ludovico Sforza writes to Pietro Alemanni, the Florentine Ambassador to Milan, asking him to find "a master capable of doing the work."
Leonardo da Vinci breaks off his studies on flight and does not resume them till 1505.
Leonardo da Vinci assists in the preparations for the tournament held in honour of Ludovico Sforza's marriage to Beatrice d'Este. For this he devised an invasion by a company of dancing and singing Scythians or Tartars, costumed as savages and led by a rider mounted on a big horse and wearing a cloak covered with golden scales and painted with peacock's eyes. ('Leonardo da Vinci', p. 61)
From a sheet of instructions that Lodovico Sforza gave to his secretary:
Item, to urge Leonardo the Florentine to finish the work that he has begun at the refectory of the Grazie, so that he may start with the other wall in the same refectory; and have him sign a contract obliging him to finish the work within the stipulated time.
The contract between Michelangelo and the Cardinal di San Dionisio for the Pieta.(1)
Die VII mensis augusti, 1498.
Be it known and manifest to all who shall read this present writing that the Most Reverend Cardinal di San Dionisio has agreed with Maestro Michelangelo, statuary of Florence, that the said Maestro shall at his own proper costs make a Pieta of marble ; that is to say, a draped figure of the Virgin Mary with the dead Christ in her arms, the figures being life-size, for the sum of four hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold (in oro papali), to be finished within the term of one year from the beginning of the work. And the said Most Reverend Cardinal promises to pay the money in the manner following: that is to say, imprimis he promises to pay the sum of one hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold before ever the work shall be begun, and thereafter while the work is in progress he promises to pay to the aforesaid Michelangelo one hundred ducats of the same value every four months, in such wise that the whole of the said sum of four hundred and fifty gold ducats in papal gold shall be paid within a twelvemonth, provided that the work shall be finished within that period: and if it shall be finished before the stipulated term his Most Reverend Lordship shall be called upon to pay the whole of the sum outstanding.
And I, Iacopo Gallo, do promise the Most Reverend Monsignore, that the said Michelangelo will complete the said work within one year, and that it shall be more beautiful than any work in marble to be seen in Rome to-day, and such that no master of our own time shall be able to produce a better. And I do promise the aforesaid Michelangelo on the other hand, that the Most Reverend Cardinal will observe the conditions of payment as herein set forth in writing. And in token of good faith I, lacopo Gallo, have drawn up the present agreement with my own hand the year month and day aforesaid. Furthermore be it understood that all previous agreements between the parties drawn up by my hand, or rather, by the hand of the aforesaid Michelangelo are by this present declared null and void, and only this present agreement shall have effect.
The said Most Reverend Cardinal gave to me, Iacopo Gallo, one hundred gold ducats of the chamber in gold (ducati d'oro in oro di Camera) some time ago, and on the aforesaid day as above set forth I received from him a further sum of fifty gold ducats in Papal gold.
Ita est IOANNES, CARDINALIS S. DYONISII. Idem Iacobus Gallus, manu proprio.
(1) This Madonna della Pieta was carved for Jean de la Groslaye, Cardinal di San Dionigi, and seems to have been contemplated, though not actually begun, some months before the drawing up of the final contract under which the work was executed.
Buonarroti, Michelangelo, trans. Robert W. Carden. "Michelangelo. A Record of His Life", Constable & Company Ltd, 1913: p. 10-12
I showed them to Leonardo Vinci the painter. He praised all of them but especially the crystal one, because it is all of one piece and very clear.... and Leonardo said that he had never seen a better piece.
p12 1501, die XVJ augusti,
Spectabiles . . . virim, the Consuls of the Arte della Lana and the Lords Overseers (of the Cathedral) being met together in joint assembly within the hall of the said Overseers, have chosen as sculptor to the said Cathedral the worthy master, Michelangelo, the son of Lodovico Buonarroti, a citizen of Florence, to the end that he may make, finish and bring to perfection the male figure known as the Giant, nine braccia in height, already blocked out in marble by Maestro Agostino grande of Florence, and badly blocked ; and now stored in the workshops of the Cathedral.
p13 The work shall be completed within the period and term of two years next ensuing, beginning from the first day of September next ensuing, with a salary and payment of six broad florins of gold in gold for every month. And for all other works that shall be required about the said building (edificum) the said Overseers bind themselves to supply and provide both men and scaffolding from their Office and all else that may be necessary. When the said work and the said male figure of marble shall be finished, then the Consuls and Overseers who shall at that time be in authority shall judge whether it merits a higher reward, being guided therein by the dictates of their own consciences.
One day Cesare Valentino, Duke of Romagna and present Lord of Piombino, found himself and his army at a river which was 24 paces wide, and could find no bridge, nor any material to make one except for a stack of wood all cut to a length of 16 paces. And from this wood, using neither iron nor rope nor any other construction, his noble engineer made a bridge sufficiently strong for the army to pass over.
Pedretti, Carlo. "Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style", p.142.
The Marchioness of Mantua writes a letter to the Cardinal of Este, saying that she should very much like to place Michelangelo's statue of Cupid, together with an antique statue of Venus, in her own collection.
Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:
8 August - "make harmonies out of the different falls of water as you saw in the fountain at Rimini on the 8th day of August".
Cesare Borgia of France, by the grace of God Duke of Romagna and Valence, Prince of the Adriatic, Lord of Piombino etc., also Gonfalonier and Captain General of the Holy Roman Church: to all our lieutenants, castellans, captains, condottieri, officials, soldiers and subjects to whom this notice is presented. We order and command that the bearer thereof, our most excellent and well-beloved architect and general engineer Leonardo Vinci, who by our commission is to survey the places and fortresses of our states, should be provided with all such assistance as the occasion demands and his judgement deems fit.
I, your servant, have heard about your intention to build a bridge from Stanboul to Galata, and that you have not done it because no man can be found capable of it. I, your servant, know how. I would raise it to the height of a building, so that no one can pass over it because it is so high ... I will make it so that a ship can pass under it even with its sails hoisted.... I would have a drawbridge so that when one wants one can pass on to the Anatolian coast.... May God make you believe these words, and consider this servant of yours always at your service.
In Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli become involved in a scheme to divert the Arno river, cutting the water supply to Pisa to force its surrender: Colombino, the project foreman, fails to follow da Vinci’s design, and the project is a major failure.
The mural for the Council Hall of Florence was commissioned from Leonardo with a contract of 4 May 1504, signed by Machiavelli as secretary of the Republic; but Leonardo had already begun working on the cartoon in the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella, which had been assigned to him on 24 October of the preceding year.
Leonardo's work on the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari was suddenly interrupted in the last months of 1504, and he went to Piombino on a somewhat official mission as a military architect. (During his absence Michelangelo was to receive the commission for the Battle of Cascina.) His mission was preceded by a diplomatic action conducted by Machiavelli himself. It can be inferred, therefore, that it was Machiavelli who suggested Leonardo's name for the programme of fortification projects suggested by Jacopo IV Appiano, Lord of Piombino, an ally of the Florentines at the time of the Pisian war, 1503-4, when Leonardo had already been consulted on the project of diverting the Arno River for strategic reasons, and when Antonio da Sangallo the Elder was the chief military architect of the Florentine Republic. Leonardo's activity at Piombino, revealed by newly discovered evidence, included the study of the city walls, the citadel and the main gate.
The classical statue of Laocoön and His Sons is unearthed in Rome. On the recommendation of Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo, Pope Julius II purchases it and places it on public display in the Vatican a month later.
Florence, 2 May 1506
To Master Giuliano da Sangallo, Florentine, the Pope's architect in Rome
Giuliano, I learn from your letter that the Pope took my departure very ill, but that His Holiness is ready to pay down the money and do the things whereon we agreed; and that I should return, with no misgivings. As to my departure, it is true that on Saturday in Holy Week I heard the Pope say at table, talking with a jeweller and with the Master of the Ceremonies, that he was resolved not to spend a groat more, either on small stones or on large; the which astonished me mightily. Nevertheless, before leaving, I enquired of him concerning that which I needed for the pursuit of the work. His Holiness replied, that I should return on the Monday: and I did return, on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday, as he saw. At last, on Friday morning, I was sent out, or rather driven away; and then man who sent me away said he knew me, but that such were his orders. (...)
Guliano (sic), I learn from a letter sent by you that the Pope was angry at my departure, that he is willing to place the money at my disposal and to carry out what was agreed upon between us ; also, that I am to come back and fear nothing. As far as my departure is concerned, the truth is that on Holy Saturday I heard the Pope, speaking at table with a jeweller and the Master of the Ceremonies, say that he did not want to spend another baiocco on stones, whether small or large, which surprised me very much. However, before I set out I asked him for some of the money required for the continuance of my work. His Holiness replied that I was to come back again on Monday: and I went on Monday, and on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, and on Thursday as His Holiness saw. At last, on the Friday morning, I was turned out, that is to say, I was driven away : and the person who turned me away said he knew who I was, but that such were his orders. Thereupon, having heard those words on the Saturday and seeing them afterwards put into execution, I lost all hope. But this alone was not the whole reason of my departure. There was also another cause, but I do not wish to write about it ; enough that it made me think that, if I were to remain in Rome, my own tomb would be prepared before that of the Pope. This is the reason for my sudden departure. Now you write to me on behalf of the Pope, and in similar manner you will read this letter to the Pope. Give His HoHness to understand that I am more eager to proceed with the work than ever I was before, and that if he really wishes to have this tomb erected it would be well for him not to vex me as to where the work is to be done, provided that within the agreed period of five years it be erected in St. Peter's, on the site he shall choose, and that it be a beautiful work, as I have promised : for I am persuaded that it will be a work without an equal in all the world if it be carried out.
p24 If His Holiness now wishes to proceed, let him deposit the said money here in Florence with a person whose name I will communicate to you. I have a quantity of marble in preparation at Carrara, which I will have sent here, and I will do the same with the marble I have in Rome, although it will entail a considerable loss to me : but I should disregard that if by this means I could obtain permission to carry out the work here. From time to time I would despatch the pieces as they are finished, in such a manner that His Holiness would be as well content as if I were working in Rome — more, indeed, because he would see the completed works without having any anxiety. With regard to the aforesaid money and work, I will bind myself in any way His Holiness may direct, and I will furnish whatever security here in Florence he may require. Let it be what it may, I will give him full security, even though it be the whole of Florence. There is yet one thing I have to add : it is this, that the said work could not possibly be done for the price in Rome, but it could be done here because of the many conveniences which are available, such as could not be had in Rome. Moreover, I should do better work and take more interest in it, because I should not have to think about a number of other things. However, Guliano mio carissimo I beg of you to let me have an answer, and quickly. I have nothing further to add. This 2nd day of May, 1506.
Sculptor, in Florence.
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, — I send this as cover to two letters one is to go to Piero Aldobrandini, and the other to Giovanni Balducci in Rome. The latter I wish thee to hand to Bonifazio Fazi so that he may send it on, the other give to the aforesaid Piero. p38 Concerning those two scoundrels, I have no time to tell the whole story of their knavery, and I beg all of you — and tell Lodovico the same — not to refer to their behaviour in any way, for we have not to deal with them in this matter. Let this suffice.
The thirteenth day of February, 1506.
MICHELAGNIOLO, in Bolognia.
BUONARROTO, — It is already fifteen days since I sent certain moneys to Lodovico in Florence with certain instructions, and I have never had a reply. I am much surprised at it. Tell Lodovico, therefore, to let me know if he has received them, and if he has done as I asked ; tell him to let me know without fail, because I am annoyed about it and marvel at his want of perception. He is the sort of man that one would entrust with important business again ! I should have expected him to write a hundred letters, to make sure that at least one should reach me. See to it that he informs me without fail as to what steps he has taken and that the letter is sent in such a way as to reach me.
Yesterday I sent to see if Piero's dagger was finished and found that it had still to be gilt. The man has kept me waiting for a month, but the truth is that he was not able to do otherwise, for owing to the departure of the Court he has had to supply weapons to all the courtiers and has had a very great deal to do. It p39 is for this reason he has kept me waiting. Tell Piero not to be anxious, for in any case he shall have it in a few days. The Pope went away on Monday morning at the sixteenth hour, and if thou desirest to learn in what state he has left my affairs, go to the Herald and he will tell thee. I have no time to write.
The twenty-fourth day of February.
Buonarroto, — I did not reply to thy letter or to Piero Aldobrandini's because I had decided not to write until I had received the said Piero's dagger. It is now two months ago that I entrusted this work to a man who has the reputation of being he most skilful master to be found in his particular craft, and although he has kept me waiting until now I did not wish to have it made by anyone else, nor to annul the agreement : wherefore, the aforesaid Piero has some excuse if he considers I have treated him badly, but I could not do otherwise.
Now I have got the dagger back again, or rather, I have got it ; but only this morning, and with much difficulty, for my lad Piero had been obliged to go for it so many times that he was ready to beat the maker over the head with it. Please note that the gold-beater, Chiaro di Bartolomeo, will be the bearer of this and that he will also bring the dagger. See that Chiaro is paid what is due for bringing it, and give it p40 to Piero. If it does not please him, tell him to send me word, and I will have another one made ; and tell him also that since the Court came here every craftsman and all the arts have risen to great dignity and esteem, wherefore he must not marvel if I have so long delayed sending it, for I, too, have had much to think of. This one workman alone has more on his hands since the Court was here than the whole of Bolognia had previously. I have no time for writing. I wrote to Lodovico saying I had received his letters and telling him how I had been deceived, as he will now be able to understand.
On the sixth day of March, 1506.
MICHELAGNIOLO DI LODOVICO BUONARROTI,
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.
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.
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.
Piero Soderini wrote to the Marquis of Massa-Carrara, begging him to retain a large block of marble until Michelangelo could come in person and superintend its rough-hewing for a colossal statue to be placed on the Piazza in Florence.
May 10th, 1508 :
"I record that on this tenth day of May, in the year one thousand five hundred and eight, I, Michelagniolo, sculptor, have received from his Holiness, our p.51lord Pope Julius the Second, five hundred ducats of the Camera, which were paid to me by Messer Carlino, Chamberlain, and by Messer Carlo degli Albizzi, on account of the paintings in the vault of the Chapel of Pope Sixtus, on which I begin to work this day, under the conditions and stipulations set forth in the document prepared by His Most Reverend Lordship of Pa(via) and subscribed by my hand.
"For the assistant painters who are to come from Florence, who will be five in number, twenty gold ducats of the Camera each, with this proviso : that is to say, when they have arrived and have entered into an agreement with us, the aforesaid twenty ducats which each will have received shall be reckoned as part of their wages, these wages to be due as from the day of their departure from Florence. And if they shall not enter into an agreement with us, they are to retain one-half of the said sum for the expenses of their journey and for their time."
The legal quarrel between Leonardo da Vinci and the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of the church of San Francesco Maggiore concerning the Virgin of the Rocks (London version) is finally settled.
The fragment of Leonardo's mural, the Battle of Anghiari, was protected with a wooden frame soon after the return of the Medici to Florence, when the rest of the room was dismantled and eliminated, as we everything referring to the preceding republican government.
A landslide occurred in the Alps near Bellinzona which is described by Leandro Alberti in 1550:
In the past years an earthquake caused a large part of a mountain to collapse, in such a way that the Bregno valley came to be obstructed; and as the river came to be dammed up, it produced a large and dark lake with great damage to the inhabitants of the valley, many of whom were drowned and their houses submerged. And so it stayed for quite some time, until the fallen earth made gradually soft by the infiltrations of the water and being no longer sufficiently strong to retain the immense pressure of it, suddenly burst open to the fury of the swollen waters. And since the former river bed, which was joined to the Ticino, was no longer adequate to contain it, the water flooded all the neighbouring regions, overthrowing in part even that strong wall which Lodovico Sforza had built near Bellinzona.
... for in our own times a similar thing has been seen, that is, a mountain falling seven miles across a valley and closing it up and turning it into a lake.