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ISABELLA BUYS HIS FAUSTINA 367
let Andrea know her decision as soon as she had seen it. On the 1st of August, Gian Giacomo wrote as follows:—
"Your Highness will have heard from Capilupi that I received the Faustina from M. Andrea Mantegna, who, although he gave it me into my hands without any conditions, and was very willing to gratify your wish, yet did this with great ceremony, and entrusted the marble to me with repeated injunctions, and many signs of jealous affection, so much so that if six days were to expire without his seeing it again, I am almost certain that he would die. Although I have not said a word about the price, he himself repeated that he would not take less than 100 ducats, begging your pardon for this his pertinacity, but declaring that, unless he were compelled by necessity, he would not part from it for much more. I am sorry I could not send it by to-day's boat, and perhaps six days may elapse before another boat starts, but Your Signory will let me know if you wish it to be sent by messenger."1
Immediately on receiving the precious bust, Isabella wrote to tell Mantegna that she would keep it, and give him the price which he asked.
"M. Andrea,—We have received your head of Faustina, which pleases us, and which we desire to have for the price which you ask, for, even if it were not worth the 100 ducats, we should be glad to give it you for your pleasure and convenience. But since, owing to the disturbance caused by the plague, we have no ready money, we are sending you our servant Cusatro to make arrangements which may meet your needs and our own, because he can tell 368 AND PAYS HIS DEBTS
1 D'Arco, op. tit., ii. 66.
you what we are able to do, and we will not fail to do whatever he promises. We beg you to be content to settle the matter with Cusatro, and shall be content to abide by whatever you and he may decide. We will keep the head until Cusatro returns, and, if you do not agree to his terms, will return it at once." Sacchetta, August 4, 1506.
The result of Cusatro's interview with the painter was that the Marchesa agreed to be responsible for 100 ducats which he owed to his chief creditor. Immediately after her servant's return to Sacchetta, Isabella hastened to set the old man's mind at rest on the subject.
"M. Andrea,—We sent for Hieronimo Bosio, your creditor, and, according to the arrangement which you made with Cusatro, we came to an agreement as to the 100 ducats, which he will be content to take from us. So you need have no further anxiety on the subject, and whenever you wish it we will pay these 100 ducats, which will be given to him, and paid by us for the Faustina. Of the remaining 27 ducats which you still owe, Hieronimo cannot dispose, because they are due to his brother Alessandro, and we have not at present the means of paying the money, which we would gladly do, as earnest money for the picture which you are painting for us, and in order to give you ease and peace of mind. But you will excuse us, because you know the extreme difficulty that we have in finding money at the present time."1 Sacchetta, August 7.
Isabella, it is clear, was genuinely anxious to deal kindly by the old painter, whose great services she 1 Kristeller, op. cit., App., Doc. 79 and 80.
DEATH OF MANTEGNA 369
fully appreciated, although in her passion for enriching her studio she did not scruple to deprive him of his beloved Faustina. As Calandra had prophesied, he did not long survive the loss of his treasured marble. Six weeks afterwards he died, on Sunday the 13th of August, and Francesco Mantegna, the son who had caused him so much sorrow, wrote to inform his patron, the Marquis, of his death, telling him that with his dying breath his father had asked for His Excellency, lamenting his lord's absence, and had sent him a last message. "We are sure," he adds, "that Your Excellency, who always rewards his true servants generously, will not forget the fifty years' service rendered you by such a man, and will help us in our present loss and sorrow."'
On the following day the news of Mantegna's death reached Venice, and, in a brief note to Isabella, that true artist, Lorenzo da Pavia, paid a noble tribute to the great painter: "I am much grieved to hear of the death of our Messer Andrea Mantegna. For, indeed, we have lost a most excellent man and a second Apelles, but I believe that the Lord God will employ him to make some beautiful work. As for me, I can never hope to see again a finer draughtsman and more original artist. Farewell.—Your servant, Lorenzo Da Pavia in Venecia."2 October 16, 1506.
The great master had no truer epitaph.
Isabella's reply was brief but sincere: "Lorenzo,— We were sure that you would grieve over the death of M. Andrea Mantegna, for, as you say, a great fight has gone out."»
1 D'Arco, op. cit., ii. 67. 2 Armand Baschet, op. cit., p. 47. 8 Kristeller, op. cit., App., Doc. 84. VOL. I. 2 A 1 D'Arco, op. ciU, ii. 77.
370 ELISABETTA'S REGARD FOR HIM
The Marchesa's interest in Mantegna's family did not cease with his death, and through her influence his son was allowed to retain his house in the Borgo Pradella. In November 1507, Lodovico Mantegna wrote begging her to help him to recover certain moneys, which Cardinal Sigismondo had granted the brothers on the tolls in payment of the pictures which he had kept, so that they might be able to defray the expenses of their father's funeral and of their own mourning. Two years afterwards Lodovico died, and Francesco, after trying to kill his widowed sister-in-law, and seize his nephew's patrimony, applied to Elisabetta of Urbino for redress, declaring that he had been cruelly defrauded by the corruption and malignity of legal officers. The kind Duchess wrote in touching terms to her brother, the Marquis, begging him to repair the supposed injustice which had been done to Mantegna's son—" for the sake of the more than ordinary love which I bore to Messer Andrea, who, as Your Excellency knows, was a man of rare genius and most devoted to our house. Truly," she goes on, "this love that we bore him in life, did not end with his death, but also extended to his son Francesco, for whom I am inclined to cherish the greatest devotion, because he is now Messer Andrea's only surviving son."* But Francesco's real character was too well known at Mantua for the Marquis to attend to his complaints, and, in spite of Elisabetta's intercession, he never recovered his patron's favour.
Among the works that remained in Mantegna's workshop at the time of his death were the so-called Triumph of Scipio, which had been ordered by COSTA FINISHES THE COMUS 371
Francesco Cornaro, and the famous Cristo in scurto, or foreshortened Christ, from which the painter would never part in his life-time. Both of these were retained by Cardinal Sigismondo Gonzaga, while a third, the imposing St. Sebastian, now belonging to Baron Franchetti of Venice, became the property of Bishop Louis Gonzaga. After that art-loving prelate's death in 1511, this noble work passed into the hands of Cardinal Bembo, in whose house at Padua Marco Antonio Michiel saw it. But no mention was made of the unfinished Comus, which had evidently been ordered by Isabella for her studio, and now passed into her hands. A few months afterwards she employed the Ferrarese artist, Lorenzo Costa, who settled at Mantua in November 1506, and succeeded Mantegna as court painter, to finish this Storia, which in style and subject agrees exactly with the works which Mantegna, Perugino, and Costa himself had already painted for her Grotta. The group of Janus and Envy and Mercury driving out three figures of the Vices on the right, agrees exactly with Calandra's description, while the word Comes is inscribed on the triumphal arch which occupies a prominent place in the picture. In the inventory of 1542, this painting is described as being " by the hand of M. Lorenzo Costa, and containing a triumphal arch and many figures making music, together with a fable of Leda." The real title of the Storia, it is plain, was the Triumph of Music, in the person of the mirth-loving Comus, the god of musical inspiration, who is here seen leading the joyous Bacchic train, while Orpheus and Arion are both introduced
1 This has been convincingly shown by Dr. Kristeller, op. tit., p. 358.