The Youth of Michelangelo

By Charles De Tolnay | Go to book overview

XIII. THE QUARREL

EITHER in December 1505 or January 1506 Michelangelo returned to Rome by way of Florence. By the end of the same month he was impatiently awaiting the arrival of his marble shipments from Carrara, which had been held up by contrary winds and high water in the Tiber. Blocks from one ship had arrived but were now sunk below the river which had recently overflowed. He complains of this "great misfortune" in a letter to his father (Milanesi, p. 6). In the same letter he asks his father to send him certain drawings which he had left packed up in Florence. He also requested to have transported "quella Nostra Donna di marmo," that is, the Bruges Madonna, from the studio in his father's house and asked that no one be allowed to see it (Milanesi, p. 7). This last remark indicates that the artist was conscious of the original character of this work.

Michelangelo had meanwhile established a residence and studio in a house near the Piazza di San Pietro "dietro a Santa Caterina" (Milanesi, p. 493). He had summoned workers from Florence (garzoni) to help in executing the tomb. Suddenly his preparations are blasted.

According to Michelangelo's account of the matter, in April 1506 he heard that Julius told a jeweler, in the presence of the master of ceremonial ( Paris de Grassis), that he "did not wish to pay out another cent (baioco) for big or little stones" (Milanesi, p. 377). When Michelangelo came to the papal court on Holy Saturday, April 11, to get some money, he was told to "come back Monday" (April 13). On four successive days he returned and was each time again refused a visit with the Pope.

On Friday the artist was, he says, actually "thrown out" ; Milanesi, p. 377). He continues in this letter "he who threw me out [the palafreniere; Milanesi, p. 493] told me that he knew me, but that he had the order to act thus."

As we have seen, Michelangelo chose the "New Choir" as location for the Tomb. The Pope agreed on this point, but wished to go further and reconstruct the whole of the church. He accepted the plans of Bramante for this project. The work on the whole church must have seemed more pressing to Julius than the execution of his Tomb which was to be placed in it. And so he ignored Michelangelo's request for expense money, as has been described. On April 17, 1506, Michelangelo left Rome secretly and went to Florence (Milanesi, pp. 377 and 493). 120

His flight may be easily attributed to disappointment at having to leave the Tomb project in mid-air, and also his humiliation at the papal court. But in a letter to Giuliano da San Gallo he hints at another reason: "There is also another, matter about which I do not wish to write" (Milanesi, p. 377). If he had remained, he declares, he would have had to execute his own tomb earlier than the Pope's. When we find that one day after his flight ( April 18, 1506), the cornerstone of the new St. Peter's was laid by Bramante, we may surmise this event to have influenced Michelangelo to leave the city, as it may well have seemed a personal defeat to him.

-34-

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The Youth of Michelangelo
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • Life 1
  • I - Origins 3
  • II - Early Childhood 11
  • III - Apprenticeship in the Studio of the Brothers Ghirlandaio 14
  • IV - In the School of the Giardino Mediceo 16
  • V - The Court of Lorenzo De' Medici 18
  • VI - Florence under Piero De' Medici 20
  • VII - Bologna la Grassa 22
  • VIII - Florence, the Free Republic 24
  • IX - Quattrocento Rome 26
  • X - Classical Florence 29
  • XI - Imperial Rome 32
  • XII - Carrara 33
  • XIII - The Quarrel 34
  • XIV - Refuge in Florence 36
  • XV - Bologna under Julius II 38
  • XVI - Return to Florence 41
  • Notes to Part I 42
  • Artistic Development 61
  • Introduction 63
  • I - Foundations of the New Style 65
  • II - Primordial Visions of Life and Destiny 75
  • III - Differentiation of Emotions 83
  • IV - Differentiation of Outward Form 89
  • V - Differentiation of Inward Structure: Classical Style 93
  • VI - Return to the Vision of Preterhuman Forces 113
  • Conclusion 117
  • Critical Catalogue 119
  • Introduction to the Catalogue 121
  • Catalogue of Original Sculpture and Painting 123
  • Catalogue of Drawings Nil 173
  • Catalogue of Lost Works 193
  • Catalogue of Apocryphal and Falsely Attributed Works 225
  • Paintings Falsely Attributed to Michelangelo's Youth 236
  • Appendices 239
  • Bibliographical Abbreviations 257
  • Addenda 263
  • Index 265
  • The Illustrations 281
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