Francia Bigio filled his background with a careful architectural perspective, and a crowd of muscular Romans are grouped before it. This also was left unfinished at the Pope's death, and Allori completed it in 1582. Francia Bigio, however, did many of the gilded decorations of the hall.
It seems to me, nevertheless, that a fine Filippo Lippi is good enough company for an Allori or a Cigoli, and that that too deeply sentient Virgin of Botticelli might happily balance the flower-like irresponsibility of Raphael's "Madonna of the Chair."
Then was presented the extraordinary spectacle of the greatest art critic in Italy crawling on hands and knees over a ballroom floor, taking care to keep as close to that floor as possible, and pausing now and then to make a careful scrutiny of the canvases that hung on the walls above him. "That's probably an Allori," he would call to his assistant. "Remember to take that down after it gets dark.
There are giraffes, lions, and all kinds of animals, which he had an opportunity of studying in the Serraglio of Florence. The drawing is true and free, the figures and animals full of life, the colouring as usual well harmonised and bright. The Pope died about this time in 1522, and the picture was left to be finished by Allori in 1580.
And Andrea del Sarto how gracious and noble; but Henry James says he's second-rate, because his mind was second-rate, so I suppose he is, but not to me. He never will be to me. To-morrow you must come and see some of the things I specially love. I won't bore you. I don't know enough to bore you yet. Oh, and Allori's 'Judith' so lovely, but I wonder if Allori did justice to her?
Up-stairs familiar names such as Domenichino, Bassano, Cortona, Crespi, Bellino, Pietra della Vecchia, Allori, Veronese, Maratta, Guido Reni, Romano need not detain us. The catalogue numbers of the Italian school go as high as 628. The Titians, however, are the glory of the Prado. The Spanish school begins at 629, ends at 1,029.
On the mantelpiece were some ancient vases, which he had brought with him from Italy, standing on each side of that picture of Allori of which we have spoken. The servant returned to the ante-room, and announcing to the delegates that his master was ready to receive them, ushered into the presence of Egremont WALTER GERARD and STEPHEN MORLEY.
But their religious pictures are almost all intolerable, and their Madonnas are almost all portraits. Rubens and Albano painted their wives; Allori and Vandyck their mistresses; Domenichino his daughter.
There is an admirable Judith in this gallery by Allori; a face of great beauty and depth, and her hand clutches the head of Holofernes by the hair in a way that startles the spectator. There are two peasant Madonnas by Murillo; simple women, yet with a thoughtful sense of some high mystery connected with the baby in their arms.
"I would rather choose this," said Egremont, and he pointed to the portrait of a saint by Allori: the face of a beautiful young girl, radiant and yet solemn, with rich tresses of golden brown hair, and large eyes dark as night, fringed with ebon lashes that hung upon the glowing cheek. "Ah! you choose that! Well, that was a great favourite of poor Sir Thomas Lawrence.