The Piazza della Signoria has such riches that one is in danger of neglecting some. The Palazzo Vecchio, for example, so overpowers the Loggia de' Lanzi in size as to draw the eye from that perfect structure. One should not allow this to happen; one should let the Palazzo Vecchio's solid nobility wait awhile and concentrate on the beauty of Orcagna's three arches.
The little Bigallo The Misericordia Or San Michele Andrea Orcagna The Tabernacle Old Glass A company of stone saints Donatello's S. George Dante conferences The Guilds of Florence The Palazzo Vecchio Two Towers Bandinelli's group The Marzocco The Piazza della Signoria Orcagna's Loggia Cellini and Cosimo The Perseus Verrocchio's dolphin The Great Council Hall Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo's cartoons Bandinelli's malice The Palazzo Vecchio as a home Two cells and the bell of independence.
"Do I understand that Lady Ordeyne has disappeared?" "Tell me what you have done with her." His crafty features grew satanic; his long fleshy nose squirmed like the proboscis of one of Orcagna's fiends. "Really, Monsieur," said he, with a hideous leer oh, words are impotent to express the ugliness of that face!
And, as if still further to mark the continuity of thought, here in Orcagna's frescoes at Santa Maria Novella you have every horror of the heathen religion incongruously mingled with every horror of the Christian gorgons and harpies and chimæras dire are tormenting the wicked under the eyes of the Madonna; centaurs are shooting and prodding them before the God of Love from the torrid banks of fiery lakes; furies with snaky heads are directing their punishments; Minos and Æacus are superintending their tasks; and, in the centre of all, a huge Moloch demon is devouring them bodily in his fiery jaws, with hideous tusks as of a Japanese monster.
The moment chosen is that in which the Lord says, 'Depart from me, ye cursed, and the idea and even attributes of the principal figure are taken from Orcagna's old painting in the Campo Santo. But with all Michael Angelo's advantages, he has by no means improved on the original idea.
I will give you a single strong instance to make my meaning plainer. In Orcagna's great fresco of the Triumph of Death, one of the incidents is that three kings, when out hunting, are met by a spirit, which, desiring them to follow it, leads them to a churchyard, and points out to them, in open coffins, three bodies of kings such as themselves, in the last stages of corruption.
As first he lived in the Medici palace, but after marrying a wealthy wife, Eleanora of Toledo, he transferred his home to the Signoria, now called the Palazzo Vecchio, as a safer spot, and established a bodyguard of Swiss lancers in Orcagna's loggia, close by. Later he bought the unfinished Pitti palace with his wife's money, finished it, and moved there.
But I can not think, without admiration, of the Campo-Santo, the Duomo, and the Leaning Tower especially of the Campo-Santo. Do you remember Orcagna's 'Death'? I think I could draw every line of it it is so graven on my memory." Miss Lydia was afraid the lieutenant was going to deliver an enthusiastic tirade. "It is very pretty," she said, with a yawn.
It is remarkable, however, that in this work the artist embodied Death not in the form commonly used in his day, but in the old Etruscan figure before mentioned. Orcagna's Death is a female, winged like a bat, and with terrible claws. Armed with a scythe, she swoops down upon the earth and reaps a promiscuous harvest of popes, emperors, kings, queens, churchmen, and noblemen.
There are charming women, however, on the other side of the cloister in the beautiful frescoes of Benozzo Gozzoli. If Orcagna's work was appointed to survive the ravage of time it is a happy chance that it should be balanced by a group of performances of such a different temper.