It is really the decadence, certainly prophesied in the later work of Andrea del Sarto, that we come to in the work of that pupil of his, who was influenced by what he could understand of the work of Michelangelo. Jacopo Pontormo's work almost fails to interest us to-day save in his portraits.
Franciabigio's and Rosso's frescoes stand beside Del Sarto's in the atrium of the Annunziata at Florence. Pontormo's portraits of Cosimo and Lorenzo de' Medici in the Uffizzi, though painted from busts and medallions, have a real historical value. The "Christ in Limbo" in S. Lorenzo at Florence, and the detestable picture of "Time, Beauty, Love, and Folly," in our National Gallery.
He caused the triumphs to be carefully prepared by the best artists, the dresses of the masquers to be accurately studied, and their chariots to be adorned with illustrative paintings. Michelangelo's old friend Granacci dedicated his talents to these shows, which also employed the wayward fancy of Piero di Cosimo and Pontormo's power as a colourist. "It was their wont," says Il Lasca, "to go forth after dinner; and often the processions paraded through the streets till three or four hours into the night, with a multitude of masked men on horseback following, richly dressed, exceeding sometimes three hundred in number, and as many on foot with lighted torches. Thus they traversed the city, singing to the accompaniment of music arranged for four, eight, twelve, or even fifteen voices, and supported by various instruments." Lorenzo represented the worst as well as the best qualities of his age. If he knew how to enslave Florence, it was because his own temperament inclined him to share the amusements of the crowd, while his genius enabled him to invest corruption with charm. His friend Poliziano entered with the zest of a poet and a pleasure-seeker into these diversions. He helped Lorenzo to revive the Tuscan Mayday games, and wrote exquisite lyrics to be sung by girls in summer evenings on the public squares. This giant of learning, who filled the lecture-rooms of Florence with Students of all nations, and whose critical and rhetorical labours marked an epoch in the history of scholarship, was by nature a versifier, and a versifier of the people. He found nothing' easier than to throw aside his professor's mantle and to improvise ballate for women to chant as they danced their rounds upon the Piazza di S. Trinit
Among Pontormo's friends, particularly in this last period of his life, were Pier Francesco Vernacci and Don Vincenzio Borghini, with whom he took his recreation, sometimes eating with them, but rarely. But above all others, and always supremely beloved by him, was Bronzino, who loved him as dearly, being grateful and thankful for the benefits that he had received from him.
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