Not long after his arrival he engaged himself to the painter Agostino Tassi, for whom he cooked, and mixed colors. After a time he himself began to paint.
The building was closed, but an old monk admitted us on application. The interior is quite small, but very old, and the floor is covered with the tombs of princes and prelates of a past century. Near the end I found a small slab with the inscription: "TORQUATI TASSI OSSA HIC JACENT." That was all but what more was needed? Who knows not the name and fame and sufferings of the glorious bard?
As a pastry cook's apprentice he served his time, and then, without any thought of becoming anything else in the world, he set off with several other pastry cooks to go to Rome, where their talents were to be well rewarded. But how strangely things fall out! In Rome he was engaged to make tarts for Agostine Tassi, a landscape painter.
From cleaning brushes it was but a step to trying to use them upon canvas, and Tassi being a good-natured man, began to give Lorrain instruction, till the pastry cook became his master's assistant in the studio.
He was brought up in his father's profession of pastrycook, and in that capacity he went to Rome seeking for employment. As it happened he found it in the house of a landscape painter, Agostino Tassi, who had been a pupil of Paul Bril, and he not only cooked for him but mixed his colours as well, and soon became his pupil. Later he was studying under a German painter, Gottfried Wals, at Naples.
When this prince had the equestrian statue of himself by Antonio Tassi, Gianbologna's pupil, erected in the square of the Corte, he secretly caused to be made, says my anonymous MS., a silver statuette of his familiar genius or angel "familiaris ejus angelus seu genius, quod a vulgo dicitur idolino" which statuette or idol, after having been consecrated by the astrologers "ab astrologis quibusdam ritibus sacrato" was placed in the cavity of the chest of the effigy by Tassi, in order, says the MS., that his soul might rest until the general Resurrection.
He assented, and the young man reached Rome, where he was shortly after engaged by Agostino Tassi, the landscape painter, as his house-servant. In that capacity Claude first learnt landscape painting, and in course of time he began to produce pictures.
Of good ancient stock the Tassi owed their acquisition of wealth to the re-establishment of the system of posting throughout Northern Italy in the thirteenth century, when the immediate progenitor of the poet, one Omodeo de’ Tassi, was nominated comptroller, and it is curious to note that owing to this circumstance the arms of the family containing the posthorn and the badger’s skin—Tasso is the Italian for badger—continued to be borne for many centuries upon the harness of all Lombard coach-horses.
His long clemency is a result of mere fear of laying violent hands upon her. He fears her as something almost supernatural; he would have enjoyed having had her burnt as a witch. Here, then, is the explanation of that silver image quod vulgo dicitur idolino which he caused to be soldered into his effigy by Tassi.
Cullerton were living at the Villa Tassi, out at Montaguto, about three miles from the Porta Romana, on the opposite side of Florence. That same morning I took the steam tram from the Piazza della Signorina, and after three miles of dusty road, alighted at a spot beyond the little village of Galluzzo in the Val d'Ema.