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Vasari Pays Tribute to Brunelleschi 28/03/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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There are many men who, though formed by nature with small persons and insignificant features, are yet endowed with so much greatness of soul and force of character, that unless they can occupy themselves with difficult – nay, almost impossible undertakings, and carry these enterprises to perfection to the admiration of others, they are incapable of finding peace for their lives. And, however mean or unpromising may be the occasion presented to such persons, however trifling the object to be attained, they find means to make it important, and to give it elevation. Therefore it is that none should look with contemptuous glance on any one whom he may encounter, having an aspect divested of that grace and beauty which we might expect that Nature would confer, even from his birth, upon him who is to exhibit distinguished talent, since it is beyond doubt that beneath the clods of earth the veins of gold lie hidden. So much force of mind, and so much goodness of heart, are frequently born with men of the most unpromising exterior, that if these be conjoined with nobility of soul, nothing short of the most important and valuable results can be looked for from them, since they labour to embellish the unsightly form by the beauty and brightness of the spirit.

This was clearly exemplified in Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, who was no less diminutive in person than Messer Forete da Rabatta and Giotto, but who was of such exalted genius withal, that we may truly declare him to have been given to us by heaven, for the purpose of imparting a new spirit to architecture, which for hundreds of years had been lost: for the men of those times had badly expended great treasures in the erection of buildings without order, constructed in a wretched manner after deplorable designs, with fantastic inventions, laboured graces, and worse decorations. But it then pleased Heaven, the earth having been for so many years destitute of any distinguished mind and divine genius, that Filippo Brunelleschi should leave to the world, the most noble, vast, and beautiful edifice that had ever been constructed in modern times, or even in those of the ancients; giving proof that the talent of the Tuscan artists, although lost for a time, was not extinguished.

He was, moreover, adorned by the most excellent qualities, among which was that of kindliness, insomuch that there never was a man of more benign and amicable disposition; in judgment he was calm and dispassionate, and laid aside all thought of his own interest and even that of his friends, whenever he perceived the merits and talents of others to demand that he should do so. He knew himself, instructed many from the stores of his genius, and was ever ready to succour his neighbour in all his necessities; he declared himself the confirmed enemy of all vice, and the friend of those who laboured in the cause of virtue. Never did he spend his moments vainly, but, although constantly occupied in his own works, in assisting those of others, or administering to their necessities, he had yet always time to bestow on his friends, for whom his aid was ever ready.

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