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A Country Fair at Impruneta 06/04/2011

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c. 1905

‘All paths lead to London’ runs the old saying. Certainly on the morning of a country fair all ways converge towards one centre – the head of each stately ox, the snout of each rebellious and unwilling pig, is turned in the same direction; and horses, donkeys, vehicles of all shapes and sizes loaded with men and merchandise, cattle, contadini, hawkers, and beggars, pour in a continual stream along every road. There is hardly a more animated scene imaginable than a Tuscan fair, for the natural gaiety of the people, their brilliant dresses, ready smiles, vivacious gestures, and unaffected enjoyment of the outing, all add to the allegria, and when the sunbeams pour down out of that blue Italian sky which haunts the dreams of travellers, it must indeed be a sad heart which does not rejoice.

It was yet early on an October morning when we set out for the fair at the Impruneta which, held annually on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the week of St. Luke’s feast, is one of the oldest and most famous in Tuscany, and one to which an immense concourse of people has always gathered since ancient times. The Impruneta is itself an interesting little place, renowned for its Black Madonna, a miracle picture which is only allowed to gladden the eyes of the faithful once in five-and-twenty years; and for its potteries, where jars and vases in thick earthenware are made, of every size and shape. Two hours’ cross-country drive lay before us as the carriage turned out between the high mossy pillars which guard the Villa gates.

Heavy rain had fallen in the night; the olives which bordered the road gleamed ghostly from a shroud of silvery haze, and the landscape looked mysterious and unsubstantial through the ‘pale frail mist’; but the sun, rising higher and striking its arrows aslant the pearly vapours, awoke all the colours which burn in the heart of an opal, and as its power increased the fog cleared, leaving pure blue sky. The country was radiant in the freshness of the autumn morning, the sun lending glory to the gold and bronze of the vine leaves, and touching into fierier tints the scarlet and orange of the bare willow branches, and the hips-and-haws and clusters of pyracanthus berries along the road. The river Greve reflected a fairy-world of grassy slopes and shimmering foliage in the opaque green of the water; everywhere the pink autumnal roses pushed their shy, sweet faces over the grey stone walls.

At that early hour the roads were dotted with groups of children on their way to school, dressed in the sensible Italian fashion: little girls in black pinafores, brightened with coloured braid, with their uncovered hair arranged in tiny plaits; little boys in dark blue linen overalls, and every child bearing his name emblazoned in crewels upon his breast, so that the school-teacher, seeing his class in line before him, can never mistake Fiore for Gigi, nor Santina for Maria.

At last our long lane opened out upon the tram-line which runs between Florence and Greve, the chieftown of the Chianti district, and we passed by the great Certosa in Val d’ Ema, begun in 1341 by Niccolo Acciauoli, who, first commoner thus honoured, was presented perhaps for his services to ‘Holy Church’ – with the Golden Rose by Innocent IV. As the road wound up a long and gradual slope there appeared, high upon its hilltop, the village of Montebuoni, the original eyrie of that fierce brood of the Buondelmonti, whose loves and hates worked such ruin in the city below…

Emerging upon the main road, we went on in cheerful company, for the way was thronged with as motley a crowd of pilgrims as ever made their way to Canterbury, all journeying, like ourselves, towards the fair. There were brake-loads of respectable burghers with their wives and daughters; parties of tourists, armed with cameras and eager for experiences and impressions; priests with the inevitable round silk hat and long cassock, revealing solid ankles grafted abruptly into buckled shoes; small carts jogging along with an old horse, being taken up for sale, ambling at the side; knots of country folk who had trudged over miles of hilly road from distant farms among the vines and olives; dignified and unhurried oxen, gay with red ribbons on head and tail – not only for decoration, but to ward off the evil eye; pedlars and hawkers hastening along with portable stalls under their arms; old men and women toiling feebly up with a bunch of air-balloons, a tray of card- board puppets or gaily-coloured sweets, to try their fortunes at the fair. Beggars abounded, as everywhere in Italy, and many, laid by the roadside, displayed horrible sores and deformities, clamouring loudly and piteously for alms.

Every fair has a picturesqueness of its own, and it was a gay scene upon which we looked down from the top of the last hill, before plunging into the crowd. All the roads leading to the piazza were packed with brakes, wagons of blue and scarlet, carriages and carts, standing ‘at ease’ with their shafts in the air; the moving crowds and bright colours suggested patches of flowers blown to and fro in the wind, and a noise and bustle like the humming of a swarm of bees arose from the busy square.

The fair was held in a great sloping piazza in front of the church, the lower level being reserved for booths of varied merchandise, the higher for cattle, while another square behind the church was devoted to cooking stalls, where the roasting of pork and rows of fowls over hot embers was going on in the open air, and tables were prepared for the accommodation of those who wished to eat with more ceremony than the adjoining hillside could afford. We had no sooner alighted than Bianca Maria announced her desire to buy a pig – a pig who should, as she expressed it in her imperfect English, ‘fat well’ for the next Carnival, and for whom she had already conditionally selected a name. Should he be stout he was to be ‘Cosimo’ – a fat, comfortable sounding word; but if he had a ‘lean and hungry look’ he was to be dubbed ‘Piero’ (though in this latter case I think ‘Cassius’ would have been a better choice). Accordingly, accompanied by the factor, who in such matters has understanding for his kinswoman, we turned our steps towards the place where loud squealing announced to those who were far off as well as to those who were nigh, that young porkers were for sale.

The men in charge obligingly hauled out the most promising by the hind-legs, and pulled their tails vigorously, which seems to the initiated to afford some mysterious proof of the pig’s worth, though to our inexperience the only result was a piercing wail. Salvatore was, however, somewhat chilling on the subject of this new inmate for the fattoria, and bargained with little enthusiasm; so as prices were high and we felt that without his hearty co-operation we could not hope to ‘fat’ a pig successfully, we momentarily relinquished the idea of leading home the prospective Cosimo or Piero, and turned our attention to the other beasts.

Hundreds of oxen were drawn up in line: stately white ones, more than a man’s height, with scarlet sashes around their ample waists, and among them one truly magnificent creature of a pleasant cinnamon tint, who, decked with red and gold tassels, was considered the champion of the fair. There were fascinating pairs of calves, matched to grow into noble yoke-fellows; viaremviani, with huge bodies set on short, inadequate-looking legs, which gave them the appearance of antediluvian beasts; tiny white calves with moist pink noses, nestling close to their mothers’ sides, and turning pathetic, startled eyes upon the loud-voiced men who gathered to discuss their points.

All the peasants for miles round were there, resplendent in their best clothes, cheery and garrulous, and exultant over the brightness of the weather and the excitement of the fair; arguing, chattering, handling animals, discussing prices, greeting each other noisily, parting with laughter and jokes. Among them was the sprightly Orlando, magnificent in a soft hat of a turquoise blue felt, a coloured waistcoat, pink shirt and ribbon necktie with a gay pattern of crimson roses and emerald leaves. A silver chain with some large porta-fortune was arranged gracefully across the waistcoat, and his face as he saluted us was wreathed in smiles. The Bachicche brothers, old friends of mine, were there also – that is to say, the two elder; for Paradiso, whose life is bound up in flocks and herds, was unable to leave his seventy sheep alone in the wilderness. But a shepherd’s is, according to Touchstone, ‘a good life . . . in respect that it is solitary . . . and in the fields’; so perhaps Paradiso has a ‘vocation’ for the pastoral career, and did not envy the more riotous pleasures of the fair.

The Bachicche were less elegant than Orlando – indeed they were somewhat clownish in appearance, with their shabby clothes, clumping shoes, and heavy sticks; but their shrewd faces and reverence for their betters mark them out anywhere as survivors of the good old school. Report speaks goldenly of their agricultural powers, and they are treasures to their padrone, as their podere yields more than any other on the estate. They had just, with the counsel of all their friends and acquaintance, been buying a calf to ‘fat’ for next season, having first, doubtless, cast an appraising eye upon every calf in the fair, and were gazing proudly at their new possession, while from under their arms protruded long bars of bread, the provision for their frugal meal. I wondered if, in honour of the day, they would be tempted to vary their usual dry morsel and indulge in conpanatico (something to eat with the bread), but remembering that, when the vines are loaded with grapes, they never taste even a berry, and would almost as soon cut off their hands as cut off a whole bunch, I think there was little chance that they would be tempted by sausage, pork, or cheese.

The piazza where the beasts were gathered was crowded with excited dealers and buyers, loud with the lowing of cattle and the babel of many tongues. Droves of unbroken colts, brought up from Sardinia or the Maremma, were grouped together, wild and scared, while the dealers from time to time, with a skilfully cast lasso, roped and drew one out, clearing a space to show off his paces a dangerous proceeding, as in the wild plunging of the startled beast his hoofs were apt to strike unpleasantly near the spectators’ heads. Bony old horses, with weary, dejected expressions, were tied in rows, looking, with their dull eyes and drooping knees, as if life had shown them little kindness in the past, and they had small hope that it would do so in the future. Crowds of donkeys huddled together, their heads resting upon each other’s backs – some sedate and elderly, others, sturdy little fellows, with plenty of work and spirit in them (not omitting the spirit of obstinacy!), while some were soft woolly babies, so small that the men took them up in their arms and laughingly offered them for sale.

There is an immense amount of character to be seen in the beasts at a fair, for every one supports its position with a different expression, some looking subdued and cowed, some sullenly patient, others full of vivacity, with hearts which evidently keep on the ‘windy side of care’. And there is often plenty of pathos, too, in the circumstances which bring them together, for some sad story of hard times, bad harvests, illness with its attendant expenses, death and the breaking up of the old home, may underlie the sale of the stately ox in his tinsel trappings, the poor old donkey, or the gaunt charger groomed up to look his pitiful best. There are some sad partings on the fair ground as the bony mare – old friend of the family – or the young calf, on whose growth such hopes were built, is led off by the new master, and empty stables at night, which make as great a break in the peasant circles as any ‘vacant chair’.

But, in spite of the underlying pathos, the superficial aspect of the fair was delightfully vivacious. Everywhere there was hilarious greetings, cheery laughter, good-humoured raillery, eager bargaining; and over this latter, where diverse interests were at stake and every point sharply contested, it was by no means rare that the opposing parties, beginning with the ‘Retort courteous’, ran swiftly through the intermediate stages to the ‘Lie direct’. On the whole, however, the crowd was good-humoured and cheery, for the Tuscan peasant is – at least in my opinion – one of the most agreeable men on the face of the earth; and if he waxes a little warm over his bargains, having a fine contempt for the man who cannot guard his own interests – well, it is all the more amusing for the lookers-on. There are few more diverting sights—to all not personally concerned – than the contratti, and every beast which is being bought and sold becomes a centre of interest, around which gather a group of spectators, who, though casual observers, having no vital interest in the matter, show a burning interest in the terms on which the bargain is made.

There is a definite ritual in these matters. When one man wishes to sell a calf and another desires to buy it, they together seek out an official known as a sensali, who directs the transaction and balances the price asked and offer made until he brings the contracting parties to terms. Then, taking a hand of each, he puts them together, and when they shake with one another warmly the bargain is made and the sensali gets a fee. Naturally a vast amount of arguing and withdrawing and conceding goes on before this happy consummation is arrived at, and many amusing scenes take place. The sensali who was the centre of one group was a little old man with a florid, jovial face, but a certain cunning in his twinkling eyes, which were shaded by a hat of sage green felt. This acute person had got the hands of his clients firmly together, but the sacramental shaking had not yet begun, and at the critical moment which should ratify the bargain, the seller, who had grown extremely restive, tried to withdraw, loudly protesting, in spite of the sensali‘s honied words that he would lose a hundred francs on the bargain, ‘E questo, per Bacco, non mi conviene!’ In fact, he finally broke loose altogether, whereupon the sensali, seeing hopes of his fee vanishing, flung his arms around the other’s neck and began whispering in his ear, probably counselling some concession, while the ring of onlookers, although quite unconcerned, were full of eager partisanship for the one or disparagement of the other, according to the prompting of their sympathies. Here an approving ejaculation, there a murmur of dissent, an indignant diamine! or a petulant che, die! testified to the lively interest taken; and although it meant nothing to their own pockets, they were none the less alive to the gravity of the matter and anxious that business should be done.

How the matter ended I do not know, but probably either buyer or seller – perhaps both – remained dissatisfied and complaining of sharp practice; or perhaps negotiations were broken off altogether, and the sensali, for all his astuteness, failed to pocket his fee.

I should like to have seen the Bachicche bargaining for their vitellino. Assuredly they are too shrewd to be imposed upon, and I should imagine from the complacent expression of their faces that they had managed the affair well. Leaving the sensali still folded in a brotherly embrace, we made our way through the crowd, avoiding the hoofs of the mules – most vicious of beasts – dodging under the noses of oxen; rounding baskets of outraged turkeys, gobbling in impotent fury; hurrying past the aggrieved hens, who made their presence known by petulant clucking; and the garrulous ducks, pro- claiming their wrongs from the depths of hampers, to the lower piazza, where every kind of merchandise was exposed for sale on hand-barrows and stalls.

There was a large supply of the pottery, for which the Impruneta is famous, glazed and unglazed, in every size and shape, from small pipkins and scaldini to immense vases for lemon and orange trees, and oil jars which seemed incomplete without the bobbing head of one of the Forty Thieves. There were cheap materials of every kind, and of the most vivacious patterns and tints to tempt the peasant girls – brilliant handkerchiefs; fasce or swaddling bands for babies, with ‘Idolo mio’, ‘Delizia’, and other suitable inscriptions interwoven; felt hats, pocket-knives; handmade lace, the work of the country women; glittering imitation jewellery and strings of coral, suitable for rustic swains to offer to their betrothed, since ‘doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat’; zoccoli and great boots of Vacchetta, or undressed calf-skin; sweetmeats and dancingmen to take home to the bimbi; piles of brigidini (a thin aniseed biscuit stamped between two hot irons, which is a speciality of Tuscan fairs); piemen, with wares ‘as dry as the remaining biscuit after a voyage’, lying in wait for Simple Simons, and furnaces where a roaring trade was being done in bruciati, or roasted chestnuts. Merry-go-rounds with gallantly prancing steeds whirled on their giddy way, to a monotonously cheerful tune; a ‘valiant piece of dust’, who described himself as the ‘strong man’, performed feats with iron bars and balls in the midst of a gaping crowd; a fortuneteller, a stout, elderly woman with large gold earrings, sat on a raised chair, displaying under her short woollen shirt a pair of ample feet, while to the ring of spectators – chiefly young girls – gathered around her, she disclosed the secrets of the future with a pack of dirty cards. She was perhaps one of the streghe, or wise women, in whom the country folk still believe, but a certain sameness characterised the fortunes of these damsels; difficulties which would be overcome, calumnies which would be refuted, and finally, as a reward of triumphant virtue, a husband and eight or ten children – ‘Bella cosa, davvero!’

It is curious how at a fair one ardently desires things which one would never dream of coveting at other times, and feels a passionate curiosity about sights on which, as a rule, one would not bestow a passing glance. Bianca Maria’s heart was set upon a rosecoloured man of jointed cardboard, with an entirely insufficient purple costume, who danced on strings, and cost a halfpenny, and she was with difficulty led away from the stall which boasted his presence, together with a crowd of his brethren; while for two-pence I bought a massive clasp-knife with carved wooden handle, which has been one of my treasures ever since. We made many purchases, with the faithful Salvatore to bargain, since, though the stallholders greeted us with extravagant politeness, they did not scruple to ask us two or three times the just price of every article which we wished to buy. We approached a small man of mature age, busy behind a pile of brigidini, and gave an order for a kilo, to which Salvatore, who knows human nature, added the stern injunction, ‘And see that you give the Signorine fair weight!’ This venerable person, who would have been better employed in thinking of his latter end than in cheating his customers, appealed to all the saints to bear witness to his honesty, praying that he might lose his remaining eye before the feast of Ogni Santi if his dealings were not as clear as the noonday light; but I hope for his sake that his prayer was unheeded, as he cunningly contrived to tilt a good proportion of the biscuits back into his own stock as he transferred them from the scales to the clean handkerchief which Salvatore unfolded to receive them, and appeared wounded in his tenderest feelings when we called attention to the fact.

Close by this unprincipled old gentleman was a shoemaker – a little man, with one tuft of hair standing bolt upright on his bald head – brooding over his wares, fussily arranging and rearranging them, as if even to touch them were a pleasure; and as I, who can never resist boots, felt a sudden desire born in me for a pair of hobnailed ones of untanned leather such as the peasants wear, we entered into conversation with the owner on the respective merits of two equally attractive pairs. ‘They look to me the same’, I declared, with a boot in either hand. ‘The difference is indeed small, most illustrious’, rejoined the courteous disciple of St. Crispin. ‘These’ (pointing to one pair) ‘are of a calf who has drunk only milk, while these’ (with an emphatic tap upon the others) ‘have also eaten grass. Signorina, should recommend those which have eaten grass!’ So, impressed by this finely drawn distinction the bargain was made, and I go out to tramp the country roads and hunt evasive mushrooms, shod with the skin of the herb-eating calf.

Not far off was a lottery, the object set up being that dream of the contadino, a sveglia, or alarm-clock. To possess a sveglia is indeed to be blessed above other men, and this was an especially desirable one, set in a gilded horseshoe and mounted upon a stand of emerald-green plush. One simple soul, who had evidently decided to stake his best hopes on it, was spending his coppers recklessly in tickets for the coveted object, which, sad to relate, fell to another’s lot, and it was pitiful to see how his face fell as he turned away, while the fortunate winner was surrounded by an eager crowd of friends, anxious to examine the face, the stand, the works of the wonderful alarum, and if possible to hear it strike.

As one watches the gay moving throng, the booths, the beasts, the varied merchandise in the great piazza, it is interesting to remember how many times the crowd must have gathered in this same old square, under the shadow of the ancient church, surrounded by the same hills if not the same buildings, as to-day. How like it must have been year by year for centuries 1 It is true that those keen-faced old Florentines who used to haunt it are long since numbered with the great majority. They are gone, the sturdy burghers, the gay young cavaliers with their ‘swashing and martial outside’; the knights, courtiers, pages, men-at-arms; the merchants with woollen stuffs from the Calimara, and silk from Por Santa Maria; the astute dealers on the lookout for skins to carry back to the pelliceria; the artists, great ladies, stout country wenches, friars, apothecaries, jugglers, minstrels, charlatans; gone, the quaint costumes – the dignified lucco, the flowing zimarra and silver garland, the parti-coloured hose. But the changes are only superficial, the vital part of the old fair remains. There are still herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, still keen faces intent on a good investment, still courting and quarrelling, buying and selling, laughter and pranks. One may still, though the dress be modern, find rogues and rustics, beggars and burghers; for though centuries pass, men’s interests and men’s hearts change vitally little, if superficially much; and long may the heart of the Italian peasant continue unchanged if it prompt him to do his business so picturesquely, to take his pleasure so joyously, as in the gay circle of a Tuscan fair!

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A drive in the country 09/02/2011

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c. 1910

We did not at once desert the precincts of Santa Maria Novella, as we joined a party of friends at the delightful Hotel Minerva, and had our colazione at a table whence we got an enchanting glimpse of Giotto’s tower, and could watch the coming and going in the Piazza below us. With the help of these same kind friends we had concocted a very pleasant plan for the afternoon and evening, as they had ordered their car to take us to the Certosa di Val d’Ema and on to the Impruneta, whence we were to return to their delightful villino not far from Poggio Imperiale.

Motor cars in old Italian towns are atrociously out of place, that is obvious to any one with an aesthetic conscience; but they are also extremely useful, and a great luxury to tired folk who ramble much on foot amid the stony streets of those same cities. We started on our expedition, only regretting the thoughtless speed of the car, which whirled us through so much we ought to have looked at and identified, even on the short way to Porta Romana.

As I remarked this, L. rejoined that for his part he did not think it mattered, as our heads were reeling with all we had seen, tried to see, or had left unseen during our morning at Santa Maria Novella. We had clearly earned the right to look at nothing, and to waste our time, if we chose. The car rushed disrespectfully round by the Porta Romana and stopped first by the Cantagalli pottery works, which we had determined to visit while we had the chance. The Conscientious Objector said we had seen most of the pottery already in England, and that any we bought would assuredly arrive home in fragments, all of which was uncomfortably true. Still, certain packages did accompany us on our journey, as we fled into a charming country road, among the budding vineyards and the springing corn, and came before long to the village of Galluzzo, and thence to the bridge over the brook Ema, where Cacciaguida would fain have had Buondelmorite die ere Florence was cleft in twain by internecine strife.

Vasari on Fra Angelico 03/01/2011

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c. 1550

Fra Giovanni Angelico da Fiesole, whose secular name was Guido, deserves to be held in most honourable remembrance, both as an excellent painter and illuminator, and also as a perfect monk. He might have lived comfortably in the world, earning whatever he wished by his art, in which he excelled when still young, but being by nature good and serious, for his satisfaction and quiet, and also principally to save his soul, he entered the order of the Preaching Friars. There are in the convent of San Marco in Florence some choir books illuminated by his hand, which are so beautiful that nothing could be better, and some others like them, which he left at San Domenico of Fiesole, painted with incredible patience. It is true that in these he was aided by an elder brother, who was also an illuminator and skilled in painting. One of the first of this good father’s paintings was in the Certosa of Florence, our Lady with the Child in her arms and angels at her feet singing and playing. He also painted in fresco in Santa Maria Novella.

He was so beloved by Cosimo de’ Medici that when the church and convent of St Marco were built, he caused him to paint in it all the Passion of Jesus Christ, with many of the Saints. They say that for the figure of St. Cosimo Fra Giovanni drew from life his friend the sculptor, Nanni d’Antonio di Banco. Below he painted St. Domenic at the foot of a tree, and in medallions among the branches all the popes, cardinals, bishops, saints, and doctors who had belonged to the order of the Preaching Friars. In these the friars aided him by sending to different places and obtaining portraits from life. He also painted a picture for the high altar of San Domenico of Fiesole, but this has been retouched by other masters and injured; but other pictures there by him have been better preserved, and there are a number of little figures in celestial glory, which are so beautiful that they seem really in Paradise, and no one who sees them can ever weary of looking at them.

But beyond all that Fra Giovanni ever did is a painting in the same church of the Coronation of the Virgin in the midst of a choir of angels and an infinite number of saints, which it gives one a wonderful pleasure to look at, for it seems as if blessed spirits could look no otherwise in heaven, at least if they had bodies, and they are all so lifelike and so sweet; and the whole colouring also of the work seems to be from the hand of a saint or an angel, so that it was with good reason that he was always called Fra Giovanni Angelico.

By so many works the name of Fra Giovanni became famous in all Italy, and Pope Nicholas V sent for him, and made him paint the chapel of the palace where the Pope hears mass, and also illuminate some books, which are most beautiful. And because Fra Giovanni seemed to the Pope, as he was indeed, a man of most holy life, quiet and modest, when the archbishopric of Florence fell vacant he adjudged him worthy of the rank; but the friar, hearing of it, prayed his Holiness to give it to another, because he did not feel himself apt at governing men, and said that his order had another friar, loving to the poor, learned, skilled in government, and God-fearing, whom the dignity would much better become than it would him. The Pope hearing this, and perceiving that what he said was true, granted him the favour, and so Fra Antonino, of the order of Preaching Friars, was made Archbishop of Florence, a man of such holiness that he was canonised by Adrian VI. in our days. And this great goodness of Fra Giovanni was in truth a rare thing, thus to give up a dignity and honour offered him to one whom in sincerity of heart he judged more worthy of it than himself. And would to God that all religious men would spend their time as this truly angelical father did, in the service of God and to the benefit of the world and their neighbours.

Fra Giovanni was a simple man and most holy in his habits, and one day when Pope Nicholas V desired him to dine with him, he had scruples of conscience about eating meat without his prior’s leave, not considering the Pope’s authority.

He would not follow the ways of the world, but lived purely and holily, and was a great friend of the poor. He painted constantly, and would never represent anything but the saints. He might have been rich, but did not care about it, saying that true riches are nothing else than being content with little. He might have governed many, and would not, saying it was less troublesome to obey, and one was less liable to err in obeying. It was in his power to hold dignities among the friars and elsewhere, but he did not esteem them, affirming that he sought no other dignity than to escape hell and attain to Paradise. He was most kind and sober, keeping himself free from all worldly ties, often saying that he who practised art had need of quiet and to be able to live without cares, and that he who represents the things of Christ should always live with Christ. He was never seen in anger by the friars, which is a great thing, and seems to me almost impossible to believe; and he had a way of admonishing his friends with smiles. To those who sought his works he would answer, that they must content the prior, and then he would not fail. To sum up, this father, who can never be enough praised, was in all his works and words most humble and modest, and in his paintings facile and devout; and the saints whom he painted have more the air and likeness of saints than those of any one else. It was his habit never to retouch or alter any of his paintings, but to leave them as they came the first time, believing, as he said, that such was the will of God. Some say he would never take up his pencil until he had first made supplication, and he never made a crucifix but he was bathed in tears.