Biographical Catalogue of the Principal Italian Painters


















I venture to present to the public this little Biographical Catalogue of the principal Italian painters, in the hope that it will be found useful as a companion to the picture galleries of Italy.

My aim has been merely to give a short sketch, compiled from various authors, of the life and works of each artist, confining myself to the leading characteristics which distinguish them, and to the enumeration of their principal works.

To Mr. Womum, who has kindly undertaken the task of editing the work, I am under great obligations. His extensive knowledge on subjects connected with art, aided by the possession of a large collection of the more recent works in art literature, has enabled him not only to correct errors, but to supply much new and valuable information.

A Tabular view of the Schools of Italian Painting will be found attached to the work, containing the names of those painters who have most influenced or contributed to the progress or vicissitudes of art. This Table has been constructed with care with reference to the different Schools. I trust that it will not only serve as an assistance to the memory, but that the synoptical view it presents will enable the reader to trace the growth and decline of art at particular periods, and be suggestive of many interesting deductions.

Should the information which the book contains induce any one to seek from deeper sources further knowledge on this engrossing and elevating subject, I shall feel that my reward greatly exceeds my deserts. And should it meet with the approval of the public, I shall hope to proceed with a Catalogue of the artists of other countries.



"Du hast bisher die schonen Bilder angestaunt, als waren es wunderwerke, vom himmel auf die erde heruntergefellen. Aber bedenke, dass dies alles werk von Menschenhanden ist—was meynst du nun? Solltestdu nicht lust empfinden, von den Mannem, welche sich in der Mahlerey hervorgethan haben, etwas mehreres zu erfahren?"

Such were the impressive words of the young enthusiastic Wachenroder sixty years ago, when men really cared little either about painters or their works. This is a matter in which, since then, we have made much progress, and by some the era of the new epoch of art criticism is identified with the appearance of Wachenroder's Heart Effusions of an Art-loving Monk, which, though now little more than a curiosity, was then a repertory of new and charming reflections. Criticism till then, probably, was almost exclusively material but we have since run into the other extreme.

In both cases the authors of the works which are the prime cause of the delights and the intellectual exercises so engrossing to some, have been altogether neglected. We have been too habitually content to admire pictures without inquiring into the characters or fortunes of the devoted men who have produced them. While some works are faithful objective pictures of men and manners, others are simply subjective exponents of character; and others, without being exactly either, are often nevertheless good indices to both the moral and intellectual tendencies of an age.

Still it is impossible to feel much about pictures, and even more difficult to comprehend the nature of art epochs, without some personal knowledge of their artists. It is unquestionable that a knowledge of the painter will frequently cause an interest in a work that would be otherwise overlooked or forgotten; and what is true of individual works is true also of collections. Travellers saunter through picture galleries until they are tired of the very name of art, and eventually glory in neither knowing nor caring anything about it. The real cause of this nonchalance is ignorance, and the cause of the ignorance is the difficulty of acquiring the right information exactly when it is wanted. If catalogues of picture galleries were properly made, or something much more to the purpose than mere lists of names and titles of pictures, such information would certainly be much more available than it is at present; but even if catalogues were as they should be, our difficulties would be but half obviated, as there would still be the necessity of purchasing and carrying many books, in itself an inconvenience sufficiently great to deter all but the most energetic from troubling themselves about the matter at all. A general guide that could be made available on all occasions is what is really required.

We take it for granted, then, that people are generally indifferent about pictures and painters, and really ignorant of the vast stores of Italy in particular, illustrating this interesting subject, even after they have seen them, because they have not had any easy ready means of instructing themselves in the matter, when the opportunity has offered. All intelligent travellers must have felt this; vast series of frescoes, causing epochs in art, consummate oil pictures; the crowning efforts of Italian civilisation and ingenuity are crowded together in one confused chaos in their minds, because, when they saw them they could not identify the true positions of their authors, and thus grasp an adequate impression to be treasured in the memory. People are generally interested in what they understand, and though every subject represented may carry its own interest with it, the interest of a subject is quite distinct from the interest we take in a work of art. The canvases and walls of Italy illustrate almost every important matter in the history of hiunan civilisation, but it is not this class of interest that this little hand-book pretends to enhance. Independent of the subject, without a knowledge of the character and position of a master, a pictm-e is at most a pleasing distribution of masses of light and shade, and colour. To add, then, to this enjoyment, the pleasure of enjoying a painting also as a work of art, is opening up a new province of delight to the visitor to a picture gallery, and this is the interest that this little hand-book does lay pretensions to develope. The art itself has its history and its difficulties, and every master has his individual services to be recognised, as well as his position ; and it is his position which qualifies his merits, and defines his rank among painters.

Without a moderate preparation of this kind no picture gallery can be appreciated or thoroughly enjoyed, and no opportunity fairly used; the more frequent the visits to galleries, the more is the necessity felt for some such general guide, applicable in a measure to all occasions. Ordinary guide-books do not in any way meet this necessity, nor do the catalogues of collections themselves, even in their own individual cases, except in two or three rare instances; Dictionaries of Painters are meagre, cumbrous, and inaccurate; and even a good history is as ill adapted for incidental reference, as for the pocket. It was under these impressions that Miss Farquhar took the meritorious resolution of attempting to supply in some degree this admitted desideratum, and the present little work is the result; the object has been to produce a pocket hand-book which should contain much essential information in a very small compass. The task has not been an easy one, though for the present its sphere has been limited to Italy; which is in itself, however, more important in such a matter than all the other countries of Europe combined.

The object of compression being paramount, the constant endeavour, as a general rule, has been to try how little, compatible with utility, could be said about each painter, and in some cases the notices may appear extremely bare; but, of course, even in this respect due deference has been paid to the respective importance of the several painters; and where compression into a small space was so essential, the omission altogether of a vast number of names became a necessity. The artists inserted constitute about one-fourth only of those recorded in Italian art literature, but it is hoped that the work will be found to contain notices of all the principal men of the Schools whose works are likely to be of any interest, either on account of their absolute merits or their period; yet that there are some improper omissions in a work of this extent cannot fail to be the case. The articles consist in general of the essential biographical facts, when known, and a concise character of the painter's style; with a notice of the most accessible of his principal works: this last has been a very laborious portion of the task, and, as pictures are so constantly changing owners, will always be the most difficult to secure accuracy in. In this portion of the book several thousand works are noticed, and their dates frequently affixed ; though even such a number may be comparatively small, few books notice so many, and those are not portable: indeed the list in the precise form here presented is new.

It will probably be remarked that the Berlin Gallery is quoted, in the cases of rare masters, more often, perhaps, than any other. Though this Gallery had considerable advantages in its formation, and certainly contains several examples of uncommon masters, the attribution frequently rests solely on the opinion of Dr. Waagen, the Director of the Gallery; and it is, therefore, only so far conditionally referred to.

With regard to the Table of Schools, its use will be obvious, but some explanation of its plan is necessary. It contains the names of upwards of five hundred painters, who are assumed to be the principal masters of Italian painting. Here, of course, the principle of exclusion has been more stringently applied than in the Biographical Catalogue. A great multiplicity of names would only encumber the lists, and render the Table obscure and comparatively useless. As accurate information is given in the Catalogue, which, indeed, is the explanation of the Table, it has not been repeated here; and it is desired rather that the reader should refer to the Catalogue for the fuller information there given, than be satisfied with the mere dates of birth and death, or such other bare essentials as might have been compressed into the Table. Thus, also, the connection of master and scholar is omitted in the Table. This, indeed, was found to be necessary, to give a practical character to the Table at all : if all the scholars were given it would have required several sheets; the distinction of School would have been lost; and the number of notices of obscure names it would have been necessary to add to the Catalogue, would have certainly added immensely to the labour of its production, considerably to its bulk, but very little indeed to its interest or utility. As it is, a great amount of labour has been spent upon names eventually excluded from the Catalogue.

A work of this kind—a general table, in ten large sheets, by Major Von Innstaedten—has been recently published at Vienna—Graphische Darstellung der Oeschichte der Malerei von Giunta Pisano und Guido da Siena his auf Louis Jacques David, und Jacob Asmund Carstens; it is, however, too comprehensive to be serviceable, except in cases of special reference. The attached Table, on the contrary, is designed to give a synchronous view of the Schools at once, in order to establish a distinct notion of the time, locality and relative position of the painter, as the best introduction to the understanding of his character and importance in the history of art. The names of capiscuole, or great masters, are printed in large capitals, those of secondary importance in smaller, and ordinary names in the ordinary type, as a mere mechanical aid to direct the attention to the leading masters of the Schools. The pupilage, or scholarship, is a matter of little real importance, and this information is given in the Catalogue ; no great painter has ever been bound by the practice of his master; most have widely deviated from it; the majority of painters have had more than one master; and scholars have as often prosecuted their lahours in foreign cities as in those in which they were originally educated. For this reason, and in order to make the Table as simple as possible, it presents only selections of the most important artists who, during the six centuries comprised, were the chief representatives of painting of the several Schools inserted. The principle of the Table is chronological succession; and the year of death, rather than that of birth, has been adopted, because the majority of men scarcely bring any influence on their fellows into operation before their thirtieth year at soonest, and in many cases still later. As a painter, Michelangelo exerted no influence on his contemporaries till nearly forty years of age, and his was not a late case; Raphael is one of the few exceptions, and he died at an age when many distinguished men have been still obscure. On the whole, therefore, in a Table of this kind, placing the names against the years of birth would give a false impression of nearly half a centruy. The Table, therefore, shows not only the contemporaries of the several masters, but also the real period of their operation. It is divided into half centuries; those who died early in the half century being placed in the upper part of the division, and so on, each name in proportion, without, however, such precision as to imply that every painter died before those whose names are lower in the list; for some have died in the same year, the dates of others are uncertain, and where a distinguished master has died about the same period as some scholar, or only shortly afterwards, the name of the master precedes that of the scholar; but in all cases the name is placed in the half century in which the painter died. The separation into Schools has been kept as restricted as possible. The painters of Verona and Brescia are comprised under the head of Venice; and those of Mantua and Cremona, with those of Parma and Milan, under the general head of Lombard School. Padua, as displaying a more individual character, recalling the antique bas-reliefs, through the peculiar influence of Squarcione and Andrea Mantegna has its separate classification. In the Ferrarese, Genoese, and Neapolitan Schools, the distinctions are as much local as characteristic. The Umbrian and Sienese are distinct in their early periods, but in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the local developments gradually lose their individual character, though the great Schools preserve their broad distinctions throughout; that of Rome, after Raphael, was the most general and equal in its qualities, surpassing all the Schools in composition and character. In the others, some one quality greatly prevails; as, the study of form among the Florentines ; colour, with