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A NEWLY DISCOVERED ‘LIBRO DI RICORDI’ OF ALESSO
BALDOVINETTI
JWRITTEN BY HERBERT P. HORNE,
PART I

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wills between the years 1399 and 1526 under which the hospital in anyway benefited; and on fol. 16 recto is the following entry: ‘Alexo di Baldovinecto Baldovinetti has this day, the 23rd of March, 1499, made a donation to our hospital of all his goods, personal and real, after his death, with obligation that the hospital support Mea, his servant, so long as she live : [the deed was] engrossed by Ser Piero di Leonardo daVinci, notary of Florence, on the day aforesaid. ‘Alexo died on the last day of August, 14.99 ; and was buried in his tomb in San Lorenzo; and the hospital remained the heirs of his goods. May God pardon him his sins ! ’ ’ {I Milanese, who quotes this ‘ ricordo ’ textually, though not without some slight errors, in his notes to Vasari, states that the volume in which it occurs is preserved in the Archivio di Stato at Florence ; whereas the archives of the hospital are now in the ‘Archivio ’ of Santa Maria N uova, San Paolo having been united to the latter hospital by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, c. 1783.2 {I At first sight, this ‘ ricordo ’ would not seem to bear out the story which Vasari tells of Alesso and his dealings with the authorities of San Paolo. It states only that Alesso made a donation to the hospital of all his worldly goods after his death, upon the condition that his faithful servant, Mea, was to be lodged, clad, and fed, during her life; whereas Vasari, on the contrary, states that the painter himself became an inmate of San Paolo. ‘Alesso,’ he says, ‘lived eighty

1 Appendix, Doe. I. 2 Vasari, ed. Sansoni, Vol. II, p. 597, note 3.

years; and when he began to grow old, dcsirous of being able to attend to the studies of his profession with a quiet mind, he, as many men often do, entered the Hospital of San Paolo: and in order, perhaps, that he might be received the more willingly, and be better treated (though it might, indeed, have happened by chance), he caused a great chest to be brought into his rooms, in the hospital; acting as ifa goodly sum ofmoney were therein : whereupon the master and the other ministrants of the hospital, believing that this was so, bestowed on him the greatest kindness in the world; since they knew that he had made a donation to the hospital, of whatever was found in his possession at his death. But when Alesso died, only drawings, cartoons, and a little book which set forth how to make the tesserae for mosaic, together with the stucco and the method of working them, were found therein.’ ‘ q The apparent discre ancy between the ‘ricordo’ in the books 0 San Paolo and Vasari’s account led me to search, and not without success, for the deed by which Alesso’s property passed to the hospital. I found that both the name of the notary and the date of the execution of the instrument were incorrectly given in the ‘ricordo’ cited above. The instrument was engrossed by Ser Piero di Antonio di Ser Piero da Vinci, the father of Leonardo da Vinci, and executed on March 16, 1497-8. By this deed Alesso, ex titqu at caura donatiom'r, ‘irrevocably gave and bequeathed during his life-time, to the Hospital of the Pinzocheri of the third order of St. Francis, otherwise called the Hospital of San Pagholo, and to the poor of Christ living in the said hospital for the time being,’ etc., ‘all his goods, real and personal, present and future, wherever situate or existent,’ etc., reserving to himself

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‘the use and usufruct of the said goods,’ etc., ‘for the term of his natural life.’ The ‘ rogiti ’ of Ser Piero da Vinci for the year 1498 have not been preserved among the ‘ protocols ’ of that notary now in the Archivio di Stato at Florence; and so it is no longer possible to say under what conditions, if any, the donation was made : but it is to be presumed upon the evidence of the ‘ ricordo ’ cited above, that it entailed the obligation on the part of the hospital, to maintain Mea, his servant, during her life. {I On October 17, 1498, Alesso executed what was technically known as a ‘ renuntiatio,’ which was likewise engrossed by Ser Piero da Vinci. This second instrument, which begins by reciting the former deed of donation in the terms quoted above, sets forth how, on that day, Alesso, ‘by reason of lawful and reasonable causes of motion influencing, as they assert, his mind, and by his mere, free, and proper will,’ etc., ‘ renounced the said use and usufruct, expressly reserved to himself in the aforesaid donation, and freely remitted and released the said use and usufruct to the said hospital, and to the poor of Christ dwelling in the said hospital,’ etc. The text of this document, which is preserved in the Archivio di Stato at Florence, is printed at length at the end of this volume.I It allows us to draw but one conclusion; namely, that when the painter executed the deed of donation on March 16, 1497-8, he had been left without wife or children; and that he anticipated but two contingencies against which he would provide after his death—the health of his soul and the maintenance of his faithful servant, Mea. {I Alesso had married late in life. It appears from the ‘Portata al Catasto,’ returned by him in 1470, that he was still unmarried at that time, and that he was possessed of no real property, but rented a house in the ‘ popolo’ of San Lorenzo, in Florence, described in his later ‘ Denunzie,’ as being in the Via dell’Ariento, at the Canto

de’ Gori.‘ In another ‘Denunzia’ returned in 14.80, Alesso thus describes his family :— ‘ Alesso Baldovinetti, aforesaid, aged 60, painter ; Monna Daria, his wife, aged 4.5; Mea, his maid-servant, aged 13.’ As a matter of fact, Alesso was 6 3 years of age. having been born on October 14, 14.27, Milanesi, by the way, in his notes to Vasari, gives the name of his, Alesso’s wife, as Diana, in error for Daria.2 According to the same ‘Denunzia,’ the painter was at that time possessed of a parcel of land of twelve staiora, situate in the ‘ popolo’ of Santa Maria a Quinto, and another parcel of seven staiora, in the same ‘ popolo,’ the latter having been bought in 14.79,with a part ofhis wife’s dowry. It is, therefore, probable that he had not long been married at that time.3 It appears from a yet later ‘ Denunzia ’ on which the ‘Decima’ of 1498 was assessed, though the return itself was probably drawn up in 149 5, that he possessed, in addition to the two parcels of land in the ‘ popolo ’ of Santa Maria a Quinto, a third parcel of over eleven staiora, in the adjoining ‘ popolo’ of San Martino a Sesto, on the road to Prato. He was still living at that time in the same house at the Canto de’ Gori ; and he also enjoyed the rents of two shops, with dwellinghouses above, which had been made over to him for the term of his natural life, by the Consuls of the Arte dei Mercanti, on February 26, 14.8 3-4, in payment of his ‘ magistero e esercitio et trafficho,’ in having restored the mosaics of the Baptistery of San Giovanni.4 “The Spedale di San Paolo, of which the beautiful loggia, with its ornaments by Andrea della Robbia, still remains on the Piazza of Santa Maria Novella, was originally a hospital for the care of the sick; and as such it is mentioned in a document of 1208.5 From the time that St. Francis himself is said to have lodged at San Paolo, the hospital appears

to have been administered by Franciscans,

' Appendix, Doe. II.

‘ Appendix, Doc. IV.

’ Vasari, ed. Sansoni, Vol. II. p. 601.

3 Appendix, Doe. V.

‘ Appendix, Doc. VI.

‘ G. Richa, Chino Fior. Vol. III, p. :22.

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Th 0 Burlington Magazine, N umber IV

called in the records ‘ Fratres tertii Ordinis de Penitentia S. Pauli.’ During the fourteenth century, the house underwent certain reforms; and in 1 398 it was decreed by the Signoria, ‘ that the place was to be no longer a hospital, but a house of Frati Pinzocheri of the third order.’ ‘ Notwithstanding, the members of the community continued to devote themselves to the care of the sick; and a papal brief or 1452 directs that the revenues of the house were to be set apart for the infirm.2 At an early period in the history of San Paolo, mention occurs of Pinzochere, that is to say, women attached to the community, no doubt for the service of the hospital; but unlike the men of the house, who are invariably called Frati Pinzocheri, they were not dignified by the title of ‘ Monache ’ : from this Stefano Rosselli infers that they originally had no share in its government.3 Owing, however, to some cause which is not very clear, the Frati Pinzocheri appear to have died out towards the latter part of the fifteenth century, leaving the women in possession of the hospital. From evidence that Rosselli and Richa adduce, it seems that in 1497 San Paolo was controlled and administered entirely by Pinzochere; and in the document of 14.99, cited below, it is called ‘10 spedale di pizichora del terzo ordjne dj san franchesco.’ 4 From this we must conclude that, when Alesso renounced the use and enjoyment of his property on October 17,1498, he entered the hospital of San Paolo, not as a member of the community, but as a sick man who sought nothing more on earth than to be tended during the brief span of life that was left to him. He died ten months later, on August 29, 1499, and was buried in his own tomb in San Lorenzo! The hospital of San Paolo probably inherited, along with Alesso’s other property, all his cartoons and drawings, as Vasari asserts : they, certainly, came into the possession of

his books and papers, as we know. The little treatise on the art of Mosaic has long been lost ; but Milanesi has stated in a well-known passage in his Vasari, that the autograph manuscript of certain ‘Ricordi’ of Alesso Baldovinetti still existed in his time, in the Archivio of Santa Maria Nuova, among the books of the hospital of San Paolo. He adds that these ‘ Ricardi were published at Lucca in 1868, by Dr. Giovanni Pierotti, per le nozze Bangi e Rana/li.’ ‘ Few of those innumerable, little pamphlets with which Italians, learned and unlearned, delight to celebrate the marriages of their patrons, friends, or relatives, are more difficult to find than the little brochure of ten leaves, in a green paper wrapper, to which Milanesi alludes. The title page runs thus: ‘Ricordi di Alesso Baldovinetti, pittore fiorentino del secolo xv. Lucca. Tipografia Landi. 1868.’ Unfortunately only a portion of Baldovinetti's manuscript is given in this pamphlet. The extracts, which fill less than a half of its twenty pages, are partly given in the text, and partly in an abstract, of the original. The rest of the pamphlet is filled with the introductory preface and notes of Dr. Picrotti. {IIt is now some years ago since I first made an attempt to find the original manuscript of these ‘Ricordi,’ in the Archivio of Santa Maria Nuova, only to discover that I was not the first student of Florentine painting to search in vain for the volume. Whether it had been borrowed by Pierotti, or merely mislaid, or in what way it had disappeared, no one could tell me. Not long after this attempt, however, I chanced upon what proved to be a clue to its history. While searching among the ‘ Carte Milanesi,’ the voluminous manuscript collections which the famous commentator of Vasari left to the Communal Library of Siena, I came across a series of extracts from the ‘Ricordi’ 0f Baldovinetti, in the handwriting of Milanesi, with the title: ‘Estratto del libro dei Ricordi di Alesso Baldovinetti autografo

‘ l. c., p. 124.

’ l. c., . 125.

' Cod.Magliabechiano: XXVI,23; fol. 810 "do to 811 redo.

‘ Appendix, Doc. VIII. ‘ Appendix. Doc. III.

' Vasari, ed. Sansoni, Vol. II, p. 595, note.

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PAINTED-GLASS \\'IND()\V DECORATED \VlTH FIGURES OF GOD THE FATHER AND ST. ANDREW, FROM CARTOONS BY ALESSO BALCOVINETTI;

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