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A Lost Fresco of Niccolo dell' Abbate at Bologna in Honour of Julius III

Author(s): Sylvie Béguin


Source: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 18, No. 1/2 (Jan. - Jun.,
1955), pp. 114-122
Published by: The Warburg Institute
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/750290
Accessed: 03-01-2019 06:21 UTC

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A LOST FRESCO OF NICCOLO DELL' ABBATE AT
BOLOGNA IN HONOUR OF JULIUS IIIx
By Sylvie B6guin

N iccolo dell'
extremely Abbate,
active who
in that city. came
He not only to Bologna
decorated palacesin 1547,
there, but must have been
also certainly carried out work commissioned for various special occasions.2
One of these continued to arouse the greatest admiration long after the
artist's death; most of Niccolo's early biographers, acting on the evidence of
seventeenth-century references and old guides to Bologna, have included it in
the catalogue of his works.3
Oretti, in the manuscript preserved in the Archiginnasio of Bologna,4
speaks of the "bel Dipinto con varie figure" which Niccolo had painted in the
Via San Mammolo (now the Via d'Azeglio).5 Both Oretti and Alidosi (the
latter subsequently followed by Zanotti)6 describe the fresco in detail. It was
commissioned by the humanist Aloro, on the occasion of the public rejoicing
in Bologna to celebrate the election to the Pontificate of Giovanni Maria del
Monte, former legate of the town. This fresco, already almost a ruin when
Zanotti was writing,7 represented:
1 My thanks are due to all those who have 255; Scannelli, Il microcosmo della pittura,
helped me with their suggestions and advice Cesena, 1657, II, p. 324; Vedriani, Raccolta
in the elaboration of this little note, and dei pittori scultori ed architetti modenesi, Modena,
especially in London to the Warburg Insti- 1662, p. 66; Masini, Bologna perlustrata,
tute, who so generously placed the library Bologna, I666, p. 150; Malvasia, Felsina
and photographic collection at my disposal, Pittrice, 1678, p. I60; Le Pitture di Bologna,
to Miss Frances A. Yates, Mrs. E. E. Frank- Bologna, I686, p. 196; Ascoso, Le Pitture di
fort and Dr. E. Gombrich; in Paris to M. Bologna, Bologna, i686, p. i95; Zanotti,
Andre Chastel, Director of Studies at the Storia dell' Accademia Clementina di Bologna,
Ecole des Hautes Etudes; finally to MadameBologna, 1739, PP. I3, I9; Tiraboschi, Notizie
Bouchot-Saupicque, Conservateur du Cabinetdei pittori modenesi, Modena, 1786, p. I6;
des Dessins at the Louvre, who allowed me Bolognini Amorini, Vite dei pittori ed artefici
to photograph Niccolo dell' Abbate's draw- bolognesi, I842, III, pp. 46-7.
ings and to reproduce them. 4 Notizie dei Professori del Disegno cio? Pittori,
2 Perhaps we have an example of it in theScultori ed architetti Bolognesi e forestieri di sua
charming drawing in the Louvre (5881), scuola raccolte ed in pies tome divise di Marcello
showing a decorative scheme for the clock Oretti bolognese academico dell' Instituto delle
tower of the Palazzo Pubblico in Bologna.Scienze di Bologna, Volume Primo (MS. B. 123,
This project is not quoted in official docu- Archiginnasio, Bologna).
ments, but its general disposition is very close 5 Followed by G. B. Venturi, Storia di
to one of the definitive schemes for the clock
Scandiano, Modena, 1822, I and II; F. Reiset,
tower (A. Rubiani, L'Orologio del comune di Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1859, III, p. 270;
Bologna, 19o8, p. 9), as was observed by Both
Gabriel Rouches, La peinture bolonaise a la fin
de Tauzia (Notice Supplementaire des Dessins,
du XVIsidcle, Paris, 1913, P. 85. Bodmer, who
Musee du Louvre, 1879, no. 1514). devoted an interesting study to the Bolognese
The alterations to the clock tower were activity of Niccolo ("L'attivith artistica di
undertaken in i550, at which date Niccolo Niccolo dell' Abbate a Bologna," Riv. del
was very well known in Bologna. ThisComune draw-di Bologna, 1934), does not discuss this
ing was published by Guido Zucchini decoration,
("La nor does Venturi, Storia, IX,
Scoperta di affreschi di Niccolo dell' I933. Ab- It is simply mentioned by Guido
bate," Rivista dell' Comune di Bologna,Zucchini,
1929). op. cit., p. 12.
~ Alidosi, Istruzione delle cose notabile 6 Alidosi,
di op. cit., and Zanotti, op. cit.
Bologna, Bologna, 1621, p. 93; Bumaldi, 7 "In questa insigne opera avanti che dal
Minervalia Bonum Civium, Bologna, I641, p.tempo sia per affato consumata diremo
I14

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A LOST FRESCO OF NICCOLO DELL' ABBATE AT BOLOGNA I15
II sole col Capricorno montato da Giove fulminante appariscono tre
scogliosi monti, in sul maggiore dei quali innalzata e un ara ove sta scritto
nel mezzo: "INNOCENS MANIBUS ET MUNDO CORDE." Sopra quest' ara splende
il Pontificale Triregno, avendo a lati: 2 corone di fronde e fiori intessute.
In uno dei monti minori scorgersi il pegaso, e nell' altro un simplice cavallo
da parecchi fanciulli montato, altri essendovene in atto di salirsi sopra ed
alcuni a terra caduti-nel secolo poi oltre l'accennata bellissima donna
che virtu rappresenta evvene un' altra pure gentillissima, ambedue
reggenti una gran chiave, e sotto si legge:

"DUX VIRTUS FORTUNA COMES, MENS CONSCIA RECTI


MONTIBUS IS (sic) PETRI SANCTA AD FASTIGIA VENIT."1

Often referred to as an emblema, the fresco soon came to be taken for a


mysterious hieroglyph.2 The interest it aroused in Bologna is understandable
since under the influence of Alciati3 the art of emblems was particularly highly
developed in that city.
Zanotti already seems to have forgotten its complicated symbolism, and
bestows special praise on the grace of the two female figures. They seem,
moreover, to have been the best preserved part of the fresco towards the end
of its life.4 Malvasia enthusiastically describes a drawing in his collection-
'The Woman with the Key'-which he takes to be a study for the decoration.5
This drawing now belongs to the Cabinet des Dessins of the Louvre (Pl. 32b).A
Another drawing in this collection, by Niccolo, agrees very closely with
the description of the fresco, and can be considered as a design for it (Pl. 32a). 7
Only the Latin inscriptions are omitted. The two women with keys differ in
some particulars from the Malvasia drawing, but they are very close in style;
this figure is certainly the finished study for one of the details of the com-
position.
vedersi" (Zanotti, op. cit.). 6 Malvasia, Felsina Pittrice, p. I6o. Cf. also
1 Zanotti, op. cit., p. 13, n. 13. Il claustro di S. Michele in Boseo di Bologna . ..
descritto dal Sig. Co. Carlo Cesare Malvasia,
2 Vedriani, op. cit., p. 66; Malvasia, op. cit.,
p. 196; Ascoso, op. cit., p. 196; Zanotti, op. Bologna, 1694, p. 29.
cit., p. '3. 6 After leaving Malvasia's collection, this
- Alciati taught at Bologna between 1537 drawing passed through those of Crozat and
and 1541. On the development of the art of Mariette. Cabinet des Dessins, Louvre, No.
hieroglyphs at Bologna see K. Giehlow, 5844, 'The Church Personified,' pen, 0.234 X
"Die Hieroglyphenkunde des Humanismus 0o. 136; published by Reizet, Gazette des Beaux-
in der Allegorie der Renaissance," Jahrb. Arts, 1859, III, p. 270; engraved by Gauche-
der Kunsthist. Sammlungen des allerh. Kaiser-val. On the mount the inscription: MULIER
hauses, XXXIII, I, I915, pp. I29-159. CLAVE PONTIFICIA VITIUM PRIMENS QUAM IN
4 "Nel muro aderente alla chiesa di San PARIETE CUJUSDEM DOMUS BONONAE FELICITER
Giacomo dei Carbonesi rimpetto al palazzo
DEPINXIT ANNO 1550. Reiset also considers it
Lignani ove videvasi un bel dipinto rappre-
to be a preparatory study for the fresco.
7 Cabinet des Dessins, Louvre, No. 5845,
sentate una femmina nuda coperta da sottil-
lissimo velo cosi attegiata e gentile 'Allegorical
che composition in honour of a Pope,'
mirabili erano e pochi resti ricoperti per0o.381
meta X 0.292, marked with a flourish in pen,
dalla calce e che poi per la costruzione di left. Reiset, who saw like Malvasia
bottom
nuovo edificio furono addi nostri totalmente that the preceding drawing was connected
distrutti" (Antonio Bolognini Amorini, op.with
cit.,the fresco, did not observe that No. 5845
III, pp. 46-7). was the sketch of the complete design.

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116 SYLVIE BEGUIN

On February 7th, 1550, Giovan


under the name ofJulius III. In R
Julius had been Cardinal Legate)
of enthusiasm. This election was
cause of the new Pope's genero
Julius II in bestowing favours
coronation was the pretext for a w
A short account of these has surv
tion, but the early evidence leave
probable that these early referen
historians to locate the decoratio
Lignani, Via San Mammolo (now
Palazzo Carbonesi, near San Gia
painted.3 It is not known why th
The complicated symbolism of t
the collaboration of a scholar. Un
eccellentissimo humanista eminen
is it certain that his name was Aloro? In the list of errata at the end of the
Istruzione delle Cose notabile ..., Alidosi corrects "Aloro" into "Albio."4 Is this
correction, hitherto unnoticed,5 based on proof or on probability? There was
indeed a Gio. Andrea Albio living in Bologna at the beginning of the sixteenth
century, recorded by Gian Maria Mazzuchelli.6 We do not know enough
1 Pastor, Histoire des Papes, French transla- chiave dipinta a fresco in contro i Signori
tion by A. Poizat, XIII, 1931, p. 57, n. 4. Marchesi
The Lignani"). For Reiset (op. cit.) and
brief of May 4th in fact halved the triennial Rouches (op. cit.), misquoting Scannelli and
subsidy which Bologna had to pay. Malvasia, wrongly conclude that Niccolo had
2 Le triomphali Feste e giostrefatte nell' inclitta
decorated the facade of the Palazzo Lignani.
Citta di Bologna con le publicazione d'un altra The text of Tiraboschi is quite clear, how-
giostra che se haura da fare il di Santa Croce ever:
di "Nel muro di una casa contigua a San
maggio prossimo per la creation di M. S. Papa Giacomo dei Carbonesi e una bella pittura di
Giulio III in Bologna par Anselmo Gioccarello. Niccolo . . " (op. cit.). The church of San
1550. Giacomo dei Carbonesi, No. 23 via Azeglio,
3 The house near San Giacomo dei Car- was demolished in 1882 (cf. Guido Zucchini,
bonesi, and sometimes referred to as "casa,"
Edifici di Bologna, Rome, 193I).
sometimes as "palazzo." Regarding the4 posi- Alidosi, op. cit., p. 214: "errori da cor-
tion of the fresco, Oretti's text (op. cit., reggersi."
p. 435),
is not clear: "Nella via di San Mammolo nella 5 G. B. Venturi still wrote "formato nel
facciata della casa de Lignani Signori Carbo- 1550 col consiglio di un litterato di nome
nesi incontro la Signori Lignani si vede..." Aloro (op. cit., 2 and 3).
Alidosi adds a fresh detail (op. cit., p. 93): 6Gian Maria Mazzuchelli, Gli scrittori
"nella via di San Mammolo, nella facciatad'Italia . . ., Brescia, 1753, I, part I, p. 336.
della casa di Signori Carbonesi incontro li
Mazzuchelli's text is not very clear; it speaks
Signori Legnani si vede . . ."; this occurs of a Gio Andrea who lived at the beginning
again in Bumaldi and Ascoso, and seems of to the sixteenth century and wrote a life of
have been misinterpreted after Scannelli Francesco
and Maria Grapaldo of Parma, and
Malvasia (Scannelli, op. cit., p. 324: "Si vedewho is perhaps the same person as a certain
pure nella citta di Bologna nel mezzo Bolognesealla doctor, Andrea Albio, the author
strada del corso all' incontro del Palazzo del of writings on medicine and of six dialogues
marchese Lignani certe favole a fresco De con
Acquis. I wish to thank Dr. Cesari Gnudi,
figure al naturale ridotte con gran pratica e
director of the Pinacotheca at Bologna, who
fondamento dell' arte"; Malvasia, Felsina kindly verified for me the old bibliography
pittrice, p. I50: "Femminina detta della on which Mazzuchelli relied.

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32

b-Woman with a Key,


Drawing, Louvre, Paris
(p. 15)

a-Niccolo dell' Abbate, Design for a Fresco, Louvre, Paris (p. I 15) c-Niccolo dell' Abbate,
Angel, Enamel from the
Sainte Chapelle, Beaux-
Arts, Paris (p. 122)

d-Pietro Lombardo, Allegory of Fortune, e-Illustration from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Wood-


Bas-Relief, Via Tadi,
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A LOST FRESCO OF NICCOLO DELL' ABBATE AT BOLOGNA I17
about him to judge whether he did in fact draw up the programme of
fresco. The latter, in any case, throws an interesting light on the tastes
culture of its author. Albio-Aloro is something of an eclectic; the first l
"Innocens manibus et mundo corde," is taken from Psalm xxiii, a p
allusion particularly suitable for a prelate. The two following lines consti
an elegiac diptych-a formula often employed in inscriptions-and are
quotations. The beginning of the dactylic hexameter "Dux virtus for
comes'" is inspired by a motto famous in the Renaissance, probably thro
the Emblemata of Alciati, which did much to make it known in artistic circ
The end of this hexameter, "Mens conscia recti," is taken from a well-kn
line of Virgil ;2 perhaps an allusion to the Pope's taste for classical texts.3
Alidosi and Zanotti, to whom we owe this very precise description,
nothing of the symbolism of the fresco. Alidosi remarks "In altro luogo
il significato delle figure"; but unfortunately he never comes back to t
subject. In the absence of Albio-Aloro's text, we are reduced to guessin
intentions. Only an astrologer could say whether Julius III's "Nativita"
been represented here in a convincing fashion; Albio-Aloro places it un
the sign of Capricorn and the conjunction Jupiter-Sun, which since antiq
has always been regarded as particularly favourable.4 A few years l
Vasari5 summed up the views of astrologers on the value of the sign of C
corn: "Segno appropriato dagli astrologi alla grandezza di principi illust
ascendente loro come fu di Augusto cosi e ancora del duca Cosimo nostro
The influence of this sign is strengthened by its conjunction with the Sun a
Jupiter,6 both of which predestine to greatness, and to spiritual and tem
power. The papal tiara and the keys bear witness to this in the fresco.
These astrological allusions were considered perfectly appropriate, e
though applied to a prelate; they gave an opportunity for skilful flattery
IOn this subject see R. Wittkower, analogy with Augustus who, although born
"Chance, Time and Virtue," Journal of the in September, took Capricorn as the sign of
Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, II, 1938, his horoscope (cf. W. Deonna, "The Crab
pp. 316-8, where the origin of this "motto" and the Butterfly," Journal of the Warburg and
and its success are discussed. Cf. also E. Courtauld Insts., XVII, I955, p. 64; and ibid.,
Wind, Bellini's Feast of the Gods, 1948, pp. 64-66
p. 46,and notes 306-325, on the meaning
n. 8. One of Alciati's emblems illustrates it,
of Capricorn). Lucas Gauricus establishes
and it is used as a device in the 1548 edition
Julius III's horoscope from the month of
(i.e., two years before the electionOctober of Julius(Lucae gauricii geophonensis episcopi
III). civitatensis tractatus astrologicus Venetiis 1552;
2 Aeneid, Bk. I, line 604. This line occurstractatus secundus, p. 22).
in the scene where Aeneas speaks to Dido: 51 raggionamenti e la lettere edite e inedite di
Di tibi, si qua pios respectant numina, si quid Giorgio Vasari, pittore antico e la descrizione dell'
Usquam justitia est et mens sibi conscia recti apparato per le nozze del principe Francisco di
praemia digna ferant. Medicis d'Anonimo, VIII, Florence, ed. San-
3 It is known that Julius III built up forsoni, 1882. The Raggionamento quinto (Sala di
himself a private library, which included theGiove), from which the quotation is taken,
Virgil of Apronius (see Pastor, op. cit., XIII,was written in I557-
p. 303, note). 6 Vasari, op. cit., p. 66. The scheme for the
4 As the Pope was born on September I oth, dome in Florence, begun by Vasari and
1457 (Pastor, op. cit.), the sign of Capricorn finished by Federico Zuccaro, reflects the
can only have been chosen by an artifice-- same beliefs (Vasari, op. cit., Raggionamento
for example, as the probable sign of concep- unico, p. 225; "angolo sestino cielo del Sole
tion. This artifice provided a flattering * . . angolo quarto = cielo di giove").

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118 SYLVIE B1GUIN

Julius III's coronation, like t


prophecies.' At Bologna, wh
of astrology and that of as
highly developed; all the al
specially appreciated.3 Below
Maria del Monte or dei Mon
hills, which also figure on
costumes and settings devis
use the same symbolism.5
Here, for example, is the des
in honour of Julius III orga

Fu scoperto un vago e hon


motto: "Aurea pax toto su
ciascuno. Eccoti una fanciu
mode per la salla solette e
molte laudi in honor diquel

At the banquet given by the


contained similar allusions-
perche il gran monte s'ados
1 A letter of direction Seristori of the bend. dated 22n
i55o0, quoted by fine In the Pastorexample of the (op.pontifical arms
cit.)
the prophecy of in the an art gallery at Todi, the bend is
astrologer wh
told a pontificate bordered ofwith three
twenty hills placed "en years
barre"
Pope. (i.e. in the direction of a bend sinister). In the
2 The names of the Titularies of the chairs diploma by which the Pope authorized the
of Astrology and Astronomy at Bologna are Count Spada of Terni to bear his arms in
known to us. Between I5o6 and 1507 Luca chief, they are: "Azure a bend gules bordered
or, charged with three hills, between two
Gauricus held the chair; after this date it was
laurel wreaths also or" (Count Pasini.
entrusted to astronomers; see Luigi Simeoni,
Frassoni, Essai d'Armorial des Papes, Rome
Storia dell' universith di Bologna, II (150o-1588),
p. 6o. College of Heralds, 9o6). The two laurel
3 The great importance of the prophecies wreaths which figure on the escutcheon of
of St. Brigitte and of Giovanni da Legnano Julius III doubtless suggested the "coroni di
in the "studio" of Bologna is well known, as fronde e fiore intessute" of the fresco, which
is the vogue enjoyed by the "Taccuini" or are mentioned by Alidosi and Zanotti in the
Almanachs of Girolomo Manfredi and description of the fresco, but do not appear
Domenico Maria Novara, both with the in the drawing.
general public and with men of letters (L. 5 They could be compared with Achillis
Bocchi Bonom. Symbolicarum quaestionum de
Sighinolfi, Cronaca dei Villola nella stazione dell'
Universita degli artisti, Bologna, I922, p. 69). universo genere quas serio ludebat-libri quinque
4 The mountain with three crests-heraldi- (Bologna in aedib. novae Accademica Bec-
cally, "g l'italienne" (V. Spretti, Enciclopedia chianae MDLV). The symbol CXLVO, in
storico-nobiliare italiana, Milan, 1928). The particular, is dedicated to Julius III; the
Pope's arms are usually painted as given symbol by CXLVI, dedicated to Innocento Car-
Ciacconius, when the former was still Car- dinal Mantovano, the aphorism of which is
dinal Ciocchi, also known as Cardinal del taken from Psalm xv, contains very similar
Monte San Savino, from the name of his images. Perhaps comparable allusions might
birthplace; a bend charged with three hills, be found in Rainerius, which I was not able
each with three peaks, and flanked by two to consult (A. F. Rainerius Thybris S. de creationas
laurel wreaths. These hills are placed in the Julio III P.M., Rome, I550).

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A LOST FRESCO OF NICCOLO DELL' ABBATE AT BOLOGNA 119
with "hills" of various colours ("sopra de cui veste erano monti di v
colori").
Having indicated Julius III by a rebus, a procedure much used in emblems,
the fresco now evokes him more precisely by symbols elucidated in Latin
verses. Two of them, the altar and the Pegasus, could correspond to the
constellations of the same name, which Albio-Aloro may have introduced into
the Pope's astral theme.' But the situation of this altar on the highest of the
three hills, and the statement "Tale emblema per quale l'autore habbia voluto
mostrare mediante alcuni virtu che vi sono dipinte che il sudetto pontifice
arrivane all' altezza di quel grado," together with the Latin inscription, warn
us not to interpret this emblem by means of astrology alone. In fact, the text
of Psalm xxiii, from which the first line is taken ("Innocens manibus et mundo
corde"), offers the following meditation:
Quis ascendit in monte Domini?
Aut quis stabit in loco sancto ejus?
Innocens manibus et mundo corde.2

This last line appears on the highest of the three hills. This hill, crowned with
an altar "a l'antique," offers a striking analogy with the device of the Gonzagas
of Mantua, as described by Gelli:3 the motto "Ad montem duc nos" is accom
panied by Mount Olympus, bearing an altar. In the same way, probably, th
word "Olympus" in Niccolo's fresco symbolizes the "sanctus locus" in David'
psalm-a confusion of mythology with religion which is also to be found i
other works "de circonstance" carried out for Julius III.4
To left and right of the central hill are two others, their symmetry clearly
a reflection of the balance between the subjects which crown them; the tw
symbols are obviously linked. The significance of the group on the left hill
particularly obscure: some children are trying to mount a horse, one of the
being already on its back. What is the exact meaning of this mysteriou
figure? In the absence of any precise text by Aloro-Albio, it seems difficul
to do anything more than suggest hypotheses. The rhythm of the childre
round the horse is reminiscent of Wheels of Fortune; perched in this manne
on the crest of a hill, they evoke these lines of Ariosto:

Questo monte a la ruota di Fortuna


Nella cui cima il Volgo ignaro pensa
Chi ogni quiete sia ne sene alcuna 5

This plastic representation seems rather unusual. It recalls the horse in the

1 In fact they confirmed the orientation 3 Gelli, Divise, motti, imprese di famiglie e
already indicated, since according to Firmicus
personaggi italiani, Milan, 1926, No. 83, pp. 38-
Maternus the constellation of the Altar fore- 39-
told the holding of religious office; cf. Julii
4 Cf. Pastor, op. cit., p. 60o, for the festivities
Firmici materni Mathesos libri VIII, W. Kroll
in Rome on the anniversary of the Pope's
and F. Skutch, Leipzig, Teubner ed., 848,election.
13;
5 Le satire di M. Lodovico Ariosto novisamente
E. Gombrich, Journal of the Warburg and Cour-
tauld Institutes, XIII, 1950, p. 192. stampate ed alla loro sana lettione ridotte (in
2 We quote from the text of the Polyglot
Venegia per Francesco Bindosi et Marpheo Passini
Bible of 1657 (III). Compagni) dal mese di Luglio M D XXXV.

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120 SYLVIE BI2GUIN

fourth chapter of the Hypner


remains obscure. It is true we are told that "this enormous horse of bronze"
had "outspread wings," while the horse in the fresco is wingless; on the oth
hand, the children who surround the former closely resemble those in t
fresco: "A number of little children were trying to ride upon its back, bu
none was able to remain thereon because of its swiftness and agility; wh
some were falling, others tried to re-mount ... some clung vainly to its lo
mane, while others who had fallen beneath its body were in the act of rising.
The horse faces the doorway through which Poliphilo is to pass, and "seem
to be directing the children towards this door." On that side of the pedes
of the statue was engraved the inscription "Dedicated to the ambiguo
Gods"; on the other side, "The Horse of Unhappiness."2
That this complex figure was well known seems to be proved by a bas
relief by Pietro Lombardo on a house in Padua (P1. 32d), in which Moschet
claimed to recognize the allegory of Fortune4 without seeing its obvio
connexion with the Poliphilo woodcut.5 Albio-Aloro was also probably we
acquainted with it, and it doubtless inspired this somewhat unusual repr
sentation of "the horse of Fortune." The lines in Latin (Fortuna comes) see
to support this interpretation.
This symbol is balanced and complemented by the Pegasus on the right
hand hill. This hill is smaller than the central one, as is Helicon in relati
to Olympus. Pegasus in the service of Zeus, companion of the Muses durin
his stay with the gods, could be the symbol of all the Pope's intellect
qualities and virtues.6 But Albio-Aloro attaches a moral significance to th
has not been satisfactorily explained. The
1 A second edition of the Hypnerotomachia
had just appeared in Venice five years
horse of Gattamelata at Padua, ofVerocchio's
previously (La Hypnerotomachia di poliphiloColleone,
cioe of Filarete's Mark Anthony, and
pugna d'amore in sogno . . . in Venetia those
M D of San Marco, have all been suggested
XXXXV in Vinegia nell' anno M D X as
L Vits source (cf. C. Ephrussi, Etude sur le Songe
in casa di Giglioli di Aldo). de Polyphile, 1888, p. 72, and W. Friedlaender
2 Indeed, the rest of the story compares "La
the tintura delle Rose," Art Bulletin, XX,
1938, p. 323, note 12). In connexion with
horse with that of Mejus Sejus, which brought
misfortune to all who mounted it (Pauly the horse of Poliphilo, Walter Friedlaender
Wissowa, Real Enciclopedia, s.v. Seius). recalls the passage from Plato, quoted by
Pico della Mirandola, where uncontrolled
3 A. Moschetti, "La casa Olzignani, l'altro
opera archittetoniche di Pietro Lombardo a
imagination and the appetite of the senses are
compared to an unmanageable horse: "la
Padova," Bolletino del Museo Civico di Padova,
XVII, 1914, chap. V, pp. 1-6. This relief fantasia
was confusa e l'appetito dei sensi chiama
on a house in the Via Tadi, No. 15. It is cattivo
seen cavallo" (W. Friedlaender, op. cit.,
note 12, p. 323). Linda Fierz-David, (The
in profile, as in the Poliphilo engraving.
Dream of Poliphilo, Bollingen, Series XXV,
Moschetti criticizes the smallness of the figures
1950)
of the bas-relief; this exaggerated smallness is suggests the following interpretation.
perhaps yet another proof that Pietro Lom- In itself the horse is speed and endurance,
bardo was inspired by the Poliphilo. It isprobably
not signifying the passage of time. The
children symbolize succeeding generations of
uninteresting to discover an echo of this type
of Pegasus with children in the 'Perseusmankind-hieroglyphs
and representing primitive
Andromeda' of Rubens (Berlin, K.F.M.) ;and cf. natural humanity.
Oldenbourg, Rubens, K. d. K., 1921, p. 225- 6 Reiset (manuscript inventory of the draw-
ings in the Louvre) No. 5845: "In the back-
4 This bas-relief does not seem to have any
connexion with the other bas-reliefs on the ground is the horse Pegasus (doubtless an
Via Tadi facade. allusion to the poetic talent of the person in
question)." Nothing we know of Julius III
5 The origin and meaning of this engraving

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A LOST FRESCO OF NICCOLO DELL' ABBATE AT BOLOGNA 121

winged horse of poetic imagination; for it is presumably t


the Virgilian line applies: "Mens conscia recti." This s
moreover, also occurs in other emblems.'
Finally, to the right and left of the composition stand
women holding keys. Their charm reveals the profane
fresco. It has been thought that they symbolized the Chu
the latter interpretation seems to be confirmed by the M
where the Woman with the Key tramples upon a naked
feet-who, according to Reiset,4 represents Vice. This i
of pontifical virtue-the "virtus" of the Latin text. Thi
analogous with ancient representations of the Psychomac
possibly have inspired Albio-Aloro and Niccolo. They co
inspired by papal iconography, where very similar motif
emblem in honour of Julius III also includes female fi
keys. 7
This, then, was the "Geroglifo" which so delighted the Bolognese-an
original variation on the traditional emblems of the Papacy, the family
escutcheon of the dei Monti, and a personal astrological motif of the Pope.
Its complicated programme does not seem to have troubled Niccolo dell'
Abbate; the sketch is a fine example of his skill in disposing figures in one of
the light and graceful compositions at which he excelled. The line is swift
and delicate, the manner seems improvised and spontaneous; the style is very
close to Parmigianino, particularly to the figures of the Steccata, from which
Niccolo derived the elongated proportions and small fine heads. Niccolo
could also have been inspired by some of Parmigianino's figures of Virtues,
such as the 'Fortitudo' at Chatsworth.8
With this sketch for a lost fresco we rediscover a new element characteriz-

gives any ground for this interpretation; but remains popular till the sixteenth century.
if it is correct, its flattery is no more exag-4 Reiset notes, in the Inventory of the
gerated than that of all the literature pro- Louvre drawings "The Church personified,
duced around Julius III at his election. It holdingis down Vice beneath the weight of a
in strong contrast to the very small amount key; symbol of Papal power."
actually done by the Pope to encourage litera- 5 It is also close to certain representations
ture. (Pastor, op. cit., chap. 5, P-. 302.) of St. Helena (Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins) ;
the St. Helena by Angelo de Marinis for the
1 Cf. II quarto libro delle Imprese illustri con
figure di stampe di Rome aggiunto da Vincenzo Charterhouse of Pavia, sculpted between
Ruscelli da Viterbo, Venice, 1583, where the 1552 and i556 (Tietze-Conrat, Old Master
devices stress the moral significance of the Drawings, June 1939, p. 5, fig- 3, p. 6). This
Pegasus (emblem of Count Alfonso Beccaria, analogy proves the great success of these wide-
p. 6; emblem of G. B. Cavallara, p. 35; hipped figures which, through Corregio and
emblem of Jacomo Foscarini, Procurator of Parmigiano, vulgarized Leonardo's contra-
St. Mark, p. 38). posto, enclosing contrasting rhythms in a
2 Reiset, Inventory of Drawings, and Gazette single form.
des Beaux-Arts, op. cit.: the Church personified. 6 For example, flying figures hold keys and
3 Zanotti already gives this meaning to it: olive branch on the tomb of Adrian VI at
"e nel Secolo poi oltre l'accennata bellissimaS. Maria dell' Anima.
Donna che virtu rappresenta evvene un altra SAchillis Bocchi, op. cit. They personify
pure gentilissima ambedue reggenti una gran divine peace and earthly peace.
chiave" (op. cit.). Van Marle, Iconographie de 8 Reproduced by Popham, The Drawings of
l'Art Profane, II, p. 15, shows that the motif Parmigianino, XLIVa.
of Vice crushed beneath the feet of Virtue

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122 SYLVIE BEGUIN

ing Niccolo's decorative style j


unearth traces of a famous "em
according to the taste of the peri
graziosa, augusta, oscura al volgo

1Niccolo repeated this motif of the in a very different style (P1. 32c).
"Woman with the Key" almost exactly in one 2 Ruscelli, referring to the emblem of G. B.
of the angels of the enamels of the Sainte Cavallara (Gelli, op. cit., p. 568. )
Chapelle (1553) (Ecole des Beaux-Arts), but

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