Perkins’s Tuscan Sculptors -- By: Anonymous
BSac 28:112 (Oct 1871) p. 752
Perkins’s Tuscan Sculptors1
These superb and costly volumes are excellent in paper, type, and embellishment, affording constant pleasure to a reader’s taste. Many of the engravings are wonderful for their delicacy of outline, and for the insight they give into the works of art which they illustrate. They leave a definite and lasting impression. That of St. Cecilia by Donatello, and the Creation by Ghiberti, in the first volume, are exquisite in beauty. The biographies are many of them very interesting and instructive, presenting striking examples of the unwearied and patient industry of men of the greatest genius. The style is very precise and elegant; the words used in the description being so exact and fitting that any change would often obscure the meaning. The author has taken great pains in studying his subject, and the reader has the satisfaction of perusing the words of a master fully qualified to give instruction.
Our clerical students cannot fail to be interested in the record which these volumes give of the labors performed and the sufferings endured by the great artists of Tuscany. The writer of sermons is apt to imagine, that he is the only man who lives a life of unrequited toil. The perusal of Mr. Perkins’s narratives illustrates the fact that the lofty genius and exquisite taste of artists have prompted them to arduous work, and have borne them so far above the standard of their age as to deprive them of the reward which was their due.
The following are a few specimens of the suggestive records with which these volumes abound. They are presented for the most part, although not exactly, in the words of Mr. Perkins.
Niccola Pisano and the Pisan pulpit — It was during the eleventh century, when Pisa was chief among the Ghibelline cities of Europe and a seaport, that the lonely buildings which now from its principal attraction were erected. We must look to a still earlier period for her antique sarcophagi which line the corridors of her Campo Santo, and which doubtless were in her possession when she was a colony of imperial Rome; while others were brought from the East, Sicily, and various parts of Italy, during the Middle Ages. When these sarcophagi decorated the exterior
BSac 28:112 (Oct 1871) p. 753
of the Duomo during the eleventh, twelfth, and part of the thirteenth century, they served as tombs of distinguished Pisans, and illustrious foreigners deceased at Pisa, and linked together her Roman and mediaeval existence (pp. 3 seq.).
The noble buildings of the city and the ancient marbles that decorated them formed one of Niccola Pisano’s principal sources of instruction. He was born between 1205 and 1207...
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