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THE LOTTO PORTRAIT OF COLUMBUS. .
RE is no excuse for It is hardly worth while arguing the antibringing forward a new quity of the canvas. It speaks for itself, and portrait of Columbus at says unmistakably that it is old Italian — Venethis late day unless it has tian-Italian at that. The archæological methods more than the mere smack of determining the place of a work of art are of possibility about it. For now too well known for explanation, and too there are already some- accurately based to admit of much error. Nei
thing like six times six Co- ther is it worth while to go afield in search of lumbuses in the field, and every one brings in a a painter for the portrait, when the name of the separate tale, and every tale condemns Colum- very man we would naturally attribute it to is bus for—some other person. The confusion of upon the canvas. The signature and date read testimony is, however, no good reason for wholly “Laurens Lotto f, 1512." Both are genuine, rejecting all the portraits, with the assumption though the date had been clumsily scumbled that the discoverer never was drawn, carved, or over with gray paint. It has been suggested painted from life. Positive and direct proof that the signature was not the one Lotto usufor any likeness of him cannot be adduced. The ally signed. He had no usual signature until evidence, if it ever existed, has been lost in the 1522, and even after that it varies. I have before lapse of years. But there are probabilities that me as I write eight facsimiles of his signature, seem to attach themselves to two recurrent all written differently, and yet all, in common types, and these form chains of circumstantial with this signature, possessed of a certain charevidence worthy of consideration. The original acter that shows them to have come from one of one of these types, perhaps the earliest of all hand. Had the signature on this portrait been the portraits, we have before us in the recently a falsification, we may be sure it would not have discovered picture by Lorenzo Lotto, engraved varied a hair's-breadth from those on the wellfor the frontispiece of this magazine.
known portraits in the Brera, or that upon the The history of this portrait is brief, and about St. Antoninus in SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. as unsatisfactory as any of the other Colum- The variation is a proof of genuineness. But buses. It is supposed to have been painted the signature is corroboration only, not proof for Domenico Malipiero, the Venetian senator positive. and historian, at the instance of his correspon- Lorenzo Lotto was a painter who in his pordent, Angelo Trevisan (Trivigiano), secretary of traits was hardly second to Titian, and yet there the Venetian ambassador to Spain, who in 1501 remain to us few facts in his life. He was born was in intimate communication with Christo- probably about 1480, and as a painter was Venepher Columbus at Granada. Malipiero's manu- tian with some provincial earmarks about him. scripts (and presumably this picture) are said to Of the school of Giovanni Bellini, he was a have passed to Senator Francesco Longo. The friend and fellow-worker with Palma, and after Gradenigos were the heirs of the Longos, and 1512 shows the influence of Giorgione and, it was from them that the Cavaliere Luigi Rossi, later, of Titian. With a faculty for grasping techa steward of the Duchess of Parma, purchased nical features in others, Lotto brought many the picture. Just before Rossi's death the pic- reminiscences of his contemporaries into his ture was sold to a person named Gandolfi, who works. It has been said that he was influenced had it somewhat repaired and restored. The by Correggio (a mistake), by Leonardo (anbadly damaged head and red cap of an Indian other mistake), by Pennacchi, Carpaccio, Cima, at the right were cut out, and the picture was and half a dozen other painters. That he was made square instead of oblong. From Gan- a borrower there can be no doubt, and this pordolfi it passed to Signor Antonio della Rovere trait shows his characteristic borrowings. The of Venice, in whose house it was seen in 1891 sharp articulated drawing in both hands and by Captain Frank H. Mason, United States face points to his master Giovanni Bellini; the Consul-General at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and angularities of drapery, especially in the right by him bought for the World's Fair at Chica- sleeve, suggest Bartolommeo Vivarini; the fullgo. The record cannot be traced with any cer- ness of the cloak and figure are Palmesque; the tainty beyond the Gradenigos, and even if it coloring, especially in the scarlet under-coat could, it would prove no more than what the with the white edging at the neck, is peculiarly picture itself reveals. The best evidence for or Lottesque, and yet suggests the influence of against any picture is internal, not external. Ferrara; while the early Venetian landscape seen through the window is like Cima in of the many representations of Columbus drawing, and like the Lombards in its blue- every portrait with a ruff or a beard is excluded. green coloring. These influences showing in Neither was worn in Columbus's time. Critihis work were mingled with technical meth- cism accepts as possibilities two types of the ods peculiar to himself. Thus he had his discoverer. One is the Giovian type, best seen own method of handling light and shade, his perhaps in the D'Orchi portrait at Como or own color delicacy, and, what is more appa- the Yanez portrait at Madrid. The history of rent in this portrait, certain mannerisms in the supposed original is brief and uncertain. drawing. The theory of the late Senator Mo- Sixty years or more after the death of Columrelli, that the old Italians had a way of paint- bus, Vasari gave a list of two hundred and ing conventional features, has been sneered at eighty portraits in the villa of Paolo Giovio on by his critics, but nevertheless there is some Lake Como, which Duke Cosimo had Cristotruth in it, if not enough to establish a science. foro dell'Altissimo copy for his Gardaroba. In Lotto, for example, was very fond of giving his the list, with Attila, Artaxerxes, Saladin, Tamportraits a peculiar twist of the head, and a side- erlane, and other celebrities, whose portraits long look from the eye; his ears were almost al- must have been purely imaginary, appears ways heavy, long, and inclined toward a point, “Colombo Genovese." In 1575, engravings not at the top but at the bottom; his hands and purporting to reproduce the portraits in the fingers were never quite free from a cramped Como villa were printed, and among them one appearance; and the finger-tips were inclined that still does service for Christopher Columtoward a point with a very singular form of bus. If the real portrait of the discoverer ever finger-nail. Portraiture in those days did not was in that collection, it must have been lost extend to the minute realization of every indi- or confused with others. The Giovian type vidual feature. The examinationofa man's work shows the face and costume of a Franciscan
Bellini's or Titian's, for instance -shows brother instead of a navigator. For that reathat he used but one formula for all hands and son, and because it does not correspond to the ears. Just so with Lotto. This portrait, com- written descriptions left by the contemporapared with those in the Brera (especially the ries of Columbus, it has not been universally “ Portrait of a Lady with a Fan," No. 253), accepted. those in the National Gallery in London, or even The other type is well shown in the Ministhe sadly repainted Giorgionesque “Three try of Marine portrait at Madrid.2 The Lotto Ages "in the Pitti (engraved in this magazine for portrait, which we have before us, is an earlier April, 1892), will reveal the peculiar methods presentation of this type - perhaps the archeof the one man.
type. The difference between the two men Those who do not care for the technical shown in the two portraits is slight indeed. It analysis of a picture, but prefer to judge by the might result from two different artists viewing spirit in which it is conceived and executed, the same sitter, or the sitter himself seen at two may trace the identity of Lotto in that way different times or ages, or from the careless quite as well. For, in spite of his eclecticism, restorations from which both pictures have Lotto had an individuality of his own, showing suffered. We see such variations in the porin a loftiness of type, an aristocratic grace of traits of Francis I., and Napoleon I., and even countenance, a refinement of feeling, and all in those of George Washington. through both conception and method a certain seems to repeat itself in succeeding engravings nervous quality that is almost morbid in its and ideal portraits; something of it shows in sensitiveness. Certainly our portrait shows the Genoa statue ; so familiar is it that painters these qualities, and, applying either method of at this day employ it in historical pictures of recognition, the microscope of Morelli or the Columbus; and even the circus people use it broader intuitive sense of Mündler or Caval- in their show-bills. Whether real or imaginary, caselle, there is only one conclusion that can be it seems to be the popular conception of what reached about it. It is a work of Lorenzo the discoverer ought to be. Unfortunately there Lotto, and though it has suffered somewhat is no absolute Columbus criterion by which we from the effects of time and repainting, it still may judge whether it is fact or fiction, but there possesses not a little of nobility. Whether it are reasons for thinking it founded on fact. is a Columbus or not, is quite another matter. It is, in the first place, the Ligurian type, Perhaps if the reasons for thinking so are set the Genoese type, which the contemporaries forth, the public will be as capable a judge as and followers of Columbus — his son Ferdithe Columbus experts.
nand, Trevisan, Las Casas, Oviedo, Benzoni 1 Critical articles upon this portrait appeared in December 26, 1889, and I am informed that Cavalca“ La Tribuna Illustra,'' Rome, December 7, 1890, and selle, Morelli, Böde, and a number of German experts in the “ Rivista Marittima,” July and August, 1890. have given a like opinion. W. J. Stillman wrote of it as a Lotto in the “Nation," 2 Engraved in this magazine for May, 1892.
This type - described in saying that the admiral was look—this man is a navigator, a commander. tall, well formed, above the average height; The lines of the face are those formed by exhis face was long, neither full nor thin, his posure to all sorts of weather; the bronzed, cheek-bones a little high. He had an aquiline tanned look of the skin is the result of salt air nose, light (gray) eyes, and a fair, high-colored and southern sun; the very eyes, with their keen, complexion. When a young man his hair was narrow look, are those of a “lookout” at sea blond, but at the age of thirty it became gray. who blinks in the fierce light of noonday beatLas Casas adds that“ he had an air of author- ing on the ocean. But, above all, if he be not ity,” and Benzoni that “his appearance was a navigator, why the attributes of the craft that of a nobleman.” Such a general descrip- about him? In the left hand he holds a logtion is, of course, a rather loose mask into glass. It is not an hour-glass, but a log-glass, which many faces may be thrust; but the one which runs from fourteen to twenty-eight that fits it best is the Ligurian face. A com- seconds, and was used in connection with the parison, feature by feature, will show that the log-line to ascertain the speed of a ship. It Lotto portrait tallies exactly with the descrip- rests upon a book, and that book is marked tion even in the matter of the gray hair, the on the back “ Aristotel.” Aristotle and Strabo gray eyes, the “air of authority,” and “the both taught the spherical theory of the earth. appearance of a nobleman.” If the original It was the influence of Aristotle and his interstudy for the portrait were made in 1501, as preters that kept alive during the middle ages is thought probable, it should find Columbus the doctrine that India and Spain were not far (according to Harrisse) fifty-six years of age, apart; and Mr. Tillinghast informs us (Winout of favor with the court, suffering from sor, Vol. I, p. 36) that Columbus certainly knew hardships and misfortunes, and disheartened by of these sources. Whether he did or did not ingratitude. Again, the picture corresponds, would have made little difference to the painter. even in the facial expression of sadness and He had to portray a believer in the roundness wounded pride.
of the earth. Aristotle was an ancient authorThe costume in which the figure is clothed ity for that belief; hence his volume was an has more importance, perhaps, than would or- appropriate symbol — particularly appropriate dinarily attach, for the reason that the old Vene- for the man who first put the spherical theory tians never searched the history of antiquity to a practical test. Another symbol, that of for appropriate “historical garments. They the Indian in the red cap at the right, was unalways painted what they saw about them, and fortunately cut away, and cannot be spoken of here in this portrait we have the Italian cos- now. There was probably some confusion in tume of the Columbus age. It is the first time the painter's mind between the Indian brought that it appears in any portrait of the discoverer; to Venice by Cappello as a present to the Seigand the second and only other time it appears niory in 1497 and the Moors of western Africa. is in the repetition, the Ministry of Marine por- The error of thinking them of kin was popular trait. Carderera, in his “Informe sobre los Re- at that time; hence the red fez, which might, tratos de Cristobal Colon,” says of the costume indeed, have been worn by Cappello's Indian of the Columbus period, that for the better while in Venice. classes.“ the hair was as long as to cover the If there is any possible doubt about the ears, and cut in a horizontal line; the shirts had book, the log-glass, and the Indian symbols, thin folds, and a collar which was no higher there is none whatever about the attribute in than a finger is thick; the coat was long to the the right hand. It is a map-a map not of knees, and the collar was cut out square around Africa or India, but of the New World, the the neck, or the breast was cut out square. West Indies discovered by Columbus. What ... Mantles were long, and fell to the ankles, possible pertinence could there be in placing with broad lapels, and had slits or openings at this map of Columbus's discoveries in the hands the sides.” Had he added that the lapels were of another person than Columbus himself? He of silk or of fur, it would seem as though his holds the map half unrolled to the view as an description had been taken directly from the evidence of his achievement; in the hands of Lotto portrait, for it fits it in every respect. It any other person, say Vasco da Gama, Magelis, in brief, the Italian costume in the late fif- lan, or Vespucci, it would look like downright teenth and early sixteenth centuries for well- theft or false pretenses. During the life of Coto-do or noble people, and may be seen at this lumbus, and for many years after his death, no day in the Venetian pictures by Bellini, Car- navigator would have dared to appropriate to paccio, Cima, and their contemporaries. himself such a symbol. The discovery of the
But to come a little nearer to our search, this West Indies was the peculiar glory of ColumGenoese, with “an air of authority” and a tinge bus, and even modern historical criticism, which of melancholy about him, who looks out of his has pilfered from him everything else, includcanvas with such a reproachful, half-disdainful ing ability, honor, and common decency, has
not disputed his right to that. And yet not with Columbus's voyages live, to have a map quite all the land upon the map was discovered made at the request of your Magnificency. It by Columbus. The map was of course sketch- will be extremely well executed and copious, ily painted, as the symbol of a navigator, not
and minute in respect to the newly discovered for chartographical purposes; but nevertheless country. the degrees of longitude, the outlines of the isl- Further on he speaks of its size preventing ands, and the names, may be easily traced. The the sending of it; Malipiero must wait until names that appear are Spagnola (Hayti), La Trevisan returns to Venice. In the mean time Dominica, Moferato (Monserrat), Canibalo- he sends a free Venetian translation of the first rum (Cannibal Islands), and at the bottom book of Martyr's “ Decades of the Ocean,” Terra Sancte (sic) Crucis (Brazil). But Brazil containing the first three voyages of Columwas not discovered by Columbus. It is usually bus, and promises the others. Probably Maliconceded to be the find of the Portuguese Ca- piero had no direct interest in Columbus. As bral in 1500. How does it happen, then, that a historian and a Venetian senator, he wanted he holds a map showing a discovery not his complete information regarding the New World own?
- perhaps to promote Venetian commerce. All the discoveries on the map were known Possibly Columbus did not know about all the in 1500. Columbus died in 1506. The earliest land discovered, but the Venetian Embassy in engraved map of the New World now known Granada did. It knew about the discovery to us is the Ruysch map, published with the of Terra Sanctæ Crucis by Cabral through its second edition of the Rome Ptolemy in 1508. secretary in Portugal, and through the letter The map in the Lotto portrait (the portrait is of the King of Portugal to the King of Spain dated 1512, it will be remembered) is very like (dated July 29, 1500, and printed in Rome, the West Indian portion of the Ruysch map, October 23, 1500) announcing that discovery. except in the omission of some important isl. In August, 1501, Trevisan promises to make ands and in the spelling of some of the names. the map“as copious and minute as possible”; It is not impossible that Lotto used the Ruysch therefore he sends to have it made at Palos. map, because it was in existence in his time, and why, if not that he finds there map-makers fathat he copied the West Indian portion of it, miliar with Portuguese as well as with Spanish indicating at the bottom the Terra Sanctæ discoveries? There was no need of sending Crucis, ignorant or careless as to whether Co- to Palos for Columbus's charts, because Columbus did or did not discover that particular lumbus had his charts with him at Granada, country. From the painter's point of view, there where Trevisan was located. It was evidently would be nothing unusual or out of the way in Trevisan's object to have the map show not his doing so. But if such were the case, why only the islands of Columbus's discovery, but did not Lotto likewise copy the spelling? Why all the discoveries. It is extremely likely that Canibalorum for “ Canibalos In,” and Mo- when the Embassy returned to Venice in 1502, ferato for “Moferrato"? Why were Matinina, Trevisan's map had, besides the West Indies, and Tamaraqua, and other names and islands the outline of Terra Sanctæ Crucis (Brazil) upon on the Ruysch map omitted entirely ? Did it, and that Lotto used the map for his portrait. Lotto reproduce Ruysch's map, or was It is not positively known that such was the Ruysch's map an enlargement of that now lost case, for all trace of the map is now lost; but map brought to Venice for Domenico Mali- one slight thing seems to connect the Lotto piero by Angelo Trevisan in 1502—a map map with the Trevisan map, and intimates which Lotto must have known about and pos- that the one was merely a painter's copy of sibly copied in this portrait ?
the other. In 1504 Trevisan's Venetian transAngelo Trevisan, secretary to the Venetian lation of the first book of Martyr's “ Decades” Embassy at Granada, had been requested by appeared under the title of “Libretto de tutte Domenico Malipiero, the Venetian senator, le Navigazione del Re di Spagna,” and in it admiral, and historian, to obtain for him a map the spelling of the names of the countries is of the newly discovered countries in the west, the same as that upon the map in the hand of as appears from a letter of Trevisan's to Mali- the Lotto Columbus.1 Why the map made at piero dated Granada, August 21, 1501. In Palos, a Spanish port, should have Venetian that letter he speaks of his intimacy and friend- and Latin names upon it corresponding to the ship for Columbus, who was then at Granada, spelling in Trevisan's “ Libretto,” is explicable poor, and out of favor with the sovereigns.
only on the ground that Trevisan so ordered it, Through him (Columbus] I have sent to Palos, knowing that the map was for Venetian use. a place where only sailors and men acquainted That Lotto should have copied this map with Terra Sanctæ Crucis upon it, or that he should a present to Malipiero. Trevisan's one-sentence have varied the Ruysch map, using either the description of Columbus prefacing his “ Lione or the other as a symbol of Columbus bretto,” and reading “ Christopher Columbus, the discoverer, has nothing of the improbable a Genoese, high and tall, red, very clever, with about it. To paint what was before one, re- a long face," seems insufficient and meaningless gardless of chronology or exact historic truth, unless accompanied by a sketch or portrait of was the story of all the Renaissance art. the man. It is not improbable that such a sketch
1 This information is furnished me by Signor della in Venice. The “Libretto” was republished with Rovere, who has had access to the only copy of the Cabral's voyage and other matter in the “ Paesi nova“ Libretto" in existence, in the library of St. Mark's mente retrovati,” Vicentia, 1507.
There is no record that Lotto ever was in or portrait served as Lotto's model for this larger Spain or ever saw Columbus. Such things were picture. Lotto was certainly well enough known not matters of record. There are only some in 1512 to obtain such an order from Malipiero half-dozen dates in Lotto's whole life, and these or Trevisan. Later on his intimate companion, come mainly from churches that had paid Palma Vecchio, was working for a branch of the money for his pictures. From the different Malipiero family ; but whether Lotto ever did towns in which these dates appear it would seem or did not can only be conjectured. that Lotto was a wanderer over Italy at least. Such, in brief, is the present evidence for the From 1500 to 1503 no one knows where he was. Lotto Columbus. It is not conclusive, because He might have been in Spain, as he was, later the portrait has outlived its record, and stands on, in Rome and elsewhere. He may have to-day, like many another Renaissance portrait, sketched Columbus from life and never finished the sole witness in itself for itself. The type, the picture until 1512. Such things were not in- the costume, the attributes, the circumstances, frequent then, nor are they now. It is more like point toward a likeness of Columbus; that ly, however, that Trevisan, the intimate friend is all. Circumstantial or hearsay evidence is of Columbus, who had the elaborate map made all that has ever been brought forward for for Malipiero,- a map so large that he had to any portrait of Columbus, and perhaps it is take it with him to Venice in his luggage,—also not too much to say that the evidence for brought with him some sketch or portrait of this one is quite as strong as for any other in Columbus as a complement to the map and as existence.
John C. Van Dyke.
“Western people have a proverbial saying that the blue-grass springs up wherever an Indian has stepped."— J. J. PIATT. BLUE-GRASS dancing to your shadow Doughty brave, afraid of no manLightly swaying o'er the sod,
Ha, your blade is tipped with red ! Do you spring up in the meadow
'T is the blood of dusky foeman Where an Indian foot has trod ?
In some old-time battle shed.
Light and lissome, tall and slender,
Pluméd chieftain of the soil,
Ay, you dance the war-dance furious
Ere you dash into the broil !
Come, your secret have I found ?
Sent to guard yon Indian mound.
Alice Williams Brotherton.