What became of the cartoon is not definitely known, but Vasari’s story is that Bandinelli, the sculptor of the Hercules and Cacus outside the Palazzo, who was one of the most diligent copyists of the cartoon after it was placed in a room in this building, had the key of the door counterfeited, and, obtaining entrance during a moment of tumult, destroyed the picture. The reasons given are: (1, and a very poor one) that he desired to own the pieces; (2) that he wished to deprive other and rival students of the advantage of copying it; (3) that he wanted Leonardo to be the only painter of the Palazzo to be considered; and (4, and sufficient) that he hated Michelangelo. At this time Bandinelli could not have been more than eighteen. Vasari’s story is uncorroborated.
Leonardo’s battle merely perished, being done in some fugitive medium; and the walls are now covered with the works of Vasari himself and his pupils and do not matter, while the ceiling is a muddle of undistinguished paint. There are many statues which also do not matter; but at the raised end is Leo X, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and the first Medici Pope, and at the other a colossal modern statue of Savonarola, who was in person the dominating influence here for the years between 1494 and 1497; who is to many the central figure in the history of this building; and whose last night on earth was spent with his companions in this very room. But to him we come in the chapter on S. Marco.
Many rooms in the Palazzo are to be seen only on special occasions, but the great hall is always accessible. Certain rooms upstairs, mostly with rich red and yellow floors, are also visible daily, all interesting; but most notable is the Salle de Lys, with its lovely blue walls of lilies, its glorious ceiling of gold and roses, Ghirlandaio’s fresco of S. Zenobius, and the perfect marble doorway containing the wooden doors of Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano, with the heads of Dante and Petrarch in intarsia. Note the figures of Charity and Temperance in the doorway and the charming youthful Baptist.
In Eleanor of Toledo’s dining-room there are some rich and elaborate green jugs which I remember very clearly and also the ceiling of her workroom with its choice of Penelope as the presiding genius. Both Eleanor’s chapel and that in which Savonarola prayed before his execution are shown.
But the most popular room of all with visitors—and quite naturally—is the little boudoiresque study of Francis I, with its voluptuous ladies on the ceiling and the secret treasure-room leading from it, while on the way, just outside the door, is a convenient oubliette into which to push any inconvenient visitor.
The loggia, which Mr. Morley has painted from the Via Castellani, is also always accessible, and from it one has one of those pleasant views of warm roofs in which Florence abounds.
One of the most attractive of the smaller rooms usually on view is that one which leads from the lily-room and contains nothing but maps of the world: the most decorative things conceivable, next to Chinese paintings. Looking naturally for Sussex on the English map, I found Winchelsey, Battel, Rye, Lewes, Sorham, Aronde, and Cicestra.