Among the other pictures is a naked sprawling scene of bodies and limbs by Cosimo I’s favourite painter, Bronzino (1502-1572), called “The Saviour in Hell,” and two nice Medici children from the same brush, which was kept busy both on the living and ancestral lineaments of that family; two Filippino Lippis, both fine if with a little too much colour for this painter: one—No. 1257—approaching the hotness of a Ghirlandaio carpet piece, but a great feat of crowded activity; the other, No. 1268, having a beautiful blue Madonna and a pretty little cherub with a red book. Piero di Cosimo is here, religious and not mythological; and here are a very straightforward and satisfying Mariotto Albertinelli—the “Virgin and S. Elizabeth,” very like a Fra Bartolommeo; a very rich and beautiful “Deposition” by Botticini, one of Verrocchio’s pupils, with a gay little predella underneath it, and a pretty “Holy Family” by Franciabigio. But Andrea remains the king of the walls.
From this Sala a little room is gained which I advise all tired visitors to the Uffizi to make their harbour of refuge and recuperation; for it has only three or four pictures in it and three or four pieces of sculpture and some pleasant maps and tapestry on the walls, and from its windows you look across the brown-red tiles to S. Miniato. The pictures, although so few, are peculiarly attractive, being the work of two very rare hands, Piero della Francesca (? 1398-1492) and Melozzo da Forli (1438-1494). Melozzo has here a very charming Annunciation in two panels, the fascination of which I cannot describe. That they are fascinating there is, however, no doubt. We have symbolical figures by him in our National Gallery—again hanging next to Piero della Francesca—but they are not the equal of these in charm, although very charming. These grow more attractive with every visit: the eager advancing angel with his lily, and the timid little Virgin in her green dress, with folded hands.
The two Pieros are, of course, superb. Piero never painted anything that was not distinguished and liquid, and here he gives us of his best: portraits of Federigo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and Battista, his second Duchess, with classical scenes behind them. Piero della Francesca has ever been one of my favourite painters, and here he is wholly a joy. Of his works Florence has but few, since he was not a Florentine, nor did he work here, being engaged chiefly at Urbino, Ferrara, Arezzo, and Rome. His life ended sadly, for he became totally blind. In addition to his painting he was a mathematician of much repute. The Duke of Urbino here depicted is Federigo da Montefeltro, who ruled from 1444 to 1482, and in 1459 married as his second wife a daughter of Alessandro Sforza, of Pesaro, the wedding being the occasion of Piero’s pictures. The duke stands out among the many Italian lords of that time as a humane and beneficent ruler and collector, and eager to administer well. He was a born fighter,