DONATELLO AND THE MERCHANT.
A rich Genoese merchant commissioned Donatello to execute his bust in bronze, of life size. When the work was completed, it was pronounced a capital performance, and Cosmo de’ Medici, who was the friend of both parties, caused it to be placed in the upper court of the palace, between the battlements which overlook the street, that it might be seen by the citizens. When the merchant, unacquainted with the value of such works, came to pay for it, the price demanded appeared to him so exorbitant that he refused to take it, whereupon the mutter was referred to Cosmo. When the latter sought to settle the difference, he found the offer of the merchant to be very far from the just demand of Donatello, and turning towards him, observed that he offered too small compensation. The merchant replied that Donatello could have made it in a month, and would thus be gaining half a florin a day (about one dollar). Donatello, disgusted and stung with rage, told the merchant that he had found means in the hundredth part of an hour to destroy the whole labor and cures of a year, and knocked the bust out of the window, which was dashed to pieces on the pavement below, observing, at the same time, that “it was evident he was better versed in bargaining for horse-beans than in purchasing statues.” The merchant now ashamed of his conduct, and regretting what had happened, offered him double his price if he would reconstruct the bust,—but Donatello, though poor, flatly refused to do it on any terms, even at the request of Cosmo himself.
DONATELLO AND HIS KINSMAN.
When Donatello was very sick, certain of his kinsfolk, who were well to do in the world, but had not visited him in many years, went to condole with him in his last illness. Before they left, they told him it was his duty to leave to them a small farm which he had in the territories of Prato, and this they begged very earnestly, though it was small and produced a very small income. Donatello, perceiving the motive of their visit, thus rebuked them: “I cannot content you in this matter, kinsmen, because I resolve—and it appears to me just and proper—to leave the farm to the poor husbandman who has always tilled it, and who has bestowed great labor on it; not to you, who without ever having done anything for it, or for me, but only thought of obtaining it, now come with this visit of yours, desiring that I should leave it to you. Go! and the Lord be with you.”
DEATH OF DONATELLO.
Donatello died on the 13th of December, 1466. He was buried with great pomp and solemnity in the church of San Lorenzo, near the tomb of Cosmo, as he himself had commanded (for he had purchased the right), “to the end,” as he said, “that his body might be near him when dead, as his spirit had ever been near him when in life.” Bottari observes that another reason for his choice of San Lorenzo, may have been that many of his works were in that church.