For her Cimabue wrought, who infused Byzantine formalism with a suggestion of nature and feeling; for her the Pisani, who divined at least, if they could not conjure with it, the secret of Greek
supremacy in sculpture; for her the marvellous boy Ghiberti proved that unity of composition and grace of figure and drapery were never beyond the reach of genius;1
for her Brunelleschi curved the dome which Michel Angelo
hung in air on St. Peter
's; for her Giotto reared the bell-tower graceful as an Horatian ode in marble; and the great triumvirate of Italian
poetry, good sense, and culture called her mother.
There is no modern city about which cluster so many elevating associations, none in which the past is so contemporary with us in unchanged buildings and undisturbed monuments.
The house of Dante
is still shown; children still receive baptism at the font (il mio bel San Giovanni
) where he was christened before the acorn dropped that was to grow into a keel for Columbus
; and an inscribed stone marks the spot where he used to sit and watch the slow blocks swing up to complete the master-thought of Arnolfo.
In the convent of St. Mark
hard by lived and labored Beato Angelico, the saint of Christian art, and Fra Bartolommeo, who taught Raphael dignity.
From the same walls Savonarola
went forth to his triumphs, short-lived almost as the crackle of his martyrdom.
The plain little chamber of Michel Angelo
seems still to expect his return; his last sketches lie upon the table, his staff