Bernardo di Bandino’s Portrait.

A tan-coloured small cap, A doublet of black serge, A black jerkin lined A blue coat lined, with fur of foxes’ breasts, and the collar of the jerkin covered with black and white stippled velvet Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli; black hose.

[Footnote: These eleven lines of text are by the side of the pen and ink drawing of a man hanged—Pl. LXII, No. 1. This drawing was exhibited in 1879 at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the compilers of the catalogue amused themselves by giving the victim’s name as follows: “Un pendu, vetu d’une longue robe, les mains liées sur le dos ... Bernardo di Bendino Barontigni, marchand de pantalons” (see Catalogue descriptif des Dessins de Mailres anciens exposes a l’Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris 1879; No. 83, pp. 9-10). Now, the criminal represented here, is none other than Bernardino di Bandino Baroncelli the murderer of Giuliano de’Medici, whose name as a coadjutor in the conspiracy of the Pazzi has gained a melancholy notoriety by the tragedy of the 26th April 1478. Bernardo was descended from an ancient family and the son of the man who, under King Ferrante, was President of the High Court of Justice in Naples. His ruined fortunes, it would seem, induced him to join the Pazzi; he and Francesco Pazzi were entrusted with the task of murdering Giuliano de’Medici on the fixed day. Their victim not appearing in the cathedral at the hour when they expected him, the two conspirators ran to the palace of the Medici and induced him to accompany them. Giuliano then took his place in the chancel of the Cathedral, and as the officiating priest raised the Host—the sign agreed upon—Bernardo stabbed the unsuspecting Giuliano in the breast with a short sword; Giuliano stepped backwards and fell dead. The attempt on Lorenzo’s life however, by the other conspirators at the same moment, failed of success. Bernardo no sooner saw that Lorenzo tried to make his escape towards the sacristy, than he rushed upon him, and struck down Francesco Nori who endeavoured to protect Lorenzo. How Lorenzo then took refuge behind the brazen doors of the sacristy, and how, as soon as Giuliano’s death was made known, the further plans of the conspirators were defeated, while a terrible vengeance overtook all the perpetrators and accomplices, this is no place to tell. Bernardo Bandini alone seemed to be favoured by fortune; he hid first in the tower of the Cathedral, and then escaped undiscovered from Florence. Poliziano, who was with Lorenzo in the Cathedral, says in his ‘Conjurationis Pactianae Commentarium’: “Bandinus fugitans in Tiphernatem incidit, a quo in aciem receptus Senas pervenit.” And Gino Capponi in summing up the reports of the numerous contemporary narrators of the event, says: “Bernardo Bandini ricoverato in Costantinopoli, fu per ordine del Sultano preso e consegnato a un Antonio di Bernardino dei Medici, che Lorenzo aveva mandato apposta in Turchia: così era grande la potenza di quest’ uomo e grande la voglia di farne mostra e che non restasse in vita chi aveagli ucciso il fratello, fu egli applicato appena giunto” (Storia della Republica di Firenze II, 377, 378). Details about the dates may be found in the Chronichetta di Belfredello Strinati Alfieri: “Bernardo di Bandino Bandini sopradetto ne venne preso da Gostantinopoti a dì 14. Dicembre 1479 e disaminato, che fu al Bargello, fu impiccato alle finestre di detto Bargello allato alla Doana a dì 29. Dicembre MCCCCLXXIX che pochi dì stette.” It may however be mentioned with reference to the mode of writing the name of the assassin that, though most of his contemporaries wrote Bernardo Bandini, in the Breve Chronicon Caroli Petri de Joanninis he is called Bernardo di Bandini Baroncelli; and, in the Sententiae Domini Matthaei de Toscana, Bernardus Joannis Bandini de Baroncellis, as is written on Leonardo’s drawing of him when hanged. Now VASARI, in the life of Andrea del Castagno (Vol. II, 680; ed. Milanesi 1878), tells us that in 1478 this painter was commissioned by order of the Signoria to represent the members of the Pazzi conspiracy as traitors, on the facade of the Palazzo del Podestà—the Bargello. This statement is obviously founded on a mistake, for Andrea del Castagno was already dead in 1457. He had however been commissioned to paint Rinaldo degli Albizzi, when declared a rebel and exiled in 1434, and his adherents, as hanging head downwards; and in consequence he had acquired the nickname of Andrea degl’ Impiccati. On the 21st July 1478 the Council of Eight came to the following resolution: “item servatis etc. deliberaverunt et santiaverunt Sandro Botticelli pro ejus labore in pingendo proditores flor. quadraginta largos” (see G. MILANESI, Arch. star. VI (1862) p. 5 note.)

As has been told, Giuliano de’ Medici was murdered on the 26th April 1478, and we see by this that only three months later Botticelli was paid for his painting of the “proditores”. We can however hardly suppose that all the members of the conspiracy were depicted by him in fresco on the facade of the palace, since no fewer than eighty had been condemned to death. We have no means of knowing whether, besides Botticelli, any other painters, perhaps Leonardo, was commissioned, when the criminals had been hanged in person out of the windows of the Palazzo del Podestà to represent them there afterwards in effigy in memory of their disgrace. Nor do we know whether the assassin who had escaped may at first not have been provisionally represented as hanged in effigy. Now, when we try to connect the historical facts with this drawing by Leonardo reproduced on Pl. LXII, No. I, and the full description of the conspirator’s dress and its colour on the same sheet, there seems to be no reasonable doubt that Bernardo Bandini is here represented as he was actually hanged on December 29th, 1479, after his capture at Constantinople. The dress is certainly not that in which he committed the murder. A long furred coat might very well be worn at Constantinople or at Florence in December, but hardly in April. The doubt remains whether Leonardo described Bernardo’s dress so fully because it struck him as remarkable, or whether we may not rather suppose that this sketch was actually made from nature with the intention of using it as a study for a wall painting to be executed. It cannot be denied that the drawing has all the appearance of having been made for this purpose. Be this as it may, the sketch under discussion proves, at any rate, that Leonardo was in Florence in December 1479, and the note that accompanies it is valuable as adding one more characteristic specimen to the very small number of his MSS. that can be proved to have been written between 1470 and 1480.]

Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.

Notebooks of Leonoardo da Vinci
X: Studies and Sketches for Pictures and Decorations.
On Madonna pictures.
Bernardo di Bandino’s Portrait.
Notes on the Last Supper.
On the battle of Anghiari.
Allegorical representations referring to the duke of Milan.
Allegorical representations.
Arrangement of a picture.
List of drawings.
Mottoes and Emblems.
. . .