Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari

Infobox Artist
bgcolour =
name = Giorgio Vasari

imagesize = 210px
caption = Vasari's self-portrait
birthdate = 30 July 1511
location = Arezzo, Tuscany
deathdate = 27 June 1574
deathplace = Florence, Italy
nationality = Italian
field = Painting, architect
training = Andrea del Sarto
movement = Renaissance
works = Biographies of Italian artists
patrons =
awards =

Giorgio Vasari (30 July 151127 June 1574) was an Italian painter and architect, who is today famous for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.


Vasari was born in Arezzo, Tuscany. Recommended at an early age by his cousin Luca Signorelli, he became a pupil of Guglielmo da Marsiglia, a skillful painter of stained glass. Sent to Florence at the age of sixteen by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, he joined the circle of Andrea del Sarto and his pupils Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo where his humanist education was encouraged. He was befriended by Michelangelo whose painting style would influence his own.

In 1529 he visited Rome and studied the works of Raphael and others of the Roman High Renaissance. Vasari's own Mannerist paintings were more admired in his lifetime than afterwards. He was consistently employed by patrons in the Medici family in Florence and Rome, and he worked in Naples, Arezzo and other places. Many of his pictures still exist, the most important being the wall and ceiling paintings in the great Sala di Cosimo I of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where he and his assistants were at work from 1555, and his uncompleted frescoes inside the vast cupola of the Duomo, completed by Federico Zuccari and with the help of Giovanni Balducci. He also helped organize the decoration of the Studiolo, now reassembled in the Palazzo Vecchio.

As an architect, Vasari was perhaps more successful than as a painter. The loggia of the Palazzo degli Uffizi by the Arno opens up the vista at the far end of its long narrow courtyard, a unique piece of urban planning that functions as a public piazza, and which, if considing it as a short street, is the unique Renaissance street with a unified architectural treatment. In Florence Vasari also built the long passage connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace, through arcading across the Ponte Vecchio, now called Vasari Corridor after him. He also renovated the fine medieval churches of Santa Maria Novella and Santa Croce, from both of which he removed the original rood screen and loft, and remodelled the retro-choir in the Mannerist taste of his time.

In Rome, Vasari worked with Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Bartolomeo Ammanati at Pope Julius III's Villa Giulia.

Vasari enjoyed a high repute during his lifetime and amassed a considerable fortune. In 1547 he built himself a fine house in Arezzo (now a museum honoring him), and spent much labour in decorating its walls and vaults with paintings. He was elected one of the municipal council or priori of his native town, and finally rose to the supreme office of gonfaloniere.

In 1563, he helped found the Florence "Accademia del Disegno" (now the "Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze"), with the Grand Duke and Michelangelo as "capi" of the institution and 36 artists chosen as members.

Vasari died at Florence on 27 June 1574.

"' The "Vite"

As the first Italian art historian, he initiated the genre of an encyclopedia of artistic biographies that continues today. Vasari coined the term "Renaissance" ("rinascita") in print, though an awareness of the ongoing "rebirth" in the arts had been in the air from the time of Alberti. Vasari's work was first published in 1550, and dedicated to Grand Duke Cosimo I de' Medici. It included a valuable treatise on the technical methods employed in the arts. It was partly rewritten and enlarged in 1568 and provided with woodcut portraits of artists (some conjectural), entitled "Le Vite delle più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori" (or, in English, "Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects").

The work has a consistent and notorious bias in favour of Florentines and tends to attribute to them all the new developments in Renaissance art—for example, the invention of engraving. Venetian art in particular, let alone other parts of Europe, is systematically ignored. Between his first and second editions, Vasari visited Venice and the second edition gave more attention to Venetian art (finally including Titian) without achieving a neutral point of view.

Vasari's biographies are interspersed with amusing gossip. Many of his anecdotes have the ring of truth, although most are likely inventions.Fact|date=August 2008 Others are generic fictions, such as the tale of young Giotto painting a fly on the surface of a painting by Cimabue that the older master repeatedly tried to brush away, a genre tale that echoes anecdotes told of the Greek painter Apelles. With a few exceptions, however, Vasari's aesthetic judgment was acute and unbiased. He did not research archives for exact dates, as modern art historians do, and naturally his biographies are most dependable for the painters of his own generation and the immediately preceding one. Modern criticism—with all the new materials opened up by research—has corrected many of his traditional dates and attributions. The work remains a classic even today, though it must be supplemented by modern critical research.

Vasari includes a sketch of his own biography at the end of his "Vite", and adds further details about himself and his family in his lives of Lazzaro Vasari and Francesco Salviati. The "Lives" have been translated into French, German, Spanish and English.
* [ Excerpts from the "Vite" combined with photos of works mentioned by Vasari.] "'

Copies of Vasari’s "Lives of the Artists" online

* [ “Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists.”] Website created by Adrienne DeAngelis. Currently incomplete, intended to be unabridged, in English.
* [ “Le Vite."] 1550 Unabridged, original Italian.
* [ “Stories Of The Italian Artists From Vasari.”] Translated by E L Seeley, 1908. Abridged, in English.
* [ Le Vite - Edizioni Giuntina e Torrentiniana]
* [ Gli artisti principali citati dal Vasari nelle "Vite" (elenco)]


*"The Lives of the Artists" (Oxford World's Classics). Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-283410-X
*"Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, Volumes I and II". Everyman's Library, 1996. ISBN 0-679-45101-3
*"Vasari on Technique". Dover Publications, 1980. ISBN 0-486-20717-X
*"Life of Michelangelo". Alba House, 2003. ISBN 0-8189-0935-8
* [ Biography of Vasari and analysis for four major works]
* [ Brief "Vita"]

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