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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art

Vasari, Giorgio

(b Arezzo, 30 July 1511; d Florence, 27 June 1574). Painter, draughtsman, architect, writer and collector. From a family of potters (vasaio, hence Vasari), Giorgio was the son of Antonio Vasari (d 1527) and Maddelena Tacci (d 1558). . . . Giorgio’s predilection for learned, allegorical subjects in his paintings and his ability to express himself in writing were unusual for a painter of his time. . . . Vasari’s Vite (Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori  . . .) was published, amid widespread interest, in 1550, by the Florentine printer Lorenzo Torrentino (d 1563). The work, two volumes with more than a thousand pages, was dedicated to Cosimo I de’ Medici. It contains a general preface (proemio), an introduction to architecture, sculpture and painting, and three parts consisting of artists’ biographies, each with its own proemio. . . . Vasari’s fame rests principally on this book, of which the second, enlarged edition, published in 1568, was the basis of all subsequent editions and translations. For this work Vasari is considered the father of art history. The Vite is more than just a chronological sequence of biographies (as had already existed), it is the first critical history of artistic style.

Julian Kliemann