The Lives of the Artists

The Lives of the Artists

The Lives of the Artists

The Lives of the Artists

Synopsis

These biographies of the great quattrocento artists have long been considered among the most important of contemporary sources on Italian Renaissance art. Vasari, who invented the term "Renaissance," was the first to outline the influential theory of Renaissance art that traces a progression through Giotto, Brunelleschi, and finally the titanic figures of Michaelangelo, Da Vinci, and Raphael. This new translation, specially commissioned for the World's Classics series, contains thirty-six of the most important lives and is fully annotated.

Excerpt

Giorgio Vasari was born of relatively humble stock in the little town of Arezzo, most famous today for the magnificent fresco cycle on the Legend of the True Cross done in the main cathedral by Piero della Francesca. According to Vasari's own testimony, his ancestry included at least one potter (vasaro or vasaio). Arezzo was part of the Florentine Republic's provincial territory, and this fact eventually guaranteed young Giorgio relatively easy access to the artistic circles of the capital city. In 1524, his father Antonio Vasari, who encouraged his interest in drawing, persuaded Cardinal Silvio Passerini, the representative of the newly elected Medici Pope, Clement VII, who was then passing through the city, to take the boy to Florence to be apprenticed as an artisan. Years later, in his Lives, Vasari was to boast that Luca Signorelli (the cousin of Giorgio's grandfather) stayed with his family in Arezzo in 1520 and gave him some of his first lessons. By Vasari's own account, he was first placed with Michelangelo in Florence (although this story is disputed), and after Michelangelo's departure for Rome, he was apprenticed to both Andrea del Sarto and Baccio Bandinelli. He also studied with two Medici offspring--Ippolito and Alessandro--the latter of whom was assassinated in 1537, dashing young Giorgio's early hopes for steady patronage. During these formative years, Vasari became close friends with Pontormo's best student, Rosso Florentino, as well as with Francesco Salviati.

Between the assassination of Duke Alessandro and the publication of the first edition of the Lives in 1550 (known in the critical literature on Vasari as the Torrentino edition), Vasari slowly built his reputation as an artist, working in various Italian cities. In 1541, he travelled to Venice, and by the time he had returned home, he had encountered the works of Giulio Romano, Correggio, and Titian. Back in Rome around 1543, Paolo Giovio (1483-1552), an important . . .

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