THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE: FINE ARTS AND VOYAGES OF DISCOVERY
THE Italian Renaissance is one of the great periods in the history of art. Artists of the first rank were too numerous to mention each individually here, and there was a vast output of masterpieces. In the palace of the popes at Rome paintings by old masters that would command a high price to-day were actually erased to make room for new creations. Artistic sensibility was widespread through the population. Both Church and State were eager patrons and employers of the artists, and the public appreciated their genius. In short, "Art was the oxygen of Renaissance life."
An epoch in the history of art
The chief contemporary account of the biographies of the artists of the Italian Renaissance is their Lives by Vasari, himself an artist at the close of the movement. His work aimed to do for the Italian artists what Plutarch Lives had done for the great statesmen and generals of classical antiquity. Vasari tried to cover too vast a field to attain critical accuracy in all the details of the lives of his heroes, and even his art criticism has often not met with modern approval. Recent investigators have gone back of his biographical essays, most of which are after all secondary sources, to family and state papers containing original bits of biographical information which enable them to rectify dates in the artists' careers or to revise Vasari's estimates of their personalities. Frescoes and canvases have been scrutinized with the help of photography and microscope, and thus lost masterpieces have been rediscovered or it has been found that this painting has been incorrectly attributed to that artist. Vasari, nevertheless, remains the foundation upon which such superior historical