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Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Giorgio Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghib Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Giorgio Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, and Masaccio, before discussing the mature period of perfection, dominated by the titanic figures of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.This specially commissioned translation contains thirty-six of the most important lives as well as an introduction and explanatory notes.About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.


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Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Giorgio Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghib Packed with facts, attributions, and entertaining anecdotes about his contemporaries, Giorgio Vasari's collection of biographical accounts also presents a highly influential theory of the development of Renaissance art.Beginning with Cimabue and Giotto, who represent the infancy of art, Vasari considers the period of youthful vigour, shaped by Donatello, Brunelleschi, Ghiberti, and Masaccio, before discussing the mature period of perfection, dominated by the titanic figures of Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo.This specially commissioned translation contains thirty-six of the most important lives as well as an introduction and explanatory notes.About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

30 review for The Lives of the Artists

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ted

    This 2005 Dover edition is an abridged version of a 1967 two volume edition of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, often called today Lives of the Artists, or just “Vasari’s Lives”. The translation used is that of Mrs. Jonathan Foster (1851). The artists included are Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian. These eight artists are covered in less than 250 pages. Of the eight lives, that of Michelan This 2005 Dover edition is an abridged version of a 1967 two volume edition of Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, often called today Lives of the Artists, or just “Vasari’s Lives”. The translation used is that of Mrs. Jonathan Foster (1851). The artists included are Giotto, Masaccio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian. These eight artists are covered in less than 250 pages. Of the eight lives, that of Michelangelo takes up over 100 pages. In the review, I'll use the book’s shortest chapter, on Sandro Botticelli, for examples. Strengths The book is extremely interesting, in parts. When the work was first published in Florence in 1550, Michelangelo and Titian were still living, and Botticelli, Leonardo, and Raphael had all died only 30-40 years previously. (The earliest of these artists, Giotto, had died in 1337, over two centuries prior to Vasari's work.) To read the views of these artists' lives and works written by someone this close in time to them, someone who was himself immersed in the culture of the Italian Renaissance, can be intoxicating. There’s no doubt of the historic importance of the book. It was the first history of art ever written, and though it only treated Italian art (and even there tended to favor somewhat chauvinistically Florentine artists), the Introduction to the book makes many favorable points about it. The minute descriptions of hundreds of works of art, though elementary, “laid the groundwork” for many of the elements of art history – “the development of compositional structure and the manipulation of color, the analysis of the meaning of changes in style and subject matter” - which were to be taken up by later historians. (view spoiler)[Though my edition does not specifically credit the Introduction to anyone, I assume it was written by the editor of the 1967 edition, and eminent art historian, Marilyn Aronberg Lavin. (hide spoiler)] And the prominence of Lives in the title, instead of something like “works”, or “paintings”, points to one of its strengths: not only do we read short biographies of the artists as introductions to each essay, but more biographical data appears repeatedly throughout. This is still a feature of modern popular articles or books on artists. (As distinct from thick academic books on art history, which focus more on the art than the artist, if I can put it that way.) For example, in the 8 page chapter on Botticelli, we read that Botticelli had been paid a large sum for the paintings he executed in the recently built Sistine Chapel in the early 1480s. Vasari continuesbut this [sum] he consumed and squandered totally during his residence in Rome, where he lived without due care, as was his habit. Having completed the work assigned to him, he returned at once to Florence, where, being whimsical and eccentric, he occupied himself with commenting on a certain part of Dante, illustrating the Inferno and executing prints, over which he wasted much time; and neglecting his proper occupation, he did no work, and thereby caused infinite disorder in his affairs.Finally, each chapter is illustrated with a plate (unattributed). For Botticelli, we have this. Weaknesses Here’s one of the paintings, actually a large fresco, that Botticelli did in the Sistine Chapel. The Temptations of Christ (1480-82) 345×555 cm (136×219 in) Vasari refers to this work as “The Temptation of Christ in the Wilderness’. Since the fresco obviously shows (on the left, center and right of the upper part) the three Biblical temptations, one might wonder whether Vasari ever saw the fresco, or had forgot what he’d seen when he wrote. This example illustrates that, in trying to look up a painting described or named by Vasari, it can be confusing to figure out what he’s referring to - unless you’re reading an edition in which the translator has done this work for the reader, or perhaps an editor has added an explanatory note. Another problem is again related to our modern views of these Renaissance works of art, and is also illustrated in the Botticelli article. Here are probably the two most famous paintings (now) by Botticelli. The Birth of Venus (mid 1480s) 172x279 cm (68×110 in) Primavera (~1482) 202×314 cm (80×124 in) And here’s what Vasari says of them:For different houses in various parts of [Florence], Sandro painted many pictures of a round form, with numerous figures of women undraped. Of these there are still two examples at Castello, a villa of the Duke Cosimo, one representing the birth of Venus, who is borne to earth by the Loves and Zephyrs: the second also representing the figure of Venus crowned with flowers by the Graces; she is here intended to denote the Spring, and the allegory is expressed by the painter with extraordinary grace.That’s it. But, not only is this description quite unlikely to convey anything useful to a reader about what the paintings actually look like, but the way the first sentence reads, it seems to imply that the pictures are of a “round form”; or at best it’s ambiguous. In the increasingly secular centuries since Vasari wrote, these paintings have come to overshadow Botticelli’s other works - to such an extent that in the book I have of the history of art (History of Art), the author devotes all four pages on Botticelli to nothing but these paintings. And what he says about them is immensely interesting. Finally, the last problem I had with this book is that Vasari gives many long (long!) lists of art works described in (excruciating) detail, that I found pretty boring to read, especially since the book (not surprisingly) contained no pictures of the art. My personal verdict The first of the above weaknesses is perhaps excusable; the second is certainly hard to blame Vasari for; and the third could be helped quite a bit by a copiously illustrated edition. It’s likely the case that most every professional art historian has their own copy of Vasari; but it would be used as a reference book, not pleasure reading. For the modern reader interested in Renaissance art, Vasari’s Lives is probably not the best choice. But still … that gossipy, judgmental, perhaps even inaccurate personal stuff about the artists can be very interesting, and, yes, pleasurable to read. One just has to be prepared to skip or skim when the going gets tough. Not a good history of art – but still a worthwhile recounting of the Lives of the artists. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Previous review: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Random review: Samuel Johnson Is Indignant Lydia Davis short fiction Next review: Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. Two B Previous library review: Pablo Picasso a retrospective Next library review: Cathedral The Story of Its Construction

  2. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    Men of genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea that they subsequently express with their hands. ― Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects I normally don't gravitate towards abridged books, but Vasari's 'The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects' is a book that needs to be: 1) read by art history experts in its entirety (2000+ pag Men of genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea that they subsequently express with their hands. ― Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects I normally don't gravitate towards abridged books, but Vasari's 'The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects' is a book that needs to be: 1) read by art history experts in its entirety (2000+ pages), 2) picked through periodically, like an encyclopedic “Garden of Delights”, 3) read abridged, in a version that focuses on the Renaissance's best (Vasari was interested in distinguishing the better from the good and the best from the better). My time here is limited. I only have so much time for the good. In my brief life here I want to hang with the Gods not with the minor prophets. I want Michelangelo not Niccolò Soggi. Sorry Niccolò. The Modern Library/Gaston du C. de Vere translation, was a great version. It had all the Teenage Ninja Mutant Renaissance artists, but still provided plenty of architects, sculptures and painters that I was either completely uninformed about or lacked much knowledge. Vasari has a natural narrative momentum, even if he does sometimes lose his narrative genius when he's consumed with listing and describing all of an artists works. It is a fine balancing act, to try and describe the artists' life, work, and importance and make the essay complete, without making the piece a laundry list of oil and marble. One final note. This is one of those books that seems destined to become an amazing hypertext book or app. There were times while reading it I wished I was reading a digital copy that would provide links to pictures, blue prints, smoothly rotating statues, etc. What I wanted was a through the looking-glass, artist's version of The Elements app by Theodore Gray. I want a multiverse of art, history, maps and blueprints. I want to fall into a hypertext of Renaissance Florence and Rome. Audiobooks or paper just fail to do justice to this beautiful subject.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bibliomysterious BAM

    I think I’m actually reading the unabridged version, which is sooooo much longer than this version.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    An artist lives and acquires fame through his works; but with the passing of time, which consumes everything, these works—the first, then the second, and the third—fade away. After Plutarch’s Lives, Vasari’s Lives of the Artists is likely the most iconic collection of biographies of famous men. He published two editions of the book, the first in 1550, the second in 1568; and both found success in Vasari’s lifetime and have continued to sell well ever since. In life Vasari was a typical Renais An artist lives and acquires fame through his works; but with the passing of time, which consumes everything, these works—the first, then the second, and the third—fade away. After Plutarch’s Lives, Vasari’s Lives of the Artists is likely the most iconic collection of biographies of famous men. He published two editions of the book, the first in 1550, the second in 1568; and both found success in Vasari’s lifetime and have continued to sell well ever since. In life Vasari was a typical Renaissance man, achieving fame for his paintings (he decorated the Palazzo Vecchio) and his architecture (he was responsible for the loggia of the Uffizi), in addition to his work as a biographer. Granted, his paintings are not highly regarded nowadays (though many are pleasing enough to my eyes); but this posthumous verdict did not prevent him from making a fine living. And when you write the first book of art history in the history of art, the rest hardly matters. The edition I own is highly abridged, as are nearly all popular versions, since the original contains dozens upon dozens of painters, sculptors, and architects—most of whom the casual reader does not know of or care for. This explains why most of the Lives are so short. Indeed, fans of any particular Renaissance artist are liable to be disappointed by Vasari’s treatment. He runs through Sandro Botticelli in all of ten pages, for example, barely pausing to mention the Birth of Venus. Indeed, many of these biographies are hardly biographies at all, just extended catalogues of works. This is certainly useful for the art historian (though Vasari made many mistakes) but it does not make for electrifying reading. The modern psychoanalyzing mode of artistic biographies was, of course, entirely alien to Vasari, and he seems to regard the artist’s personality as a source of gossip but not of insight. This does not prevent him from including many good stories. Like Plutarch himself, Vasari is rich in anecdote—and, as in Plutarch, half of them are probably false. Fact or fiction, however, a good story is preferable to a dry fact. We hear of Cimabue agreeing to take on Giotto as a pupil, after seeing the young boy scratching on a stone; or of Paolo Uccello staying up long nights to work on problems of perspective. Whether these stories help us to understand the paintings is doubtful; but they do help to bring alive this amazing time in history. Vasari begins the book with a sketch of the history of art as he understood it. His opinion is not a masterpiece of subtlety. In essence, the Greeks and Romans understood that art begins by copying nature, and so produced excellent works; then art fell into barbarism (Vasari coined the term “gothic” to describe medieval art) in which the ancient knowledge was lost and artists had no knowledge of proper technique; finally the painter Giotto came and revived the arts, inaugurating a process that culminated in the works of Michelangelo. I must say that this view, though little more than naked prejudice, is at least refreshing in Vasari’s conviction that art was ascending and culminating in his own epoch. (Most of us are disposed to think it is declining.) It is striking that Michelangelo’s historic importance was understood even during his own lifetime. This was not an age of poor Van Goghs working in lonely shacks. The great artists were recognized and rewarded when they lived; and younger artists were seen to have surpassed their masters—novel concepts in our romantic age. The Life of Michelangelo, whom Vasari knew and worshipped, is by far the longest and forms the core of this collection. Indeed, all the other lives can be seen as mere leadup to the great Florentine, who fulfils all the promise of former ages. Vasari here turns from chronicler to hagiographer, praising Michelangelo with every breath. You might even say that Vasari turns into quite the Boswell, including various bits of Michelangelo’s conversation, and also several letters written to him by the great artist, as if to prove that Michelangelo really was his friend. All this makes for good reading, even if the worshipful tone is grating. The second longest Life in my collection is that of another Florentine (Vasari was a fierce patriot of his home city), Filippo Brunelleschi. This life is perhaps even better than that of Michelangelo, as Vasari charts the squabbles and drama behind the scenes of Brunelleschi’s dome. Vasari’s style is easygoing and almost conversational, and the pages go by quickly. He strikes me as a man full of shallow opinions but of a generous mind and a steady judgment. This book—full of errors, lacking any historical context, and greatly out of step with modern opinion—could hardly be read as a standalone volume on Renaissance painting. But every book on the subject borrows, knowingly or unknowingly, from Vasari, who has given bread to scholars and delight to readers for generations with this charming book. I have endeavored not only to record what the artists have done but to distinguish between the good, the better, and the best, and to note with some care the methods, manners, styles, behavior, and ideas of the painters and sculptors; I have tried as well as I know how to help people who cannot find out for themselves to understand the sources and origins of various styles, and the reasons for the improvement or decline of the arts at various times and among different people.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nick Grammos

    Vasari is right to gush I dip into Vasari now and then for various reasons. So I’ve read the lives of the artists over the years in pieces, never from start to end. I think I found my copy back in 1983 when I was studying the Renaissance by correspondence for high school. My new little outer suburban school was small and didn’t offer many subjects and lacked an academic drive. It was a big mistake to take it because I needed to hear things like Vasari’s words uttered by someone in person who love Vasari is right to gush I dip into Vasari now and then for various reasons. So I’ve read the lives of the artists over the years in pieces, never from start to end. I think I found my copy back in 1983 when I was studying the Renaissance by correspondence for high school. My new little outer suburban school was small and didn’t offer many subjects and lacked an academic drive. It was a big mistake to take it because I needed to hear things like Vasari’s words uttered by someone in person who loved art as much as Vasari. I dropped out, though I’ll say in my defence that distance learning has improved since then. Though I still love the historical period and reflect on it regardless of my non-academic achievement. I just read the quoted passage below and thought what a significant moment it expresses, both in the work of Michelangelo’s Pieta that it describes and the ideas of the time it expresses. I realised that this was one of those moments in history when the observation of the human replaced the devotion to the divine in our thinking. Human endeavour in art had come so far, the technical and imaginary capability of the artist stands supreme. But Vasari says it better, even though he’s quite an articulate gusher. https://images.gr-assets.com/photos/1... ”For the Pieta was a revelation of all the potentialities and force of the art of the sculptor. Among the many beautiful features (including the inspired draperies) this is notably demonstrated by the body of Christ himself. It would be impossible to find a body showing greater mastery of art and possessing more beautiful members, or a nude with more detail in the muscles, veins, and nerves stretched over their framework of bones, or a more deathly corpse. The lovely expression of the head, the harmony in the joints and attachment of the arms, legs and trunk and the fine tracery of pulses and veins are all so wonderful that it staggers belief that the hand of an artist could have executed this inspired and admirable work so perfectly and in so short a time. It is certainly a miracle that a formless block of stone could ever have been reduced to a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh. Michelangelo put into his work so much love and effort that (something he never did again) he left his name written across the sash over Our Lady’s breast.” So I thought I’d share this wonderful excerpt. I copied it all out so I could feel the words as I wrote them. Note how Vasari so clearly values the mastery of a man over nature in this work a perfection that nature is scarcely able to create in the flesh The focus is solely on the human, even to the point that he believes it’s fitting for the artist to sign over the breast of the mother of Christ. The artist choses to level himself with the divine. Or brings the mother back to her human origins. She’s far too beautiful here to be just a god, since beauty is something that seems to pre-occupy we mortals. After all she is mourning her son and a member of the holy trinity. As mother of Christ, as I understand it, Mary was venerated since 431 at the council of Ephesus. The church has a whole culture of veneration that seems to place her among the divine. So, her appearance in the Pieta places her between the human and divine (perhaps I should’ve continued my study). https://images.gr-assets.com/photos/1... Vasari’s publishing of these pages is in itself a significant statement of historical change. Art is now seen in a new way; old paradigms were broken through. One day I will work out how to add a picture to the text.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Castles

    When you hold this book on your hand (or in your Kindle!), just remember what a privilege it is to google every artist while reading the chapters and seeing the beautiful art Vasari is writing about. a privilege deprived of generations of people reading this old book in the past, who could only guess what the works he describes actually looked like. Giotto’s perfect O, Brunelleschi challenging competitive architects on how to balance an egg, Raphael convincing the pope to give Michelangelo the j When you hold this book on your hand (or in your Kindle!), just remember what a privilege it is to google every artist while reading the chapters and seeing the beautiful art Vasari is writing about. a privilege deprived of generations of people reading this old book in the past, who could only guess what the works he describes actually looked like. Giotto’s perfect O, Brunelleschi challenging competitive architects on how to balance an egg, Raphael convincing the pope to give Michelangelo the job to paint the vault of the Sistine Chapel in hope he would fail, only to end up creating the best painting in history... whether true or not, these anecdotes are now magical myths going through the generations, and I loved the way is romantically writing about. Not just a collection of biographies, Vasari is surprisingly a good storyteller as well, finding the connections and continuity between the artists and along the years and the development in the arts. This book took me a relatively long time to finish. It is far from neutral and Vasari’s judgment is sometimes obviously (more on that in the film I recommend at the end of this review). Of course, it can get boring at times when reading of an artist you never heard about and going through long passages on his work, and from what I understand, this edited version doesn’t even include all the artists he wrote about. but the language (or translation) is surprisingly fluent for a book almost 500 years old, and one shouldn’t forget that Vasari had almost no art history source to study from or professional methods of writing about art to follow. For all this and more, the importance of this book cannot be stressed enough. I strongly recommend to watch along with this book the wonderful bbc documentary of Andrew graham Dixon - “travels with Vasari”, which will give you an extra dimension to understand his accomplishment, and is served with the passionate and fun way of mr. Dixon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tau

    Didn't hate it, didn't love it. It felt repetitive after the 200th page and it became more about finishing rather than learning about Renaissance artists. Didn't hate it, didn't love it. It felt repetitive after the 200th page and it became more about finishing rather than learning about Renaissance artists.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth Mayfield-House

    My undergraduate degree is in Art History so I've read my fair share of Art History books. It was interesting to me the way he presented artists which was very different than any Art History book I've ever read. Most Modern Art Historians tell you why the artist is important and what he or she did for art but I've never heard it said that this artist's work was so beautiful that you wonder if he is human or if his hand was touched by God -- That's how Vasari presents the artists. He puts a lot o My undergraduate degree is in Art History so I've read my fair share of Art History books. It was interesting to me the way he presented artists which was very different than any Art History book I've ever read. Most Modern Art Historians tell you why the artist is important and what he or she did for art but I've never heard it said that this artist's work was so beautiful that you wonder if he is human or if his hand was touched by God -- That's how Vasari presents the artists. He puts a lot of his own opinion in the biography of these artists and their works. I really enjoyed reading his opinion because by the third artist I realized that sometimes Vasari's opinion of what was great art was completely different than my own opinions. It made me think that maybe it's because so much has happened in art through the centuries that time and modernism may have changed the way we look at art. It was very interesting. I even read all of the biography of Michalangelo even though he wasn't my favorite artist to begin with, Vasari loved him so much that I think I like Michaelangelo better now. I also re-discovered some artists such as Antonio da Corregio and Andrea Mantegna, who I forgot about, though I do not know why.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    I was hoping a bit more from this ancient gossip. Alas! Vasari was not the best of writers. He shows great favoritism to certain artists and a lot of the information was inaccurate. A few interesting stories though I liked hearing of the decoration of the old church. I also have a fascination with Ludovico Ariosto and was interested in the bit about him and Titan. I looked up many of these works online so I could get an idea of what he was describing and felt that some of his descriptions either I was hoping a bit more from this ancient gossip. Alas! Vasari was not the best of writers. He shows great favoritism to certain artists and a lot of the information was inaccurate. A few interesting stories though I liked hearing of the decoration of the old church. I also have a fascination with Ludovico Ariosto and was interested in the bit about him and Titan. I looked up many of these works online so I could get an idea of what he was describing and felt that some of his descriptions either did not to the work justice or exaggerated features that I found lacking in quality. Still he was one of the earliest to compile information about the renaissance artists and we are lucky to have any writings of these men from a contemporary.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emma Iadanza

    I absolutely love the Renaissance. The history, the art, the literature, everything. I find it fascinating and amazing. And windows into the history, like this book, are amazing. And, indeed, this book was wonderful. Vasari was architect to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici- he built the Uffizi gallery, the Vasari Corridor, and did various paintings and such, including the interior of the Duomo and also some portrait. I personally do not love all of his art. In any case, he was also the first art historia I absolutely love the Renaissance. The history, the art, the literature, everything. I find it fascinating and amazing. And windows into the history, like this book, are amazing. And, indeed, this book was wonderful. Vasari was architect to Duke Cosimo I de' Medici- he built the Uffizi gallery, the Vasari Corridor, and did various paintings and such, including the interior of the Duomo and also some portrait. I personally do not love all of his art. In any case, he was also the first art historian, and I highly respect that. He spent a lot of time going around looking for information for this book of his. And I'm very grateful - because some of the little anecdotes he wrote in here are hilarious. It was quite amusing. But th ecomplete thing is so intensely long (some 2000 pages I believe in full) that people never print it in its entirety! Thus I've spent months looking for a good edition - I have one that's falling apart that I bought in Rome, and every time I open it I have an allergy attack. And then I found this edition at Strand in Manhattan. It's pretty old (and out of print), but it has a good selection of the artists that I like. The introduction was good and the translation was easily legible. In any case, you have to take the rest of the book with a grain of salt. He gets a lot of his dates and details wrong - either that, or he was just really bad at math (which I slightly doubt). His ideas on the origins of art are fascinating. His writing style was just fine - but I forgive him because it's a translation, and he was an artist not a philosopher. But each Life follows a formula - general statement + list of everything the artist has ever done + cute anecdotes about their life. I expected it to be more of a biography than a catalog. But ... sometimes he contradicts himself and it annoys me. For example - "Giotto was the best artist ever!" and then 50 pages later "Giotto was horrible, he got everything wrong." Also, he sometimes spoke in the 3rd person about himself, which I found weird. (He also doted so much on Michelangelo that I had to skip half of that section because I couldn't stand it anymore.) My favorite life, by far, was that of Brunelleschi. It was very amusing. In any case - I highly suggest this book to anyone who even remotely likes Renaissance art. It is fun and amusing - and you can choose to read only a few of the selections, rather than the whole thing !

  11. 5 out of 5

    AB

    Overall, I quite enjoyed the varied lives depicted by Vasari. However, the more impactful point that I took from this book is Vasari's theories on the development of art. His prefaces are slightly long winded but they are the parts in which he sets forth his idea of the decline of art and it's eventual rebirth from Cimabue to Titian. My only issues with the book are centred around the translators. I normally don't have an issue with an older style of English but I honestly found this translation Overall, I quite enjoyed the varied lives depicted by Vasari. However, the more impactful point that I took from this book is Vasari's theories on the development of art. His prefaces are slightly long winded but they are the parts in which he sets forth his idea of the decline of art and it's eventual rebirth from Cimabue to Titian. My only issues with the book are centred around the translators. I normally don't have an issue with an older style of English but I honestly found this translation irksome and incredibly long winded at points. Phrases could have easily been updated by the editor. There is no translators note so I'm not aware of whether or not this is a special or famous translation. It's such a shame because I was loving the narratives. Besides this the editor provided good footnotes but bizzarely did not include any for Vasari's descriptions of the Academy of Florence. He obviously put a lot of effort into the 200+ pages for the other parts of the book and I sorely missed it in this part.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I read most of this when I was in college, studying art history. For fun. And maybe to impress my professor because I was taking a survey course of Italian Renaissance art. I got the 4 volume set from the library and read the whole first volume, parts of the 2nd and 3rd and the pretty much all of volume 4 which was almost entirely about Michelangelo because Vasari was one of his BFF's. It's fun if you're into art history or if you're interested in totally non-objective information on art and arti I read most of this when I was in college, studying art history. For fun. And maybe to impress my professor because I was taking a survey course of Italian Renaissance art. I got the 4 volume set from the library and read the whole first volume, parts of the 2nd and 3rd and the pretty much all of volume 4 which was almost entirely about Michelangelo because Vasari was one of his BFF's. It's fun if you're into art history or if you're interested in totally non-objective information on art and artists.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pavel

    Bible of Renaissance Art lovers. Written by Giorgio Vasari who was an artist himself and lived roughly few decades after main renaissance events (that's why a lot of evidences and judgements from "The lives of the Artists" are disputed by modern specialists). The book is structured as a collection of biographic stories with a strong emphasis on concrete works of art that Vasari saw himself and his impressions on those. As I understand, as a Florentine Vasari showed whole renaissance art scene wi Bible of Renaissance Art lovers. Written by Giorgio Vasari who was an artist himself and lived roughly few decades after main renaissance events (that's why a lot of evidences and judgements from "The lives of the Artists" are disputed by modern specialists). The book is structured as a collection of biographic stories with a strong emphasis on concrete works of art that Vasari saw himself and his impressions on those. As I understand, as a Florentine Vasari showed whole renaissance art scene with a strong accent of that city, but even if so I haven't found some great artist of the period I adore who wasn't present in the book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    This is my first candidate for the "what if you were marooned on a desert island" list. This is my first candidate for the "what if you were marooned on a desert island" list.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Withun

    -

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bert Bruins

    Expecting a somewhat dry book from a 16th Century Italian author, this was easier and more enjoyable to read than I expected. Rather than being formalistic and pompous, this book is full of saucy and funny anecdotes about the Renaissance artists that preceded Vasari, some of whom he knew personally. The classical roll-call that we know, from Cimabue to Giotto, via Ucello, Bruneleschi, Ghiberti to da Vinci and Michelangelo is often atrributed to Vasari and this is probably correct. However, Vasar Expecting a somewhat dry book from a 16th Century Italian author, this was easier and more enjoyable to read than I expected. Rather than being formalistic and pompous, this book is full of saucy and funny anecdotes about the Renaissance artists that preceded Vasari, some of whom he knew personally. The classical roll-call that we know, from Cimabue to Giotto, via Ucello, Bruneleschi, Ghiberti to da Vinci and Michelangelo is often atrributed to Vasari and this is probably correct. However, Vasari has also been accused of being the cause of the traditional neglect of the Northern Renaissance (Flemish, German and Scandinavian art), but this seems unfair having read Vasari's work. He is clearly intent on writing about the artists of Florence and Tuscany with the occasional foray to Mantua, Rome and Venice where it can't be avoided. I found two mentions of German artists (Duerer being one of them), and these were respectful references, just not part of what he set himself out to do. To my surprise in the introduction Vasari blames the so-called Dark Ages that followed the Roman Empire not just on invading barbarians (Goths, Vandals and Lombards), but also on the narrowminded, bigoted Christian church of the 5th and 6th Century (covered in greater depth in Catherine Nixey's "The Darkening Age"). I would have thought that such an opinion was enough to get one hung, drawn and quartered in Vasari's time, but apparently not so. It was interesting to read that Vasari describes several of the artists as having been unteachable and wild in their youth, to the despair of their parents, who then palmed them off on nearby goldsmiths or artist studios, and the rest is history. Now we appear to give such children Ritalin and say they suffer from ADHD.... Some progress! This book is most enjoyable for its anecdotes and interesting snippets of information, such as that Michelangelo's magnificent David statue was cut out of a large block of marble messed up by another sculptor, and that was just sitting around because of the mess-up. Or that pope Julius II hit Michelangelo with a stick at one point and threatened to have him "fall" of his scaffolds if he didn't hurry up.... (It took me a little while to realise that when Julius II commissions Michelangelo to paint frescos for the "hall of Sixtus" he is talking about the famous Sistine Chapel). I was myself lucky enough to see the Sistine Chapel aged 15 on a school trip as well as the "Pieta" in St Peter's (she looks "too young" said a contemporary critic about the marble version of Mary with the body of Jesus in her arms...). This is well worth reading if you're interested in the history of European art.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Anu

    More about artists than art, this book is a fascinating compendium of artists over a 250 year period, documenting how they worked and lived. While there are some curious vignettes of artists illustrating their eccentricity and passion, the parts of the book I loved beat were the parts where Vasari describes the artists’ love of art. How it moves, occupies and elevates artists in powerful ways. Any crafts person, including those of us in technology is likely to find this touching and inspirationa More about artists than art, this book is a fascinating compendium of artists over a 250 year period, documenting how they worked and lived. While there are some curious vignettes of artists illustrating their eccentricity and passion, the parts of the book I loved beat were the parts where Vasari describes the artists’ love of art. How it moves, occupies and elevates artists in powerful ways. Any crafts person, including those of us in technology is likely to find this touching and inspirational. I sure wish the book had actual illustrations to go with descriptions of the artists’ work. Also, it was a bonus to learn that the author was an artist himself, that lived during the time of Michelangelo! Cool read overall.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    i just love to see ye olde man pop off at each other about pigment sourcing, sexual proclivities, and noble patrons. it always manages to be hilarious, informative, and puts matters into perspective considering that few but the very haute academic care today if Luigi Bruccio or somesuch lad preferred to play catcher rather than pitcher.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This book is chock full of information of the artists of the Renaissance. I only read sections of it, mostly pertaining to artists whose work I had recently seen on a trip to Florence. It's a bit dry, as in, the artist was born, he did this, then he did that, then he died. It does give a good look at how the artists were perceived in their lifetimes for those who are truly invested in this topic. This book is chock full of information of the artists of the Renaissance. I only read sections of it, mostly pertaining to artists whose work I had recently seen on a trip to Florence. It's a bit dry, as in, the artist was born, he did this, then he did that, then he died. It does give a good look at how the artists were perceived in their lifetimes for those who are truly invested in this topic.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zoë🔮

    (Read the introduction and first book, but i’m counting it haha)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rose Eccua

    This book is very amazing!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Someone left a copy of this book in my apartment in Florence, and since I didn't bring that much reading material with me, I've been reading it in bits and pieces throughout the last few weeks. If you ever plan to visit Florence, Italy, read this book before you go. Knowing some information about the artists, their methods, their contemporaries, and their intentions can help make the mountains of Renaissance art here more meaningful (and less likely to start to blur together after a couple of the Someone left a copy of this book in my apartment in Florence, and since I didn't bring that much reading material with me, I've been reading it in bits and pieces throughout the last few weeks. If you ever plan to visit Florence, Italy, read this book before you go. Knowing some information about the artists, their methods, their contemporaries, and their intentions can help make the mountains of Renaissance art here more meaningful (and less likely to start to blur together after a couple of the museums). Vasari errs on the side of praising, at least in the chapters that I've read, and he loves Michaelangelo almost to a fault, but since he was once signed up to be an assistant to Michaelangelo, his bias also lends credence to some of his claims. There are even points that were disputed after the first edition of the book that are corrected along the lines of "I asked Michaelangelo about this, and he said that..." I found Vasari's narratives helped me to put two and two together in artistic developments that are scattered across several cathedrals and museums--so it's easier to see the influence between the paintings in this chapel and the painting done somewhere else later. This is best paired with some internet image searches or books on Renaissance art if you're not already familiar with the field, but that's probably not strictly necessary. I found some parts of the book pretty boring if I didn't know the piece Vasari was talking about.

  23. 4 out of 5

    manatee

    I found this book boring when I tried to read it in Texas, but utterly fascinating and indispensable when I read it in my hotel room in Florence. It really helped make my vacation in Florence meaningful since I spent four days staring up at art filled cathedral ceilings. Vasari is really just a big gossip,but he really does put things in perspective. (Pun intended). He talks about who squandered his money on his terrible wife and who drank a lot ,but he talks about how Cimabue and Giotto started I found this book boring when I tried to read it in Texas, but utterly fascinating and indispensable when I read it in my hotel room in Florence. It really helped make my vacation in Florence meaningful since I spent four days staring up at art filled cathedral ceilings. Vasari is really just a big gossip,but he really does put things in perspective. (Pun intended). He talks about who squandered his money on his terrible wife and who drank a lot ,but he talks about how Cimabue and Giotto started a new way of seeing things and recovered the art of the past,as well. I discovered this work by accident and am very glad that I did, as it is the bible of Italian renaissance art biography. I learned SO much when I remembered to take my copy along with me to the museums and cathedrals of Florence. Without my trusted friend Vasari,the beautiful art of Florence might have been one gorgeous ,but bewildering jumble. A really necessary book for ANYONE going to Florence.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tinytextiles

    This is a book for those interested in the artists of the Italian Renaissance. I have only read about one of the artists--Perugino--whose later paintings are more to my liking for this period of mostly religious work. Vasari's Lives provides a lot of interesting details of the paintings and the artist.My recommendation is to read only one chapter of an artist a month. You will need to refer to the Web sites for pictures of the paintings. This is a book for those interested in the artists of the Italian Renaissance. I have only read about one of the artists--Perugino--whose later paintings are more to my liking for this period of mostly religious work. Vasari's Lives provides a lot of interesting details of the paintings and the artist.My recommendation is to read only one chapter of an artist a month. You will need to refer to the Web sites for pictures of the paintings.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    Gave up a mere 2 chapters in. It is very difficult to read about a whole catalogue of paintings when you don't have the pictures in front of you. I may dip into this again as I come across the artists described on my History of Art course. Gave up a mere 2 chapters in. It is very difficult to read about a whole catalogue of paintings when you don't have the pictures in front of you. I may dip into this again as I come across the artists described on my History of Art course.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura Localio

    I read this in college while taking a Renaissance History Course. It was a bit of a difficult read (for me at least), but interesting if you like historical info about art.

  27. 4 out of 5

    latner3

    A great book to delve into whether you have a love of Italian Renaissance Art or not.An exceptional read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Listened to the Naxos abridged audio version

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

    “The best way [to be informed about Leonardo and his contemporaries] will be to read their Lives, done by Vasari.” “O listen to the malignant Vasari, he says that the rivals of Titian were not men of valor when these … all … were painters of great importance.” About Vasari himself we know an extraordinary amount, not only from his own writings—in the edition of 1568 he included an explanation of his own life and works—but also from surviving materials that document his life at the court of Cosimo “The best way [to be informed about Leonardo and his contemporaries] will be to read their Lives, done by Vasari.” “O listen to the malignant Vasari, he says that the rivals of Titian were not men of valor when these … all … were painters of great importance.” About Vasari himself we know an extraordinary amount, not only from his own writings—in the edition of 1568 he included an explanation of his own life and works—but also from surviving materials that document his life at the court of Cosimo I and his eventful exchanges with so many of the patrons and literati of the period. He was born in Arezzo, on 30 July 1511, the first of six children of Antonio di Giorgio Vasari and Maddelena Tacci. Antonio, as Vasari put it in a letter to a friend, was a deprived citizen and artisan but he married well and he was able to provide Vasari with his first schooling in Arezzo and some instruction in art from the French glass painter Guillaume de Marçillat who was working then in the Cathedral. But in 1524, when he was 13 years old, Vasari was taken to Florence by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, if not a quite notorious character, where he continued his formal education under Pierio Valeriano, tutor to the two young members of the Medici family, Alessandro and Ippolito; he studied also in the workshops of Andrea del Sarto and Baccio Bandinelli. This was a beginning; and if for a short time, after the unexpected death of his father in 1527, he was forced to work for goldsmiths to make much-needed money—an experience he found disgraceful to recall—he was set now on a professional course that, if all went well, could assure him success, as he put it, both through his efforts and energy and also, as we can see, from the contacts he had made with patrons, famous and less famous, individuals like Bindo Altoviti or Sforza Almeni—it was the latter, as ducal chamberlain, who would help Vasari’s progression at the court—or religious groups like the Compagnia del Gesù in Cortona or then in Rome with patrons like the Farnese or the popes Julius III and Pius V and then lastly in Florence with Duke Cosimo I, into whose service in 1554 he entered with an annual stipend of 300 ducats. On trips to Rome and Venice, Vasari saw work by the greatest artists of his age. He became interested in their lives and their influences, collected old drawings and studied ancient Roman art and architecture. Increasingly he began to build up ideas about the path from ancient art to modern. In 1550 he published his book Lives of the Artists – in full, Le Vite de’ Più Eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, ed Architettori (The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects). Biographies of artists had been published in the past; Vasari’s great innovation was a series of introductory articles describing the historical trends that his choice of artists illustrated. With the publication of his book, Vasari became the world’s first art historian. There is Vasari the painter, Vasari the architect and courtier, Vasari the academician and, last but not least, Vasari the author whose name—and we have to consider carefully what this claim means—appears on the title page of his text, Le vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori e scultori, published first in 1550 and then again in 1568 in an enlarged edition. He broke his history down into three stages: a) the classical period of Roman antiquity, a high point; b) the decline of art thereafter in the Dark Ages; and c) its rebirth from the 14th century onward, thanks to Cimabue and Giotto, culminating in the genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. At the time, his friend and teacher Michelangelo was the only living artist included in the encyclopaedia. A second, expanded edition appeared in 1568, which included more living artists and even some from Venice. This version, extensively translated, remains the stencil for biographical encyclopedias to this day. The first English translation was a short plagiarised version, published in 1685 and presented as William Aglionby’s own work under the title Painting Illustrated in Three Dialogues. Aglionby did, however, add some German and English artists to the contents. Vasari was unquestionably biased supportive of Italian art, and especially Florentine art. In the first edition he did not include a single artist from Venice, Florence’s rival city-state. He was the first to use the word ‘Renaissance’ in a cultural context; and he also coined the term ‘Gothic Art’ in describing the creative resurgence of northern Europe. The biographies of earlier artists were rather poorly researched and have been much corrected by later art historians. But Vasari’s writing about the artists of the Renaissance is a rich resource, as are his descriptions of the artistic techniques of the day. His psychiatry of the growth of the Renaissance is still the accepted history of the period, even if modern scholars now allow that it happened not just in Vasari’s Rome and Florence but all through Europe.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marcos Augusto

    A series of artist biographies written by 16th-century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, which is considered "perhaps the most famous, and even today the most-read work of the older literature of art", "some of the Italian Renaissance's most influential writing on art", and "the first important book on art history". The writer Paolo Giovio expressed his desire to compose a treatise on contemporary artists at a party in the house of Cardinal Farnese, who asked Vasari to provide Giovio A series of artist biographies written by 16th-century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, which is considered "perhaps the most famous, and even today the most-read work of the older literature of art", "some of the Italian Renaissance's most influential writing on art", and "the first important book on art history". The writer Paolo Giovio expressed his desire to compose a treatise on contemporary artists at a party in the house of Cardinal Farnese, who asked Vasari to provide Giovio with as much relevant information as possible. Giovio instead yielded the project to Vasari. As the first Italian art historian, Vasari initiated the genre of an encyclopedia of artistic biographies that continues today. Vasari's work was first published in 1550 by Lorenzo Torrentino in Florence, and dedicated to Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. 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. The work has a consistent and notorious 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. John Symonds claimed in 1899 that, "It is clear that Vasari often wrote with carelessness, confusing dates and places, and taking no pains to verify the truth of his assertions" (in regards to Vasari's life of Nicola Pisano), while acknowledging that, despite these shortcomings, it is one of the basic sources for information on the Renaissance in Italy. Vasari's biographies are interspersed with amusing gossip. Many of his anecdotes have the ring of truth, although likely inventions. 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. 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 is widely considered a classic even today, though it is widely agreed that it must be supplemented by modern scientific research. Vasari includes a forty-two-page 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 de' Rossi. Vasari's Vite has been described as "by far the most influential single text for the history of Renaissance art" and "the most important work of Renaissance biography of artists". Its influence is situated mainly in three domains: as an example for contemporary and later biographers and art historians, as a defining factor in the view on the Renaissance and the role of Florence and Rome in it, and as a major source of information on the lives and works of early Renaissance artists from Italy.

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