Biography: Giorgio Vasari
The most significant written source for the period's artistic history is his collection "Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects," published in 1568.
Giorgio Vasari, a Florentine architect, artist, and art historian, will soon become a household name among those interested in Renaissance art. The most significant written source for the period's artistic history is his collection "Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects," published in 1568. Many of the most prominent artists of 16th-century Italy were among his friends and acquaintances. His circle included many friends who had known their predecessors in the fifteenth century.
The concept of the Renaissance is attributed to Vasari. He even coined the term "renaissance" (rebirth), which can be characterized as a revival of strict classicism and is characterized by two traits: acceptance of classical Greek and Roman aesthetics and the conviction that these ideals ought to serve as the fundamental framework for all artistic creation.
Vasari claimed that the Italian painter Giotto, who lived in the 14th century, started a "rebirth" of art. The developments in art that led to the Renaissance style a century later were influenced by Giotto's creations. The term was later expanded by Jules Michelet, a 19th-century French historian, to include artwork produced in Italy between the "quattrocento" (1400–1500) and "cinquecento" (1500–1600) periods. Vasari became a well-known artist theorist after articulating classicist principles in his "Lives"; his influence extended beyond the strict classicist school.
Period artists combined early medieval and classicist aesthetics. Others employed classical elements as tools to achieve the exceptional, refined realism seen during the late High Renaissance. Long after the Renaissance had come to an end, artists continued to work in these traditions. Vasari was a crucial source of theory for these semi-classicists. Vasari's importance as an artist is primarily disregarded, despite his stature. However, he was a painter by trade. His creative output was excellent but fell just short of genius. (Www.Theepochtimes.Com, 2022)
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The oldest of six children, Giorgio Vasari, was born in Tuscany's Arezzo region in 1511 to a middle-class family. Giorgio's artistic tendencies were passed down through the family generations to him. His great-grandfather, Lazzaro Vasari, was a multi-talented artist. He worked as a potter, saddle maker, miniature painter, and, later, under the influence of his teacher, Piero della Francesco, a fresco painter.
Giorgio was named after Vasari's grandfather, who was less of an all-arounder but was also a skilled potter like Antonio. Vasari had a special bond with his great uncle Luca Signorelli, who had served as a model for della Francesco's perspective drawings and lessons. Giorgio was a sickly child who suffered from frequent nosebleeds (possibly severe eczema). Vasari would relate the tale of Signorelli trying to stop nosebleeds by holding "a piece of red jasper to my neck with infinite tenderness," according to a folk remedy.
Vasari's early education was "unusually rich in classical studies," according to scholar Leon Satkowski, which would later support the artist's support for the classical foundations of the Italian Renaissance. By the age of twelve, Vasari could memorize lengthy passages from Virgil's Aeneid, regarded as a pillar of public education in Arezzo. Vasari also studied drawing with the French craftsman, stained glass artist, and panel painter Guillaume de Marcillat in Arezzo. Vasari would need to relocate to Florence, however, if he wanted to gain true expertise in art and architecture, despite being raised in a long line of artisans and receiving a high-quality early education.
Vasari left Arezzo in 1524 to begin an apprenticeship in Florence. Vasari's ties to the Medici family, an Italian banking and political dynasty at the time that was the most influential of all the patrons of the arts led to this opportunity. Silvio Passerini, Cardinal of Cortona, papal legate to Florence, and tutor to Medici heirs Ippolito and Alessandro, gave Vasari additional support. When Passerini came to Arezzo in 1523, the Cardinal invited the young Vasari to join him as an apprentice after being moved by the boy's recitation of the Aeneid and impressed by the promise shown in his drawings.
Vasari studied literature with the Medici heirs in Florence and received training in Michelangelo Buonarroti's workshop. Although Vasari's training with Michelangelo only lasted a few months, the revered master was impressed enough by the young student's talent to secure a spot for him in the studio of the painter Andrea del Sarto in 1525. Vasari disliked what he perceived as Lucrezia del Sarto's interference with the working environment in the studio and preferred the training he received from Michelangelo. Vasari soon left del Sarto's employ and briefly worked in the studio of the sculptor Baccio Bandinelli, whom Vasari eventually came to hate (and who he vilified in the 2nd edition of The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects).
The father of Vasari died from the plague in 1527. The 16-year-old assumed control over the family's financial management, and, out of necessity, he learned to be meticulous in his accounting. Though it was initially an unwelcome duty, the experience made him understand the financial security that having artistic standing could bring.
Vasari "set out early and deliberately to make himself an artist of influence," claims Satkowski, surrounding himself with eminent writers, architects, and artists and honing a keen eye for courting patrons. Vasari's Florentine friend and former classmate Ippolito de' Medici invited the artist to travel to Rome with him, Francesco Salviati, and the Medici group in 1531. Vasari thought of this period in Rome as his "golden age," when he and his associates would spend the day sketching and studying the ruins, statues, structures, and frescoes by Raphael and Michelangelo in the Vatican as well as other Roman artifacts. The Florentine painters' guild welcomed the young, 21-year-old Vasari a year later, and he would play a significant role in enhancing the guild's reputation. (The Art Story, n.d.)
Vasari published The Lives of the Most Eminent Sculptors, Painters, and Architects, also known as Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori, in 1550. In-depth biographies of well-known Renaissance artists were provided in the book, with a focus on Florentine art.
He received criticism for giving Tuscan painting too much weight, though. So, in 1568, he published a second volume of The Lives that featured the creations of well-known Venetian artists like Titian. One of the most read works of art literature today is "The Lives." It marked the beginning of art history as we currently understand it.
The Lives' first edition was published, and soon after, Vasari was the subject of a scandal. Vasari was not very popular because of his alleged arrogance and petulance. As a result, many people gave credence to rumors that he was spending carelessly and drinking excessively. They questioned whether The Lives was a reliable source because of his drinking habits.
He concluded that his only choice was to settle down and get married. Vasari married Nicolosa Bacci, a renowned apothecary's daughter from his hometown. In the past, Vasari had a clandestine relationship with her sister Maddelena, which gave birth to two bastard children. He wed Nicolosa not long after she passed away. Despite the two being said to have a loving relationship, many saw this as overtly strategic. (2022)
After being accepted into Duke Cosimo's court (in 1554), Vasari's architectural career took off. He created numerous structures and city plans for Cosimo and the Pope. He would also renovate church interiors, including Florence's Gothic Church of Santa Maria Novella, which he did following Trent Council directives to improve the congregation's ability to see and hear the services.
The Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, which housed Cosimo's private quarters, his assembly rooms, and the offices intended for his administrators, the Uffizi, was also designed, rebuilt, and organized by Vasari. Vasari then played a key role in getting Duke Cosimo to agree to the formation of the Accademia e Compagnia dell'Arte di Disgeno. The Accademia attempted to educate artists in the arts and literature, and science by adopting The Lives as its model of the ideal artist and its educational framework.
Vasari received the honor of being made a Knight of Saint Peter in 1571 by Pope Pius V. On June 27, 1574, Vasari passed away at 63. In the Santa Maria church in Arezzo, he was laid to rest in a chapel he had created for himself. (The Art Story, n.d.)
www.theepochtimes.com. (2022, July 30). www.theepochtimes.com. https://www.theepochtimes.com/giorgio-vasari-the-forgotten-artist-who-recorded-the-renaissance_4618184.html
The Art Story. (n.d.). www.theartstory.org. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://www.theartstory.org/artist/vasari-giorgio/
Art in context. (2022, July 13). artincontext.org. artincontext.org. https://artincontext.org/giorgio-vasari/