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Giorgio Vasari’s «Prefaces»

Art and Theory- With a foreword by Wolfram Prinz

Liana De Girolami Cheney

Giorgio Vasari’s Prefaces: Art and Theory provides students and scholars alike with the opportunity to study and understand the art, theory, and visual culture of Giorgio Vasari and sixteenth century Italy. For the first time all of Vasari’s Prefaces from the Lives of the Artists (1568) are included translated into English as well as in the original Italian. Also included is an English translation of Giovanni Battista Adriani’s letter to Giorgio Vasari enlightening Vasari on the art of the ancient masters.
Through the eyes of Vasari, this book captures the creative achievements of his fellow artists – how they adopt nature and the classical tradition as their muses and how they ingeniously interpret the secular and religious themes of the past and present. Vasari himself is lauded for the transformation of the artist from one of being a mere laborer to one who imbues his work with intellectual depth and is recognized as a creator of beautiful visual myths.


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Chapter One


Dedication Letter to Cosimo de’ Medici (1550 edition of the Vite) TO THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS AND MOST EXCELLENT SIGNOR COSMO DE’ MEDICI, DUKE OF FLORENCE My Most Reverend Lord, Impelled by your own natural magnanimity, and following the example of your illustrious progenitors, your Excellency has never ceased to favor and exalt every kind of talent, whosesoever it may be found, more particularly do you protect the arts of design; and since your gracious dis position towards those who exercise these arts, with your knowledge of, and pleasure in, their best and rarest works, is fully manifest, I have thought that this labor which I have undertaken—of writing the lives, describing the works, and setting forth the various relations of those who, when art had become extinct, first revived, and then gradually conducted her to that degree of beauty and majesty wherein we now see her, would not be other than pleasing to your Excellency. And since almost all these masters were Tuscans, the greater part of them your own Florentines, many of whom were aided and encouraged by your illustrious ancestors with every sort of honor and reward, it may be truly affirmed that the arts were recalled to life in your own States—nay, in your own most fortunate house. Thus is the world indebted to your ancestors for the recovery of these noble arts, by which it is both ennobled and embellished. 002_ChapterOneV2:Cheney_Illustrations.qxd 12/12/2011 10:57 AM Page 1 Chapter One2 Reflecting, therefore...

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