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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 Three

Extract

Preface to the Whole Vite It was the wont of the finest spirits in all their actions, through a burning desire for glory, to spare no labor, however grievous, in order to bring their works to that perfection which might render them impressive and marvelous to the whole world; nor could the humble fortunes of many prevent their energies from attaining to the highest rank, whether in order to live in honor or to leave in the ages to come eternal fame for all their rare excellence. And although, for zeal and desire so worthy of praise, they were, while living, highly rewarded by the liberality of Princes and by the splendid ambition of States, and even after death kept alive in the eyes of the world by the testimony of statues, tombs, medals, and other memorials of that kind; none the less, it is clearly seen that the ravening maw of time has not only diminished by a great amount their own works and the honorable testimonies of others, but has also blotted out and destroyed the names of all those who have been kept alive by any other means than by the right vivacious and pious pens of writers. Pondering over this matter many a time in my own mind, and recognizing, from the example not only of the ancients but of the moderns as well, that the names of very many architects, sculptors, and painters, both old and modern, together with innumerable most beautiful works wrought by...

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