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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 Four

Extract

Preface One I have no manner of doubt that it is with almost all writers a common and deeply fixed opinion that sculpture and painting together were first dis- covered, by the light of nature, by the people of Egypt, and that there are cer- tain others who attribute to the Chaldæans the first rough sketches in marble and the first reliefs in statuary, even as they also give to the Greeks the inven- tion of the brush and of coloring. But I will surely say that of both one and the other of these arts the design, which is their foundation nay rather, the very soul that conceives and nourishes within itself all the parts of man’s intellect, was already most perfect before the creation of all other things, when the Almighty God, having made the great body of the world and having adorned the heavens with their exceeding bright lights, descended lower with His intel- lect into the clearness of the air and the solidity of the earth, and, shaping man, discovered, together with the lovely creation of all things, the first form of sculpture; from which man afterwards, step by step (and this may not be denied), as from a true pattern, there were taken statues, sculptures, and the science of pose and of outline; and for the first pictures (whatsoever they were), softness, harmony, and the concord in discord that comes from light and shade. Thus, then, the first model whence there issued the first...

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