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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 Five

Extract

Preface Two When I first undertook to write these lives, it was not my intention to make a list of the artists, or to give an inventory, so to speak, of their works. Nor could I by any means consider it a worthy end for these my labors—I will not say satisfactory but assuredly prolonged and fatiguing—that I should content myself with merely ascertaining the number, names, and country of the artists, or with informing my reader in what city or borough precisely, their paintings, sculptures, or buildings, were to be found. This I could have accomplished by a simple register or table, without the interposition of my own judgment in any part. But I have remembered that the writers of history—such of them, that is to say, as by common consent are admitted to have treated their subject most judiciously—have in no case contented themselves with a simple narra- tion of the occurrences they describe, but have made zealous inquiry respect- ing the lives of the actors, and sought with the utmost diligence to investigate the modes and methods adopted by distinguished men for the furtherance of their various undertakings. The efforts of such writers have, moreover, been further directed to the examination of the points on which errors have been made, or, on the other hand, by what means successful results have been pro- duced, to what expedients those who govern have had recourse, in what man- ner they have delivered themselves from such...

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