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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 Six

Extract

Preface Three TRULY important was the progress towards perfection, which was secured to the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, by means of the ex cellent mas- ters whose works we have described in the second part of these Lives. Rule, order, proportion, design, and manner, have all been added by them to the characteristics exhibited by those of the first period, if not in the utmost per- fection, yet making so near an approach to the truth, that the masters of the third period, of which we are hence-forward to treat, have been enabled, by the light thus afforded them, to reach that summit which the best and most renowned of modern works prove them to have attained. But to the end that the character of the amelioration effected by the above-mentioned artists, the masters of the second period, namely, may be more clearly understood, it may not be out of place to describe, in few words, the five distinctive properties, or characteristics, which I have just enumerated, and briefly to declare the origin of that truly good manner, which, surpassing that of the older period, has con- tributed to render the modern era so glorious. To begin with the first-mentioned, therefore, the Rule in architecture was the process of measuring works of antiquity, and considering the plans and ground-work of ancient ed ifices in the construction of modern buildings. Order was the division of one mode from another, to the end that each might have the parts appropriate...

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