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The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors & Architects, Vol. 1

Giorgio Vasari

Book Overview: 

The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, from Cimabue to Our Times, or Le Vite delle più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori, as it was originally known in Italian, is a series of artist biographies written by 16th century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari, which is considered "perhaps the most famous, and even today the most- read work of the older literature of art", "some of the Italian Renaissance's most influential writing on art", and "one of the founding texts in art history". Vasari's work has been described as "by far the most influential single text for the history of Renaissance art" and "the most important work of Renaissance biography of artists". Its influence is situated mainly in three domains: as an example for contemporary and later biographers and art historians, as a defining factor in the view on the Renaissance and the role of Florence and Rome in it, and as a major source of information on the lives and works of early Italian artists. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .St Stephen, after the designs of Giorgio Vasari, Aretine painter and architect, who has done his best with the old walls, to adapt them to the modern style. Niccola designed many other palaces and churches at Pisa, and he was the first, after the loss of good methods of construction, who introduced the founding of buildings at Pisa upon pillars connected by arches, first driving piles in under the pillars. This method renders the building absolutely secure, as is shown by experience, whereas without the piles, the foundations are liable to give way, causing the walls to fall down. The church of S. Michele in Borgo of the monks of Gamaldoli was also built after his plans. But the most beautiful, ingenious and fanciful piece of architecture that Niccola ever constructed was the campanile of S. Niccola at Pisa, where the friars of St Augustine are. Outside it is octagonal, but the interior is round with a winding staircase rising to the top leaving the middle space void li. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is my first candidate for the "what if you were marooned on a desert island" list.

Expecting a somewhat dry book from a 16th Century Italian author, this was easier and more enjoyable to read than I expected. Rather than being formalistic and pompous, this book is full of saucy and funny anecdotes about the Renaissance artists that preceded Vasari, some of whom he knew personally.

i just love to see ye olde man pop off at each other about pigment sourcing, sexual proclivities, and noble patrons. it always manages to be hilarious, informative, and puts matters into perspective considering that few but the very haute academic care today if Luigi Bruccio or somesuch lad preferre

When you hold this book on your hand (or in your Kindle!), just remember what a privilege it is to google every artist while reading the chapters and seeing the beautiful art Vasari is writing about. a privilege deprived of generations of people reading this old book in the past, who could only gues

This book is chock full of information of the artists of the Renaissance. I only read sections of it, mostly pertaining to artists whose work I had recently seen on a trip to Florence. It's a bit dry, as in, the artist was born, he did this, then he did that, then he died. It does give a good look a

Bible of Renaissance Art lovers. Written by Giorgio Vasari who was an artist himself and lived roughly few decades after main renaissance events (that's why a lot of evidences and judgements from "The lives of the Artists" are disputed by modern specialists). The book is structured as a collection o

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