Giorgio Vasari's Prefaces: Art and Theory. With a foreword by Wolfram Prinz
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.
works of art. Some qualities he applauds, such as technical proficiency (especially in drawing), good composition, imitation of nature, variety and invention, and appropriation of ancient art. He asserts that these qualities should be attained with grace, which means that the work must appear to have been done with masterful ease. Vasari observes that the qualitative and quantitative stylistic criteria he describes were employed in antiquity but were perfected and normalized in the sixteenth
Vasari understands beauty as a divine creation: “God fashioned the first forms of painting and sculpture in the sublime grace of created things.”158 God is the “Architect of Design,” according to Vasari’s Neoplatonic theory of art. This concept can be traced back to medieval imagery, where God is portrayed as the architect of the universe. Vasari embraces the classical conception of physical beauty. He presents this conceit (concetto) in connection with the concept of disegno. This notion of
proportion of all his works, he was more diligent and wiser than those artists before him. It seems well that in making the bodies he would put greater study than in depicting the mind and in giving spirit to the figures; in the hair and in the beard he was not more praised than compared to the ancient roughness of the others. Pythagoras, an Italian from Reggio, defeated him with a figure made by him and placed in the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The figure resembled one of those champions who
planks in bronze relief the battles of Eumenes and Attalos, king of Pergamum, against the French who passed into Asia. Among these artists were Pyromachos, Stratonikos, and Antigone, who also wrote about his art. Boeto, although he was a greater master working with a chisel in silver, nevertheless his artistry in bronze is seen in a boy strangling a goose. Emperor Vespasian consecrated the greatest and the best number of these works in Rome in the temple of Peace. A great number were taken away
quality and the durability of the material itself from the aids that it requires for its completion, and from the time that is taken in working it, rather than from the excellence of the art itself. And although that does not suffice and no greater price is found, as would be easily seen by anyone who were willing to consider it differently, let them find a greater price than the marvelous, beautiful, and living gift that Alexander the Great made in return for the most splendid and excellent work