Giorgio Vasari

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Vasari's self-portrait.

Giorgio Vasari (30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.


  • Although Titian's works seem to many to have been created without much effort, this is far from the truth and those who think so are deceiving themselves. In fact, it is clear that Titian retouched his pictures, going over them with his colours several times, so that he must obviously have taken great pains. The method he used is judicious, beautiful, and astonishing, for it makes pictures appear alive and painted with great art, but it conceals the labour that has gone into them.
    • Giorgio Vasari in "Titian of Cadore", in Lives of the Artists as translated by George Bull (1987), Vol. I p. 458.

Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, 1852


Giorgio Vasari. "Titian of Cadore", in Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects as translated by Mrs. Jonathan Foster (1852)

  • Titian, having adorned Venice, or rather all Italy and other parts of the world, with excellent paintings, well merits to be loved and respected by artists, and is in many things to be admired and imitated also, as one who has produced, and is producing, works of infinite merit; nay, such as must endure while the memory of illustrious men shall remain.
    • p. 402.

'The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, 1900


Giorgio Vasari, J. M. Dent (transl.), The Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects, New York: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1900, 1927

  • I think that anyone who will take the trouble to consider the matter carefully will arrive at the same conclusion as I have, that art owes its origin to Nature herself, that this beautiful creation the world supplied the first model, while the original teacher was that divine intelligence which has not only made us superior to the other animals, but like God Himself, if I may venture to say it.
    • p. 5
  • In our time it has been seen, as I hope to show quite shortly, that simple children, roughly brought up in the wilderness, have begun to draw by themselves, impelled by their own natural genius, instructed solely by the example of these beautiful paintings and sculptures of Nature. Much more then it is probable that the first men, being less removed from their divine origin, were more perfect, possessing a brighter intelligence, and that with Nature as a guide, a pure intellect for master, and the lovely world as a model, they originated these noble arts, and by gradually improving them brought them at length, from small beginnings, to perfection. I do not deny that there must have been an originator, since I know quite well that there must have been a beginning at some time, due to some individual.
    • p. 5-6
  • It is true that Donatello, who afterwards did the ornamentation of the other organ opposite this one, displayed much more judgment and skill than Luca, as will be said in the proper place, because he did almost the whole of the work in the rough as it were, not delicately finishing it, so that it should appear much better at a distance than Luca's; as it does, for with all his care and skill the eye cannot appreciate it well because of the very polish and finish, which are lost in the distance, as it can the almost purely rough hewn work of Donato. To this matter artists should devote much attention, because experience shows that all things seen at a distance, whether they be paintings or sculptures or any other like thing, are bolder and more vigorous in appearance if skilfully hewn in the rough than if they are carefully finished. Besides the effect obtained by distance, it often happens that these rough sketches, which are born in an instant in the heat of inspiration, express the idea of their author in a few strokes, while on the other hand too much effort and diligence sometimes sap the vitality and powers of those who never know when to leave off.
    • Volume 2. p. 28


  • Men of genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea that they subsequently express with their hands,
    • Often attributed to Giorgio Vasari, while in the text Vasari attributes these words to Leonardo da Vinci in: Giorgio Vasari. Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects as translated by Mrs. Jonathan Foster (1852), Vol. 2;
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