A report on Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

Title page of the 1568 edition of Le Vite
Eliza Foster's 1850-51 translation of Vasari's Lives
page=1|Vol. 1 (= parts I and II), title page variant
page=5|Vol. 2 (first volume of part III)

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 "the first important book on art history".

- Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects
Title page of the 1568 edition of Le Vite

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Self-portrait by Vasari

Giorgio Vasari

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Self-portrait by Vasari
Six Tuscan Poets by Giorgio Vasari, c. 1544, from left to right: Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Francesco Petrarca, Giovanni Boccaccio, Dante Alighieri, and Guido Cavalcanti
The Garden of Gethsemane by Giorgio Vasari
The Uffizi Loggia
A cover of the Lives
Alessandro de Medici resting
Pieta
Bird catchers
Holy Family, with Andrea del Sarto
Last Supper
Entombment
Temptations of St. Jerome
St. Luke painting the Virgin
Annunciation
Justice
The Prophet Elisha
Interior of the dome of Florence Cathedral
Cosimo studies the taking of Siena
Apotheosis of Cosimo I
Defeat of the Venetians in Casentino
Giorgio Vasari with drawings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Raffaellino del Garbo
Giorgio Vasari with drawings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Raffaellino del Garbo
Uffizi colonnade and loggia
Loggia of Vasari in Arezzo
Pietro in Montorio, Rome
Tomb of Michelangelo
Sala dei Cento Giorni - Giorgio Vasari - 1547 - Palazzo della Cancelleria
Villa Giulia - Court - Vasari - Vignola
Part of Loggia del Mercato Vecchio, Florence, just prior to its demolition in the 1880s

Giorgio Vasari (, also, ; 30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter, architect, engineer, writer, and historian, best known for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing, and the basis for biographies of several Renaissance artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

This portrait attributed to Francesco Melzi, c. 1515–1518, is the only certain contemporary depiction of Leonardo.

Leonardo da Vinci

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Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect.

Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect.

This portrait attributed to Francesco Melzi, c. 1515–1518, is the only certain contemporary depiction of Leonardo.
The possible birthplace and childhood home of Leonardo in Anchiano, Vinci, Italy
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Adoration of the Magi c. 1478–1482, Uffizi, Florence
a 1473 pen-and-ink drawing
Virgin of the Rocks, c. 1483–1493, Louvre version
a drawing
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist, c. 1499–1508, National Gallery, London
An apocalyptic deluge drawn in black chalk by Leonardo near the end of his life (part of a series of 10, paired with written description in his notebooks)
portrait of Leonardo
Drawing of the Château d'Amboise (c. 1518) attributed to Francesco Melzi
Saint John the Baptist c. 1507–1516, Louvre. Leonardo is thought to have used Salaì as the model.
Annunciation c. 1472–1476, Uffizi, is thought to be Leonardo's earliest extant and complete major work
Unfinished painting of Saint Jerome in the Wilderness c. 1480–1490, Vatican
Lady with an Ermine, c. 1489–1491, Czartoryski Museum, Kraków, Poland
The Last Supper, Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (c. 1492–1498)
Mona Lisa or La Gioconda c. 1503–1516, Louvre, Paris
Presumed self-portrait of Leonardo (c. 1510) at the Royal Library of Turin, Italy.
Antique warrior in profile, c. 1472
A page showing Leonardo's study of a foetus in the womb (c. 1510), Royal Library, Windsor Castle
Rhombicuboctahedron as published in Pacioli's Divina proportione (1509)
Anatomical study of the arm (c. 1510)
Leonardo's physiological sketch of the human brain and skull (c. 1510)
Leonardo's drawings of a scythed chariot and a fighting vehicle.
Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence, by Luigi Pampaloni (1791–1847)
The Death of Leonardo da Vinci, by Ingres, 1818
Leonardo Museum in Vinci, which houses a large collection of models constructed on the basis of Leonardo's drawings.
Tomb in the chapel of Saint Hubert at the Château d'Amboise where a plaque describes it as the presumed site of Leonardo's remains.
Madonna of the Carnation, {{circa|1472–1478}}, Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Landscape of the Arno Valley (1473)
Ginevra de' Benci, {{circa|1474–1480}}, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Benois Madonna, {{circa|1478–1481}}, Hermitage, Saint Petersburg
Sketch of the hanging of Bernardo Bandini Baroncelli, 1479
Head of a Woman, {{circa|1483–1485}}, Royal Library of Turin
Portrait of a Musician, {{circa|1483–1487}}, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan
The Vitruvian Man ({{circa|1485}}) Accademia, Venice
Leonardo's horse in silverpoint, {{circa|1488}}{{sfn|Wallace|1972|p=65}}
La Belle Ferronnière, {{circa|1490–1498}}
thumb|Detail of 1902 restoration, trompe-l'œil painting (1498)
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, {{circa|1501–1519}}, Louvre, Paris
Leonardo's map of Imola, created for Cesare Borgia, 1502
Study for The Battle of Anghiari (now lost), {{circa|1503}}, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
La Scapigliata, {{circa|1506–1508}} (unfinished), Galleria Nazionale di Parma, Parma
Study for Leda and the Swan (now lost), {{circa|1506–1508}}, Chatsworth House, England
Anatomical study of the arm (c. 1510)

Very little is known about Leonardo's childhood and much is shrouded in myth, partially because of his biography in the frequently apocryphal Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550) by the 16th-century art historian Giorgio Vasari.

Portrait of Dante Alighieri by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, Uffizi Gallery Florence

Italian Renaissance

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Period in Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries.

Period in Italian history covering the 15th and 16th centuries.

Portrait of Dante Alighieri by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, Uffizi Gallery Florence
Pandolfo Malatesta (1417–1468), lord of Rimini, by Piero della Francesca. Malatesta was a capable condottiere, following the tradition of his family. He was hired by the Venetians to fight against the Turks (unsuccessfully) in 1465, and was the patron of Leone Battista Alberti, whose Tempio Malatestiano at Rimini is one of the first entirely classical buildings of the Renaissance.
Portrait of Cosimo de' Medici by Jacopo Pontormo
Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance Man
Giulio Clovio, Adoration of the Magi and Solomon Adored by the Queen of Sheba from the Farnese Hours, 1546
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527), the author of The Prince and prototypical Renaissance man. Detail from a portrait by Santi di Tito.
Petrarch, from the Cycle of Famous Men and Women. ca. 1450. Detached fresco. 247 x. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Artist: Andrea di Bartolo di Bargilla (ca. 1423–1457).
Detail of The Last Judgment, 1536–1541, by Michelangelo
David by Donatello
Bramante's Tempietto in San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, 1502
Claudio Monteverdi by Bernardo Strozzi

The Renaissance author Giorgio Vasari used the term rinascita 'rebirth' in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550, but the concept became widespread only in the 19th century, after the work of scholars such as Jules Michelet and Jacob Burckhardt.

Posthumous portrait of Giotto di Bondone, made between 1490 and 1550

Giotto

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Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages.

Italian painter and architect from Florence during the Late Middle Ages.

Posthumous portrait of Giotto di Bondone, made between 1490 and 1550
One of the Legend of St. Francis frescoes at Assisi, the authorship of which is disputed.
Crucifixion
The Crucifixion of Rimini
Kiss of Judas, Scrovegni Chapel
Lamentation (The Mourning of Christ), Scrovegni Chapel
Details of figures from the Raising of Drusiana in the Peruzzi Chapel
Ognissanti Madonna, (c. 1310) Tempera on wood, 325 x Uffizi, Florence
The Nativity in the Lower Church, Assisi
Giotto, Peruzzi Altarpiece, c.1322, North Carolina Museum of Art
Campanile di Giotto (Florence)
Engraving after a portrait of Dante by Giotto

In his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects Vasari states that Giotto was a shepherd boy, a merry and intelligent child who was loved by all who knew him.

Santa Trinita Maestà, 1280–1285, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Cimabue

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Italian painter and designer of mosaics from Florence.

Italian painter and designer of mosaics from Florence.

Santa Trinita Maestà, 1280–1285, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
St. Francis of Assisi
Fresco in the Lower Basilica of Assisi
Crucifix, 1287–1288, Panel, 448 x, Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence
Crucifix (c. 1267–1271), San Domenico, Arezzo
Maestà (c. 1280), Louvre, Paris
Hypothetical reconstruction of the Diptych
Virgin and Child with Two Angels (c. 1280), National Gallery, London
Christ Mocked (c. 1280), sold at auction for €24m in 2019
The Flagellation of Christ (c. 1280), Frick Collection, New York
Attributed to Cimabue, Maestà (c. 1280–1285), Santa Maria dei Servi, Bologna
Castelfiorentino Madonna (c. 1283–1284), Museo di Santa Verdiana, Castelfiorentino
The Last Supper
Madonna Enthroned with the Child, St Francis and four Angels (detail)
Maestà of Santa Trinita, (detail) Prophet
Detail of the Santa Croce Crucifix showing Apostle John
Detail of mosaic Christ enthroned with the Virgin and St John showing St. John the Evangelist
Cimabue Self Portrait

One source that recounts his career is Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, but its accuracy is uncertain.

Portrait by Daniele da Volterra, c. undefined 1545

Michelangelo

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Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance.

Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance.

Portrait by Daniele da Volterra, c. undefined 1545
The Madonna of the Steps (1490–1492)
Pietà, St Peter's Basilica (1498–99)
The Statue of David, completed by Michelangelo in 1504, is one of the most renowned works of the Renaissance.
Tomb of Julius II, 1505–1545
Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; the work took approximately four years to complete (1508–1512)
The Last Judgment (1534–1541)
The dome of St Peter's Basilica
Ignudo fresco from 1509 on the Sistine Chapel ceiling
Michelangelo, drawn from sight by Francisco de Holanda in the late 1530s.
The Punishment of Tityus, gift to Tommaso dei Cavalieri, c. 1532
The Sistine Chapel Ceiling (1508–1512)
Tomb of Michelangelo (1578) by Giorgio Vasari in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence.
The Taddei Tondo (1502)
Madonna and Child. Bruges, Belgium (1504)
The Doni Tondo (1504–1506)
Angel by Michelangelo, early work (1494–95)
Bacchus by Michelangelo, early work (1496–1497)
Dying Slave, Louvre (1513)
Atlas Slave (1530–1534)
The Drunkenness of Noah
The Deluge (detail)
The Creation of Adam (1510)
The First Day of Creation
Studies for The Libyan Sibyl
 The Libyan Sibyl (1511)
The Prophet Jeremiah (1511)
Ignudo
Battle of the Centaurs (1492)
Copy of the lost Battle of Cascina by Bastiano da Sangallo
The Last Judgment, detail of the Redeemed. (see whole image above)
The Crucifixion of St. Peter
The vestibule of the Laurentian Library has Mannerist features which challenge the Classical order of Brunelleschi's adjacent church.
Michelangelo's redesign of the ancient Capitoline Hill included a complex spiralling pavement with a star at its centre.
Michelangelo's design for St Peter's is both massive and contained, with the corners between the apsidal arms of the Greek Cross filled by square projections.
The exterior is surrounded by a giant order of pilasters supporting a continuous cornice. Four small cupolas cluster around the dome.
Design for a window in the Palazzo Farnese.
Second design for wall tomb of Pope Julius II
Self-portrait of the artist as Nicodemus
Statue of Victory (1534), Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
The Pietà of Vittoria Colonna (c. 1540)
The Rondanini Pietà (1552–1564)
The Doni Tondo (1504–1506)
Drawing showing Tommaso dei Cavalieri by Michelangelo

In the same year, Giorgio Vasari published his Vita, including a biography of Michelangelo.

Lorenzo Ghiberti on Gates of Paradise modern copy Florence Baptistery

Lorenzo Ghiberti

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Italian Renaissance sculptor from Florence, a key figure in the Early Renaissance, best known as the creator of two sets of bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery, the later one called by Michelangelo the Gates of Paradise.

Italian Renaissance sculptor from Florence, a key figure in the Early Renaissance, best known as the creator of two sets of bronze doors of the Florence Baptistery, the later one called by Michelangelo the Gates of Paradise.

Lorenzo Ghiberti on Gates of Paradise modern copy Florence Baptistery
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Angled view of a panel with the story of Abraham from the Florence Gates of Paradise (see above)
In Flagellation, one of the panels on the North Doors
The story of Joseph, a panel from the second set of doors to the Baptistery
The Sacrifice of Isaac, Brunelleschi's competition project for a door panel of the Baptistry of Florence (1401)
The Sacrifice of Isaac,Ghiberti's winning piece for the 1401 competition
Gates of Paradise, Baptistery, Florence, the doors in situ are reproductions
Tomb of Ghiberti in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence

According to Vasari's Lives, this panel was the most difficult and also the most beautiful.

Presumed self-portrait of Leon Battista Alberti

Leon Battista Alberti

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Italian Renaissance humanist author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, and cryptographer; he epitomised the nature of those identified now as polymaths.

Italian Renaissance humanist author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, and cryptographer; he epitomised the nature of those identified now as polymaths.

Presumed self-portrait of Leon Battista Alberti
Presumed self-portrait of Leon Battista Alberti
A portrait of Alberti by Filippino Lippi is thought to exist in the Brancacci Chapel, as part of Lippi's completion of the Masaccio painting, the Raising of the Son of Theophilus and St. Peter Enthroned
Palazzo Rucellai
English title page of the first edition of Giacomo Leoni's translation of Alberti's De Re Aedificatoria (1452) - the book is bilingual, with the Italian version being printed on the left and the English version printed on the right
Piazza Pio II in Pienza, looking toward the Palazzo Piccolomini
Detail of the facade of Tempio Malatestiano
The upper storey of Santa Maria Novella
One of the giant scrolls at Santa Maria Novella
A window of the Rucellai Palace

Alberti's life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.

Giorgione, Sleeping Venus (c. 1510), Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.

Venetian Renaissance

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The Venetian Renaissance had a distinct character compared to the general Italian Renaissance elsewhere.

The Venetian Renaissance had a distinct character compared to the general Italian Renaissance elsewhere.

Giorgione, Sleeping Venus (c. 1510), Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden, Germany.
Tintoretto, Miracle of the Slave, 1548
The Feast of the Gods, begun c. 1514 by Giovanni Bellini, and completed by Titian in 1529; oil on canvas; National Gallery of Art, Washington
Palazzo Dario, 1480s, with characteristic Venetian chimney-pots
Mauro Codussi, Ca' Vendramin Calergi, from 1481
Jacopo Sansovino, Biblioteca Marciana, begun 1537
Palladio, Villa Badoer, 1556 on, one of his villas on the terraferma
Paolo Veronese, group of musicians playing at The Wedding at Cana, 1563
The Bravo, an example of a painting often attributed to Titian or Giorgione, but also to Palma Vecchio<ref>Steer, 114-116</ref>
Sebastiano del Piombo, Visitation, 1518–19
Lorenzo Lotto, Portrait of Andrea Odoni, 1527
Paolo Veronese, The Conversion of Mary Magdalene, c. 1548
Andrea Schiavone, Judgement of Midas, c. 1548–50
Jacopo Bassano, The Way to Calvary, c. 1540

The rest of Italy tended to ignore or underestimate Venetian painting; Giorgio Vasari's neglect of the school in the first edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects in 1550 was so conspicuous that he realized he needed to visit Venice for extra material in his second edition of 1568.

Self-portrait of Fra' Filippo Lippi

Filippo Lippi

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Italian painter of the Quattrocento (15th century) and a Carmelite Priest.

Italian painter of the Quattrocento (15th century) and a Carmelite Priest.

Self-portrait of Fra' Filippo Lippi
Devotional image of the Madonna and Child before a golden curtain by the Workshop of Filippo Lippi. The Walters Art Museum.
Adoration in the Forest
Madonna and Child (1440–1445), tempera on panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement (c. 1440). Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.
The Nativity, probably c. 1445, National Gallery of Art
The Adoration of the Magi is a tondo of the Adoration of the Magi. It is credited to Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi and dates to c. 1440/1460.
Incoronazione della Vergine (1441–47)
Madonna with the Child and two Angels (1465), tempera on wood, Uffizi.
Madonna of Palazzo Medici-Riccardi
Portrait of a woman
Coronation of the Virgin (detail)
Madonna with Child
Madonna and Child Follower of Fra Filippo Lippi and Francesco Pesellino

In his Lives of the Artists, Vasari says about Lippi: "Instead of studying, he spent all his time scrawling pictures on his own books and those of others."