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  • Published: 1 March 2006
  • ISBN: 9780375760365
  • Imprint: Random House US Group
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 640
  • RRP: $35.00

The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects



The first comprehensive history ever written of the greatest period of the world’s art.

A painter and architect in his own right, Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) achieved immortality for this book on the lives of his fellow Renaissance artists, first published in Florence in 1550. Although he based his work on a long tradition of biographical writing, Vasari infused these literary portraits with a decidedly modern form of critical judgment. The result is a work that remains to this day the cornerstone of art historical scholarship.
Spanning the period from the thirteenth century to Vasari’s own time, the Lives opens a window on the greatest personalities of the period, including Giotto, Brunelleschi, Mantegna, Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Titian. This Modern Library edition, abridged from the original text with notes drawn from earlier commentaries, as well as current research, reminds us why The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects is indispensable to any student interested in Renaissance art.

  • Published: 1 March 2006
  • ISBN: 9780375760365
  • Imprint: Random House US Group
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 640
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari was born in 1511 at Arezzo in Tuscany. While still a boy he was introduced to Cardinal Silvio Passerini who put him to study in Florence with Michelangelo — who later became a close friend — then with Andrea del Sarto. He left Florence when his patron, Duke Alessandro, was assassinated, and wandered round Italy filling his notebooks with sketches; it was during this period that he conceived the idea of the Lives. By now, in his thirties, Vasari was a highly successful painter and when his Lives were published they were received enthusiastically.

He returned to Florence in 1555 to serve Duke Cosimo who appointed him architect of the Palazzo Vecchio. After a grand tour of Italian towns he published the revised and enlarged edition of his Lives in 1568. Vasari spent the rest of his life in a glow of self- satisfaction and public recognition, and in 1971 he was knighted by Pope Pius V. He died in 1574.

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Praise for The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects

‘Vasari is the unrivaled critic of Italian art, and one of the great prose writers of Italy.’ Bernard Berenson

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