Florence art guide

Giorgio Vasari

giorgio vasari

Painter, architect and writer on art
Arezzo 1511- Florence1574

He studied the basic methods of the early Mannerist school of painting in Rome and Florence, where he took his cue from Raphael and Michelangelo as well as from Venetian influences. Thanks to his eclectic and scholarly education, he was soon mixing in a favourable environment in Rome (1542-46) which brought him into the circle of Cardinal Farnese, who gave him his first commission: the series of paintings in the Vatican Chancellery. In the meantime he decided to organize the notes he had made during his travels around Italy into a literary form and the first edition of the "Vite dè più eccellenti architetti, scultori e pittori" was published in Florence in 1550. This book was to make him far more famous over the centuries than his work as an artist.

His return to Florence was to bind him for the rest of his life to Duke Cosimo who had a special project in mind which was the celebration of the Medici family and the glorious past of Florence. Vasari became a key-figure in this plan: he built the Uffizi (1560) and, with the so-called Vasari corridor, carried out a spectacular link between the centre of power (Palazzo Vecchio) and the home of the Medici family (Pitti Palace).

the conquest of Siena
The conquest of Siena
the Hall of the Five Hundred -
Palazzo Vecchio

As planner and organizer he was at the head of what can be considered an artistic "firm" that transformed Palazzo Vecchio (the Hall of the Five Hundred, 1568, the little Study of Francesco I, 1570-72).
Thanks to the encouragement of Cosimo I he was also able to found (1561) the Academy of Drawing. In 1568 he published the second edition of "Vite", brought up to date by the addition of contemporary artists: here we get the feeling that he put little trust in the future and that he realised that the greatness of Florentine art, which had reached its peak with Michelangelo, was a phenomenon that was never to be repeated again.
The engravings used to portray the artists are taken from the second edition of "Vite".

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