Giorgio Vasari, First Complete Edition of Lives of the Artists, 1568 For Sale
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Giorgio Vasari, First Complete Edition of Lives of the Artists, 1568


Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori [The Lives of the Artists] First complete, first illustrated, and most sought after edition of the first modern history of art. [The Second Edition overall.] An exceptional copy, very handsomely bound. Vasari’s “book contains the biographies of Italian painters, etc. from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. They are based on earlier written and printed sources, on oral accounts, on his knowledge of works of art and his own collection of large drawings. Vasari traveled extensively to collect personal information, meeting most of the artists of his time… Michelangelo was his great hero. The Lives are freely laced with stories and anecdotes, some of which are certainly apocryphal… Vasari’s excellent sense of narrative, however, and lively style combined with his wide personal acquaintance makes his ‘Lives’ a vital contribution to our understanding of the character and psychology of the great artists of the Renaissance, a term (‘rinascita’) which he was the first writer to use… It also contains an autobiography and a valuable treatise on the technical methods employed in the arts. It became a model for subsequent writings on the history of art… For its period it has remained the chief authority and new editions are published regularly” (Printing and the Mind of Man, 88). This second edition—the first illustrated and the preferred edition—comprises 161 lives, 28 more than the first edition of 1550 and it brings the biographies up to date from 1550 to 1568. The portraits were designed by the author himself (to his contemporaries he was first and foremost a painter and architect) and executed by or under the supervision of Maestro Christofano, probably either Christophoro Coriolano or Christoforo Chreiger. They are accurate and characterful representations of their subjects. Engraved with “architectural title-border, with figures and putti, on the title page of each of the three volumes… The inner border includes a shield with the Medici arms and a cartouche which contains… a view of Florence. The first volume of part three has a Giunta lily device on the title-page. On the verso of the title of the first volume is an allegorical woodcut… repeated at the end of part three. Portrait of Vasari printed as a plate… One hundred forty-four medallion portraits of the artists… set within borders with female figures representing the arts… There are six different border designs… [and] grotesque, arabesque and dolphin tailpieces” (Mortimer, Harvard). Florence: Appresso I Giunti, 1568. Quarto, early eighteenth-century full polished calf with elaborately decorated gilt spines. Three volumes. Light occasional foxing, title border a little shaved (as usual). Elegant early engraved bookplate in each volume. An early issue with illustrations in uncommonly strong, clear impressions. Third volume slightly smaller, light wear to bindings. All three volumes in exquisite uniform early calf.


  • Creator
    Giorgio Vasari (Author)
  • Of the Period
  • Place of Origin
  • Date of Manufacture
  • Period
    16th Century
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Condition
  • Dimensions
    H 9.5 in. x W 3.5 in. x D 6.5 in.H 24.13 cm x W 8.89 cm x D 16.51 cm
  • Seller Location
    New York, NY
  • Sold As
    Set of 3
  • Reference Number
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Located in New York, NY
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