Giorgio Vasari

Dates1511 - 1574
RolesArtist, Author

One of Italy's busiest and most influential Mannerist artists, Giorgio Vasari's reputation as a biographer has eclipsed his artistic fame. His humanist education combined with artistic talent earned him patronage by the powerful Medici family. He studied in Florence and briefly under his idol Michelangelo Buonarroti. Around 1525 he worked in the workshop of Florentine painter and colorist Andrea del Sarto. Most of Vasari's work is in Rome and Florence, but he traveled throughout Italy, orchestrating a vast workshop that decorated ceilings and walls and made altarpieces and easel paintings. A gifted architect, Vasari designed Florence's Uffizi, then the offices for the Medici's business interests and today one of the world's foremost art museums. His Mannerist style was intellectual, linear, and sophisticated, with winsome bodies forming dense patterns of exaggerated poses across canvases and frescoes.

Vasari's seminal biography of Italian artists Le Vite de' più eccelenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani (The Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors), first published in 1550 and translated into nearly every language, remains the principal source regarding his contemporaries and earlier Italian Renaissance artists. Unlike previous writers, Vasari aimed to illuminate the inner recesses of artistic character. He also consolidated the notion of a Renaissance or rebirth of ancient Rome's artistic and cultural values after the ignorance of the "dark ages."