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Le Vite De' Piu Eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, E Architettori Scritte Da M. Giorgio Vasari Pittore Et Architetto Aretino, Di Nuovo dal Medesimo Riviste Et Ampliate Con I Ritratti Loro Et con l'aggiunta delle Vite de' vivi, & de' morti Dall'anno 1550. infino al 1567. Prima, e Seconda Parte. Con le Tavole in ciascun volume, Delle cose piu Notabili, De' Ritratti, Delle vite degli Artefici, Et de i Luoghi dove sono l'opere loro. Con Licenza E Privilegio Di N.S. Pio V. Et Del Duca Di Fiorenza E Siena.

Giorgio Vasari

RA Collection: Book

Record number



Variant Title

Delle Vite De' Piu Eccellenti Pittori Scultori Et Architettori


In Fiorenza,: Appresso i Giunti,, 1568

Physical Description

3 vols.; 220 mm. (Quarto).

General Note

Vol. I [i.e. Prima e Seconda Parte]: . - Vol. II [i.e. Primo Volume della Terza Parte]: [40], 370, [2] p.: illus. - Vol. III [i.e. Secondo et ultimo volume della Terza Parte]: .


Vol. I. [i.e. Prima e Seconda Parte] . - Vol. II [i.e. Primo Volume della Terza Parte]: [T.p.] - Tavola Delle Vite De Gli Artefici. Descritte in questo Primo Volume della Terza Parte - Tavola De' Luoghi Dove Sono L'Opere Descritte In questo Primo Volume della Terza Parte; tavola De; Ritratti Che Sono Nominati In questo Primo Volume della Terza Parte - Tavola Delle Cose Piu Notabili Che Si Contengono In questo Primo Volume della Terza Parte - Delle Vite De' Scultori, Pittori, Et Architettori ... Da M. Giorgio Vasari ... Primo Volume della Terza Parte. Proemio - [Text] - Errori seguiti ... ; Registro - [Colophon]. - Vol. III [i.e. Secondo et ultimo volume della Terza Parte]: .

Responsibility Note

The woodcuts are not signed. But in the second volume ('Primo Volume della Terza Parte') Vasari, writing of book-illustration and block cutters, states that the portraits were designed by himself and cut by 'Maestro Cristofano' (that is Cristoforo Coriolano or Cristoforo Chrieger?) - and there may have been other cutters, since Vasari states in his dedication to Cosimo I that he was inconvenienced by the blockcutters' working at a distance from him.

The edition is dedicated to Cosimo de' Medici.


Harvard University, Harvard College Library Department Of Printing And Graphic Arts Catalogue Of Books And Manuscripts Part II: Italian 16th Century Books Compiled by Ruth Mortimer (1974), vol. II. no.515, p.712-4; Cambridge University, Catalogue Of Books Printed On The Continent Of Europe, 1501-1600 In Cambridge Libraries, comp. H.M. Adams (repr. 1967), v.II. no.296, p.311; G. Vasari, Le Vite delli più eccellenti pittori scultori e architetti nelle redazioni del 1550 e 1568, ed. R. Bettarini, P. Barocchi (1966-87), v. I pt 1, p. xx-xxx; A.M. Brizio, 'La prima e la seconda edizione delle Vite', in Studi Vasariani: atti del Convegno Internazionale per il IV. Centenario della Prima Edizione Delle Vite Di Vasari, 1950 (1952), p.83-90.

Studies of Vasari's influence include E. Grasman, All'ombra del Vasari: cinque saggi sulla storiografia dell'arte nell'Italia del Settecento [tr. from In de schaduw van Vasari] (2000); R. Williams, Art, theory and culture in sixteenth-century Italy (1997); P.L. Rubin, Giorgio Vasari: art and history (1995); G. Previtali, 'The periodization of Italian art history', in History of Italian art, vol. 2 (1994), p.1-118; D. Kamper, 'Litterärhistorie-romantische Utopie - kunstgeschichtliche Poesie: Drei Modelle der Renaissancerezeption, dargesellst anhand gedruckter und ungedruckter Vasari Übersezungen 1778-1832', in Romantik und Renaissance, ed. S. Vietta (1994); L. Satkowski, Giorgio Vasari architect and courtier (1993); E. Grasman, 'La controversia fra il Vasari ed il Malvasia', in Il luogo ed il ruolo della città di Bologna tra Europa ... Atti del Colloquio C.I.H.A.: Bologna, 1990 (1992), p. 529-38.

Summary Note

The title-page of the second volume reads, 'Delle Vite De' Piu Eccellenti Pittori Scultori Et Architettori Scritte da M. Giorgio Vasari Pittore Et Architetto Aretino Primo Volume della Terza Parte. Con Licenza, & Privilegio di N.S. Pio V. & delli Illustrissimi, & Eccellentissimi Signori Duca, & Principe di Fiorenza, E Siena. In Fiorenza, Appresso i Giunti, 1568'.

Vasari's Vite were first published in 1550. This second edition is much expanded, and is the first to include illustrations (portraits).

The work is not only a collection of biographies but also a critical history. It proved immensely influential - indeed Vasari's overview of the history of art was the prevailing one until well into the nineteenth century. Using the ancient comparison of the rise and fall of communities to the life of a human being, Vasari presents art as having declined from the age of Constantine I to that of the Goths, and as having been born again with Giotto, passed through a period of growth (stimulated by the discovery of ancient statues) and attained perfection with Michelangelo, who combines rule with 'licenzia' in such a way as to satisfy the judgment of the eye. Vasari's criterion of good art is the degree to which it imitates nature (again, an ancient idea). Although Michelangelo and Raphael provide a standard for judging earlier art, one must take account of the quality of the times and recognise that some (e.g. Donatello) have surpassed their age. It is disegno that underlies painting, sculpture and architecture; but anyone who would judge art should have some technical knowledge.

Influential though these ideas were, they did receive some criticism from thinkers such as Lomazzo, Malvasia and Gigli, and from Fischart (who suspected an anti-German bias).

In this edition the text is illustrated with woodcut portraits of artists. On the title-pages the titles are printed within two woodcut architectural borders including figures, putti, the Medici family arms and a view of Florence. The title-page verso of the first volume has an allegoric print showing dead artists rising (which, in another issue, appears on the title-page itself). The title-page of the second volume ('Primo Volume della Terza Parte') has also a woodcut vignette showing the printers' device of the Giunti (a Florentine lily); another version of this is shown in the colophon.


In the 'Primo Volume della Terza Parte' the front loose endpaper is inscribed in ink, top, '+JReynolds' and centre, 'This belonged to Reynolds Northcote told me the name + was his sister's writing - I bought it at Whatman + Fenn's - who also bought a great many of Sir Joshua's Books - B R Haydon'. The front pastedown is inscribed in ink, 'All the pencil marks are Sir Joshua's BRH-', with a column of figures (prices?). The pastedown also carries a cutting from a newspaper inscribed in ink '1836', below which the pastedown is inscribed 'Mg. Chronicle'. The text of the cutting is a letter from B.R. Haydon to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle, lamenting and explaining his imprisonment for debt.

The title-page is inscribed in ink, 'BRHaydon' and also carries a stamp, 'B.R.H.'

A preliminary leaf is inscribed in ink, with the date 'Sep 13. 1836', in Haydon's hand, with a quotation from Rousseau on the lessons of adversity.

Another preliminary leaf is inscribed in ink, 'J. H. Smith Caradoc Lodge. Church Stretton.' [This is probably in the hand of the artist John Homes Smith, Gilbert Bakewell Stretton's grandfather.]

Bequeathed by G. B. Stretton, 1949.

Copy Note

Incomplete: contains the second volume only ('Primo Volume della Terza Parte').

The backl pastedown carries a pencil drawing of a female figure, and is inscribed in pencil, 'B. R. Haydon'.

The text carries many underlinings and marginal markings in ink.

Binding Note

18th-century mottled calf; rebacked in 20th century, retaining earlier gilt-decorated spine-piece lettered 'Vite De Pittori I Vol 3. Part'.


Artists, Italian - Painters, Italian - Sculptors, Italian - Architects, Italian - Art, Italian - Portraits - Italy - History - Renaissance
Biography - Art history - Art criticism - Reference books - Italy - 16th century
Pictorial works - Italy - 16th century


Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA, previous owner
Benjamin Robert Haydon, previous owner
John Homes Smith, previous owner
Gilbert Bakewell Stretton, previous owner, donor
Giorgio Vasari, draughtsman
Cristoforo Chrieger, engraver?
Cosimo I Grand-Duke of Tuscany, dedicatee
John Halphead Smith, previous owner
Giunti (Florence), publisher, printer

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