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The Lives of the Artists by Vasari

             Giorgio Vasari was born in 1511 at Arezzo. He was an Italian painter and architect in the service of powerful Florentine Duke Cosimo de' Medici for whom he built The Uffizi, the goverment offices. He painted frescos in the Chancellery Palace, in the Palazzo Vecchio, in the Sixteenth Century Salon and in Francesco I's appartments. As a painter,his work affected kind of mannerism. Vasari was one of the most prolific decorators of his period, although today not highly regarded. His own house in Arezzo, designed and decorated by himself, became a Vasari museum. However, it was not his artistic style and/or talent which made him famous and appreciated, but his book "The Lives of the Most Eminent Italian Architects, Painters, and Sculptors". The book, first published in 1550 and second in 1568, the much enlarged edition, had ben the crucial source for information about Italian Renaissance art and biographies of the artists. The first edition of the book contained only Michaelangelo's biography as the living artist. However, in the second edition, several artists were added when living and Vasari's own biography was included. In his preface to the book, Vasari clarifies that his wish is to "maintain the arts in life". With this desire on his mind, Vasari had wrote his book which could be regarded as the first work of art history. He was also the first important collector of drawings, which he had used also as research material for his biographies.
             First of all, Vasari recorded a history of a tradition by placing himself in relation to the other artists which is very different from modern art historians who place some distance from the subject they analyse. Moreover, his researches could be sensed in a subjected way that he offered his very opinions, made jugdements, and idolized the artists, especially Michaelangelo. The differentiation between modern art historians and Vasari is very clear at that point, that they have an secularized and positivist understanding from art history as a discipline which requires scientific methods.

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