Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori Scritte, & di nuouo Ampliate...Vasari, Giorgio. 1568
THE INVENTION OF THE RENAISSANCE
Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori Scritte, & di nuouo Ampliate da M. Giorgio Vasari Pit. et Archit. Aretino. Co’ ritratti loro Et con le nuove vite dal 1550. insino al 1567 Con tauole copiosissime De’ nomi, Dell’opere, E de’ luoghi ou’ elle sono. Three volumes. Florence: Appresso I Giunti (viz. the heirs of Filippo da Giunta), 1568.
Second edition, revised; first illustrated edition.
Quarto (8 5/8” x 5 13/16”, 220mm x 147mm). Collated complete against the registers (that of vol. III fails to include A), including all blanks (vol. III describes Aaa as a “terno” but the A4 blank is present).
[Full collation available.]
Bound in later (XVIIIc?) mottled calf. On the spine, 5 raised bands. Panels gilt. Author and title gilt to orange morocco in the second panel, number gilt to the third. Gilt roll to the edges of the boards. All edges of the text-block speckled red. With blue silk marking ribbons.
Hinges restored (with some new gilding to the edges of the spine). Wear to the extremities, and pitting to the boards from the mottling. Title-pages shaved, as usual. Scattered early ink marginalia and corrections (especially to pagination) throughout. Armorial bookplate of James Hamilton Collins to the front paste-down of each volume.
Vol. I: dampstain to the upper spine-corner. Text-block split at Tt3.
Vol. II: portrait of Correggio (p. 16) in graphite. Aaa2 reinserted on a stub. Scattered mild foxing.
Vol. III: Aaa reinserted (?). Pasted slip to p. 503 in the caption of the portrait of Girolamo Genga.
Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was intimately involved in the artistic world of Florence; taught by Andrea del Sarto, friend of Michelangelo, architect of the Uffizi and founder of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno (with his patron and the dedicatee of the work, Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici). Whereas the modern conception of history favors distance and dispassion, Vasari was involved and opinionated. He truly invented the genre of art-history (Pliny and others had described artists’ lives and work, but always within a broader work), and his framework — regional schools, the master-pupil generations, the paragone of disegno and colorito — is still the basis of the field. More broadly, Vasari is the first to describe in print the period of emergence from the medieval period as a Rinascita — gallicized to Renaissance in the XIXc — or rebirth (I:71, l. 21).
The first edition of the work was published in 1550, but it was significantly smaller in scope. In the present edition Vasari included more Venetian artists — although he was largely dismissive of them — as well active artists (other than the venerated Michelangelo, who was given the distinction as the only living artist in the first edition), including an autobiography at the very end of the work. The second edition is also the first to be illustrated with allegorical woodcuts and portraits of the artists (some conjectural), designed by Vasari himself. Of this edition the present copy is the scarcer issue with the woodcut depicting the apotheosis of the souls of the artists on the recto of the title-page of vol. I rather than on its verso.
The bookplates are something of a mystery. The motto, “vertuti non verbis” should read “virtute non verbis,” (by virtue, not by words). No other examples of James Hamilton Collins’s bookplate (stylistically early XIXc) can be found, although that of a descendant, Rev. Charles (Creaghe) Collins, with the same arms as ours dexter and those of Creaghe sinister, is in a copy of Homer in the collection of Lambeth Palace Library (K22.3/H75).
Adams V-296; Censimento 16 CNCE 48229; Mortimer, Harvard Italian 515; PMM 88.