|Giorgio Vasari self-portrait|
You know him for his Lives of the Artists, but there was no word meaning just "artist" in sixteenth century Italy. The original title was: Le Vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori (1550) and it was arguably the first Art History book along with the biographies it contained.
So far, so good. Or maybe not. Fellow History Girl Michelle Lovric, in whose beautiful Thameside apartment I am writing this post, wants me to say that Vasari was a scurrilous rumour-monger, whose "Lives" has been far too influential.
Vasari idolised Michelangelo, whose long life encompassed his own. Also good.
And his achievements as an architect are superb: The Piazza degli Uffizi in Florence is a marvel of "bringing the inside outside" as achieved first by his great role-model in the Laurentian library in that same city.
|Photo - Thomas Mies|
The Corridoio Vasariano that snakes from the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace is just one elegant zig and zag of an elevated private walkway for dukes and princes. (So much so that I used it in my own Stravaganza: City of Flowers)
|Vasari Corridor - photo- Arnold Paul|
I've never managed to get into it but here it angles its seductive way across the Ponte Vecchio towards Santa Felicita, from where the de Medici could "attend" Mass without being seen.
But just look at this:
|Photo by islodelba|
|Photo - Giovanni dall'Orto|
The tomb Vasari designed for his hero, Michelangelo, in Santa Croce. It's an abomination, isn't it? I love the façade of Santa Croce and sitting in the Piazza outside drinking coffee but I won't go inside it any more, even though Michelangelo is my hero too.
Because Vasari covered up Giotto frescoes on the wall of the Nave with lots of little altars!
How could the same man have two such conflicting sets of aesthetics? It is beyond me. As is Giorgio Vasari.