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Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects (Everyman's Library Classics) [Hardcover]

Giorgio Vasari , David Ekserdjian , Gaston de Vere , Gaston De Vere
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Nov 1996 Everyman's Library Classics
Available as two separate volumes or as a bo xed set, this 16th century work is a distinctive blend of bi ography and criticism which effectively founded the study of art history and remains one of its greatest monuments '

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 2112 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman's Library; New edition edition (14 Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857157796
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857157796
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.4 x 11 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,549,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consider in Context 26 April 2004
Format:Hardcover
When one reads Vasari's Lives' one should consider that to criticise thebook for it's various weaknesses with bias and his emotive tones is toutterly miss the point of Vasari. The book is what it is, largely aprimary source of the Great Artists from Giotto to Titian. No new versioncan get away from this, to attempt to balance the books opinions would beto create a new and inaccurate version. When one considers THIS book oneshould merely consider the quality of this edition, which is excellent. Superbly put together and marvelously edited.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A history of Mannerism 21 Jan 2004
Format:Hardcover
Giorgio Vasari's 'Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects' provides a detailed account of the development of art since the time of Cimabue and Giotto. In particular, Vasari attempts to decribe and record the development of mannerist art by identifying three periods in the history of art, leading up to what he might describe as the moment of artisitc perfection, with the emergence of the Renaissance.
However, for the modern reader, this work can prove a chore. Gaston de Vere appears to have provided a very precise translation of the 2nd edition (1568) of this work and whilst this authenticity in translation is to be encouraged, it does not assist with what can otherwise be a very dry and difficult read. Vasari has also been severally criticised for embellishing upon and evening disregarding the truth, whilst writing the 'Lives'.
These criticisms are in part justified. However, they must also be made in context. One must remember that Vasari was himself hampered in this work, being plagued by the uncertainty and deficiency of the records of the individuals and works involved, as is perhaps best illustrated by his desire to create a second edition of his work, thirteen years after the first edition. In addition, any dryness might be forgiven when considering the subject matter, the style of writing popular of that period and given Vasari's attempts to record and often describe those known works by his subjects. Incidentally, I found the 'Lives' much more interesting and rewarding when I had the opportunity to view many of these works myself in Florence and to visit Vasari's house in Arezzo.
I would concede that the 'Lives' is certainly not for the light-hearted. However, given Vasari's influential and active position within the Medici court during what is arguably the high point of the Renaissance, the 'Lives' reflects a contemporary record, and Vasari's own view, of the origins and development of Florentine and Italian art.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the real thing: a voice from the Italian Renaissance 12 July 2008
By paedagogue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
all at once alien and familiar. Other, cheaper, heavily abridged, versions of this book are available, but if you want the complete rainbow of "famous Renaissance artist" biographies (and some not so famous), written by a fellow artist who actually knew many of the most important figures about whom he wrote (and not just artists: Vasari worked for popes and secular princes who also sponsored the greatest artists of the time), this is it, and really good value for the price. There is one omission in De Vere's early 20th-century rendering of Vasari's huge book: the fascinating Technical Preface with which Vasari introduced the actual historical narratives of the Lives. Fortunately, this is available in an affordable Dover edition (Vasari On Technique). Like his opinions on individual masters, Vasari's historical "facts" will always require current scholarly verification, especially with reference to the artists from the earlier phases of what Vasari called the era of "modern artistic style." But he's the closest we have to an articulate eyewitness account of that amazing time, and even his prejudices and misconceptions are full of interest.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for hardcore devotees only! 12 Feb 2012
By David August - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's like this. If you have some casual interest in art history, particularly Renaissance art history, and most particularly Italian Renaissance art history, you've probably heard of Giorgio Vasari's "Lives."

Want my advice? Stop there.

Abridged editions are available (here I review the boxed two-volume unabridged edition from Everyman's Library), and those of more than a casual interest could just as well stop there, too. Vasari gave art history such terms as "Gothic," "Renaissance," and "Mannerist," and you can get all you want of that, and highlights of the most famous artists, from such abridgements.

This fully unabridged edition, while essential to those fascinated by such art history, is simply not worth it to those of lesser interest. Too much of it -- indeed, most all of it -- reads like an endless list, artist after artist, simply mentioning the works each did in each place. That makes it about as compelling a read as your local phone book. Worsening matters is that Vasari by his own admission was no writer, and the translator notes in his foreword that he has striven to recreate that fault. Simple fact is, this is dry and boring to read, and your eyes will quickly glaze over with dulled incomprehension as you try.

Those warnings aside -- don't say I didn't warn you! -- this is a handsome boxed edition, very attractive, with sewn-in bookmarks in each volume, a fine printing overall. And if you, like me, are determined to study such original sources in full, no matter how tedious, you will love this edition. From Duccio and Cimabue and Giotto forward, they're all here, with all their works detailed in endless, excruciating detail. We'll be intrigued to learn of, and dismayed to hear of, so many major works that were already lost by Vasari's day through fire, poor or experimental workmanship, intentional destruction, or even urban renewal. We'll even be angered to hear of known works that survived those first couple centuries only to be lost today. We'll absorb and appreciate those scant hints of sociopolitical background, of artistic technique and execution, of personal character as Vasari bothers to record. Nonetheless, eventually, our eyes will glaze over too, and then we'll appreciate even more the work of later, better art historians. Vasari was the first of art historians (unless you count Pausanius), but that sure doesn't mean he was the best.

I recommend this edition for those with a devoted and serious interest in the subject only! I would also recommend it as bookshelf-candy, being a very attractive and handsome boxed edition, if you or a gift recipient have no intention of ever trying to read it, or wish to wean yourself off Sominex.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best translation of Vasari's works 10 Jun 2011
By Andy Shuping - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I took a Master's level Art History class on Giorgia Vasari at FSU a few years ago and this was the translation of the book that the professor wanted us to buy for the class. And for good reason. It's probably the most complete and accurate translation of Vasari's works out there and is downright affordable in this edition (yes $44 is affordable for this. It's a nice two volume edition with a slipcover to store the books in and the books themselves have a nice sturdy binding. If you have to buy a translation of Vasari's works or just want to explore what the first art historian wrote, you can't go wrong with this edition.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful edition of this book 27 Aug 2010
By Renaissance Woman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I received my copy yesterday. All the artists who have been mentioned in scholarly writings can be found here at last! This 2-volume edition is worth every penny!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Italian Rinascimento 22 Sep 2010
By John Barone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Good fun. Not to read continuously but to dip into when the mood strikes you. On the one hand gossipy on the other hand it constitutes the considered judgment of a talented painter on what I consider to be the greatest era of painting and sculpture in the history of the World. Being Italian may influence my opinion, but not too much. Vasari is not always 100% accurate, and he favors the Florentines, but is always interesting. As the Italians say, "Se non e' vero e' ben trovato".
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