vasari preface to the lives summary

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In Lives of the Artists, Giorgio Vasai described what artists valued and practiced during the sixteenth century, which lead to the High Renaissance. 83- summary . To this, likewise, bear witness many works in the same manner that are to be seen in the city and in the whole Exarchate of Ravenna, and in particular some that are in S. Maria Rotonda without that city, made a little time after the Lombards had been driven out of Italy. But it is now time to come to the Life of Giovanni Cimabue, and even as he gave the first beginning to the new method of drawing and painting, so it is just and expedient that he should give it to the Lives, in which I will do my utmost to observe, the most that I can, the order of their manners rather than that of time. After the departure of Constantine, the Cæsars whom he left in Italy, building continually both in Rome and elsewhere, exerted themselves to make their works as fine as they could; but, as may be seen, sculpture, as well as painting and architecture, went ever from bad to worse, and this perchance came to pass because, when human affairs begin to decline, they never cease to go ever lower and lower until such time as they can grow no worse. This figure, by reason of its beauty and antiquity, has been placed in our day by the Lord Duke Cosimo in the hall of the new rooms in his Palace, wherein there have been painted by me the acts of Pope Leo X. V. DIE VI. In the same book, which anyone can see who has the wish, it may be read that for the building of this church there was imposed a tax of one danaio for each fire, but it is not said therein whether of gold or of small coin; and at that time there were in Pisa, as may be seen in the same book, 34,000 fires. But she, not yet content with the woes of Rome, to the end that the things stolen might never return, brought thither for the ruin of the island a host of Saracens, who carried off both the wealth of the Sicilians and the spoils of Rome to Alexandria, to the very great shame and loss of Italy and of Christendom. And although those before them had seen remains of arches, of colossi, of statues, of urns, and of storied columns in the ages that came after the sackings, the destructions, and the burnings of Rome, and never knew how to make use of them or draw from them any benefit, up to the time mentioned above, the minds that came after, discerning well enough the good from the bad and abandoning the old manners, turned to imitating the ancient with all their industry and wit. About Lives of the Artists. He was also the first important collector of drawings, which he had used also as research material for his biographies. The Romans themselves bore so great reverence for these arts that besides the respect that Marcellus, in sacking the city of Syracuse, commanded to be paid to a craftsman famous in them, in planning the assault of the aforesaid city they took care not to set fire to that quarter wherein there was a most beautiful painted panel, which was afterwards carried to Rome in the triumph, with much pomp. Of this construction and of Alexander himself everything is fully told in nine Latin verses, and the same may be seen in certain other ancient letters engraved on the marble under the portico, between the doors. And so all that the Pontiffs had not destroyed (and above all S. Gregory, who is said to have decreed banishment against all the remainder of the statues and of the spoils of the buildings) came finally, at the hands of that most rascally Greek, to an evil end; in a manner that, there being no trace or sign to be found of anything that was in any way good, the men who came after, although rude and boorish, and in particular in their pictures and sculptures, yet, incited by nature and refined by the air, set themselves to work, not according to the rules of the aforesaid arts, which they did not know, but according to the quality of their own intelligence. PREFACE TO THE THIRD PART Giorgio Vasari Truly great was the advancement conferred on the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture by those excellent masters of whom we have written hitherto, in the Second Part of these Lives, for to the achievements of the early masters they added rule, order, proportion, draughtsmanship, and manner not, indeed, in complete … And whosoever knows that the votive offerings in the medallions, that is, the sculptures in half-relief, and likewise the prisoners, and the large groups, and the columns, and the mouldings, and the other ornaments, whether made before or from spoils, are excellently wrought, knows also that the works which were made to fill up by the sculptors of that time are of the rudest, as also are certain small groups with little figures in marble below the medallions, and the lowest base wherein there are certain victories, and certain rivers between the arches at the sides, which are very rude and so made that it can be believed most surely that by that time the art of sculpture had begun to lose something of the good. 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