The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art

About the Author

Ingrid Rowland is an award-winning author, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a professor of history, classics, art, and architecture at the University of Notre Dame, based in Rome. Noah Charney is an internationally best-selling author and professor of art history living in Slovenia.

The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art

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Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney

In the tradition of The Swerve and How to Live, this vivid biography reveals how a Renaissance scholar reshaped the visual world.

 

Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was a man of many talents—a sculptor, painter, architect, writer, and scholar—but he is best known for Lives of the Artists, the classic account that single-handedly invented the genre of artistic biography and established the canon of Italian Renaissance art. Before Vasari’s extraordinary book, art was considered a technical skill rather than an intellectual pursuit, and artists were mere decorators and craftsmen. It was through Vasari’s visionary writings that artists like Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo came to be regarded as great masters of life as well as art, their creative genius celebrated as a divine gift. Their enduring reputations testify to Vasari’s profound yet unspoken influence on western culture.

 

An advisor to kings and pontiffs—and a confidant to Titian, Donatello, and more—Vasari enjoyed an exhilarating career amid the thrilling culture of Renaissance Italy. In The Collector of Lives, Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney offer a lively and inviting introduction to this pivotal figure in art history, and immerse readers in the world of the Medici of Florence and the popes of Rome. A narrative of intrigue, scandal, and colorful artistic rivalry, this vivid biography shows the great works of western art taking shape under Vasari’s keen eye—and reveals how one Renaissance scholar completely redefined how we look at art.

  • Hardcover
  • 6.6 x 9.6 inches
  • 432 pages
  • Published: 2017


Editorial Reviews

“Absorbing and well-researched . . . a richly detailed life of this singular Renaissance figure.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Rowland and Charney lure readers in with a mystery of Dan Brown proportions. . . . [A]n exciting read. Rowland and Charney are at their best when explaining the workings of the 16th-century art world.” —Booklist

“Insightful, gripping, and thoroughly enjoyable.” —Sarah Bakewell

“An immersive tour of Vasari’s kaleidoscopic world, rich with court intrigue, iconographic riddles, artistic rivalries, Renaissance wordplay, naughty monkeys, and, possibly, even a lost Leonardo. Rowland and Charney have done the epic biographer proud with this affectionate, original life of the artist.” —Stacy Schiff

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