1. home
  2. /
  3. Giorgio Vasari
  4. /
  5. Painter and architect from Arezzo

Giorgio Vasari

Giorgio Vasari was born in Arezzo on the 30th of July 1511. He was the son of Antonio Vasari, a merchant of textiles, and Maddalena Tacci. Vasari began his apprenticeship in Guillaume de Marcillat’s workshop; de Marcillat was a french painter and a master glassmaker who lived and worked in Arezzo. Vasari then continued his studies in Florence, thanks to the cardinal Silvio Passerini, tutor of Ippolito and Alessandro de’ Medici. This led to Vasari’s entrance inside Medici’s court and the continuation of his humanistic studies. During his first stay in Florence, Vasari attended Andrea del Sarto’s workshop and Baccio Bandinelli’s drawing academy.

The end of Medici’s government and the death of his father, in 1527, brought Vasari back to Arezzo in order to manage the bad situation in which his family was. In those years he made some early works in the city. The presence of Rosso Fiorentino influenced Vasari’s early paintings.

In 1529 Vasari went back to Florence, where he studied gold art with Vittore Ghiberti and between 1531 and 1532 he travelled to Rome, under the protection of cardinal Ippolito de’ Medici with Francesco Salviati, with whom Vasari studied classical art and the works of Raffaello and Michelangelo.

Duke Alessandro de’ Medici was murdered in 1537 and so Vasari left Medici’s court and, the subsequent years, travelled and painted. Among the most important orders are the tables for SS. Donato and Ilariano’s church in Camaldoli (1537-1540), tables and frescoes for the refectory of Saint Michele in bosco’s monastery in Bologna (1539-1540), the table “Allegory of the Conception” for the Apostles’ church in Florence (1540), the collaboration with Pietro Aretino for the “Talanta” inside the hall of Sempiterni and the decorations of Corner-Spinelli Palace both in Venice (1541-1542), and the tables and frescoes for Saint Mary’s monastery in Monteoliveto, Naples, between 1544 and 1545.

From time to time, Vasari travelled to Arezzo where, in 1541, he had bought a piece of land and a house in the part of town called “San Vito” (now XX Settembre street). The decoration of the rooms in this house was finished in 1548.

In 1545, Vasari was in Rome and was accepted inside the court of Alessandro Farnese who wanted him to paint the frescoes for the Chancellor’s palace. Having met Michelangelo and other roman scholars, Vasari began to write the first edition of “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” published in Florence by Lorenzo Torrentino in 1550, the year in which Vasari married Niccolosa Bacci.

During the first half of the 1550s, Vasari was in the papal court of Pope Julius III, for whom Vasari frescoed the Monte Chapel in San Pietro in Montorio and designed Villa Giulia together with Bartolomeo Ammannati and Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola.

From 1554, Vasari became the favourite artist of Cosimo I de’ Medici. In Florence, Vasari had some important orders, founded the Academy of art and drawing in 1563 and was the leading person for big architectural works such as the restoration of Palazzo Vecchio (from 1555), the renovation of the church of Santa Croce (1565-1567), the church of Santa Maria Novella (1566-1568), the design of the Uffizi palace (from 1560) and the Corridoio Vasariano (from 1565).

Vasari also worked at the Carovana palace in Pisa (1562-1564) and at the Vitelli chapel of St. Francesco’s church in Città di Castello, painting the “Coronation of Virgin Mary”. He travelled through Italy to gather information for his “Lives” that was published for the 2nd edition by Giunti in Florence in 1568.

Some of Vasari’s last works, carried out with the help of his apprentices are Francesco I de Medici’s study in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence (1572), the design of the Palace of the Logge in Arezzo (1572), the frescoes for the regent’s room in Vatican for Pius V (1573) and the decoration for the Dome of Florence, that was finished by Federico Zuccari after Vasari’s death.

Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, Giudizio Universale (1572-1579; fresco; Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore)

Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, Giudizio Universale, detail (1572-1579; fresco; Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore)

Giorgio Vasari and Federico Zuccari, Giudizio Universale, detail (1572-1579; fresco; Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore)

Giorgio Vasari, Perseo libera Andromeda (1570-1571; oil painting on blackboard, 117×100 cm; Florence, Museum of Palazzo Vecchio)

Giorgio Vasari, Ultima Cena (1546-1547; oil on board, 262×660 cm; Florence, Basilica di Santa Croce)

Giorgio Vasari, Tentazioni di San Girolamo (1541; oil on board, 165×117 cm; Florence, Palazzo Pitti)

Giorgio Vasari, Incredulità di San Tommaso (1572; oil on board, 420×270 cm; Florence, Basilica di Santa Croce)

Giorgio Vasari, Immacolata Concezione (1541; tempera on board; Florence, Church of Santi Apostoli)

Giorgio Vasari, La fucina di Vulcano (1555-1556; fresco; Florence, Museum of Palazzo Vecchio)

Giorgio Vasari, Allegoria della Giustizia (1543; oil on board, 352×252 cm; Napoli, National museum of Capodimonte)

Giorgio Vasari, Adorazione dei Magi (1566-1567; oil on board, 65×48 cm; Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland)

Giorgio Vasari, Annunciazione (1564-1567; oil on canvas, 216×166 cm; Paris, Louvre)

Giorgio Vasari, Allegoria della Speranza (1542; oil on board, 178,4×79,4 cm; Venezia, Gallery of the Academy)

Giorgio Vasari, Disegni preparatori per le scenografie per la “Talanta” di Pietro Aretino (1541; brown ink on blue paper, 25×34 cm; Paris, Louvre)

Tiziano Vecellio, Ritratto di Pietro Aretino (1537 circa; oil on canvas, 99×82 cm; New York, Frick Collection)

Giorgio Vasari, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Giorgio Vasari, Carovana palace and Church of Santo Stefano dei Cavalieri, Pisa

Giorgio Vasari, Villa Giulia, Rome