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Giorgio Vasari (1511–1571) is well known for his celebrated work on the lives of the Renaissance artists. But not many people know that Vasari was a painter and architect as well as a biographer, and that he wrote one of the most valuable treatises on the technical methods of the painters, architects, and sculptors of his time. This is the first and only English translation of this important technical material (originally published in 1550 as an introduction to Vasari’s Lives of the Artists).
Vasari, as a practical craftsman, brings to his work as unusual understanding of the processes and materials he writes about, and conveys this knowledge to the reader in a style of the pleasantest and most readable kind. In the section on architecture, he describes the methods used in constructing rustic fountains and grottos; how Michelangelo developed new uses for architectural materials; the architectural uses of enriched plaster; the Renaissance view of Ionic, Doric, Gothic, and other types of architecture; and many similar topics.
In the selection on sculpture, the reader will learn about the making of the model, completion of the statue, reliefs, bronze casting, modelled plaster work, sculpture in wood, and other processes. The final section, on painting, discusses aesthetics, perspective, foreshortening, how colors were blended, fresco painting, painting in tempera, oil painting, and much more.
Scholars and historians of art have long used this book as the most detailed and valuable sourcebook of its time. But its full, readable discussions, combined with the sense of actuality and historical presence it contains, make it also perhaps the best possible description of the Renaissance artists in the heyday of their achievement.