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The Intersection of Art and Literature: Vasari’s Lives

Weekend Course

Sunday, March 27, 2022 - 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0686A
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$30 - Non-Member
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Giorgio Vasari, self-portrait

Save when you purchase The Intersection of Art and Literature spring series!

The notion that a picture is worth a thousand words is meant to convey the power of imagery. But what of the power of words—if they are personal interpretations of art that mix fact and fiction such as Giorgio Vasari’s Lives, or the writings of Dante and Shakespeare that inspired Auguste Rodin, or Émile Zola’s written defense of his great friend Édouard Manet’s work—and the portrait it inspired.  

Explore the alchemy that occurs at the intersection of art and literature in this fascinating Sunday afternoon series with David Gariff, senior lecturer at the National Gallery of Art.

Session Information

Vasari’s Lives

Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574), from the region of Tuscany in Italy, was a painter, architect, engineer, writer, and historian. His Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550/1568) is a foundational book in the historiography of art. The analysis and opinions expressed in the book, however, display a consistent and notorious bias in favor of Florentine and other Tuscan artists. The book tends to attribute to them most of the important developments in Renaissance art while ignoring the artists of Venice and other parts of Europe. However, after visiting Venice, his second edition gave more attention to Venetian art—even including Titian—although without achieving a completely impartial point of view.

Many of Vasari's biographies have the ring of truth, while others are inventions or fictions. But his aesthetic judgment was acute and dependable, especially when his subjects were Italian artists and architects of his own generation, like Michelangelo, as well as those of the immediate past.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Additional Sessions

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.