Already a student
of Guglielmo da Marcilla, Vasari removed to Florence when he was just
13 years of age to continue his studies under Michelangelo, Andrea del
Sarto and Baccio Bandinelli. Later, after a four-year period in Rome,
1542-6, highlighted by the major painting cycle that he executed for
the Palazzo della Cancelleria [Chancellery] under the patronage of Cardinal
Farnese, Vasari returned to Florence.
In Florence he
began a series of projects for the ruling Medici family that was to
occupy him for the rest of his career. Among his legacies there are
the extensive reworking of the interior of the Palazzo Vecchio
[Old Palace] (including design of the Studiolo [Little Study]
of Francesco I, 1570-5, and of the Salone dei Cinquecento [Hall
of the Five Hundred] celebrating the victories of Cosimo I), construction
of the Uffizi [Offices, now the famous museum], begun 1560 (completed
by Buontalenti), and the remarkable Vasari Corridor, 1564, the elevated
passageway connecting the Uffizi with the Pitti Palace (the residence
of Francesco I across the Arno River almost a kilometre away).
Vasari also executed
major painting cycles for the Duomo [cathedral] of Florence and
the Sala Regia [Royal Hall] at the Vatican. His early portrait
of Lorenzo the Magnificent, c. 1533, and his painting Vulcan's
Forge are now in the Uffizi collection in Florence. His self-portrait
is shown above.
fame, however, derives from his historic contribution to art history,
Delle Vite de piu' Eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, ed Architettori
[Lives of the Greatest Painters, Sculptors and Architects], published
in Florence in 1550 and succeeded by a revised and enlarged edition
in 1568. The success of the work resulted not only from its broad assembly
of facts, many of which have required correction by later scholars,
but from Vasari's astute and largely unbiased critical judgments.