Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori … nuovo ampliate … co’ ritratti loro et con le nuove vite dal 1550 insino al 1567, con tavole copiosissime de’ nomi, dell’opere, e de’ luoghi ou elle sono.

Florence, Giunta, 1568.

2 parts (of 3) in one vol., 4to, pp. i: [80], 224, 229-239, [1 (ornament)], ii: ‘141’, 242-444, ‘449’, 448-529, [1 (ornament)]; pagination and register continuous; variant title with woodcut illustration within architectural frame, woodcut medallion portrait of Vasari and of each artist within architectural frames, woodcut initials and ornaments; title rubbed and minorly trimmed, light foxing in places, occasional damp-stain to lower margin; contemporary Spanish limp vellum with manuscript Gothic lettering to spine, tawed ties to fore-edge (partially lost), edges speckled red, sewn on 3 thongs (of which one laced in), end-bands around twisted thongs laced in, spine-lining of printed waste, upper endpaper watermarked with a blazon (a lion?) and lower with initials (‘FCP’?); lightly dust-stained, front endpapers detached from block; contemporary manuscript note to title verso, early ink shelfmarks to top-edge, lower pastedown, and title, later book label of James Patrick Cooke to upper pastedown.


US $5121€4363

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Le vite de’ piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, et architettori … nuovo ampliate … co’ ritratti loro et con le nuove vite dal 1550 insino al 1567, con tavole copiosissime de’ nomi, dell’opere, e de’ luoghi ou elle sono.

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First illustrated edition, second overall, of ‘the first critical history of artistic style’ (Grove). Though first published in 1550, it was the 1568 edition which served as ‘the basis for all subsequent editions and translations’ (ibid.), having been thoroughly revised and expanded in response to Vasari’s further research in the intervening two decades and to the influence of Vincenzo Borghini. Where the first edition had been quite strict in its form as a collection of biographies, the second included chapters grouping artists by region or nationality and others with broader discussion of artistic genres and techniques, a change ‘required to incorporate the enormously increased volume of information’ (ibid.).

‘While the first edition owed much to Paolo Giovio’s rhetorical model of historiography, the second edition bears the stamp of Borghini’s factual approach. Borghini wanted Vasari to write a general history of Italian painting and sculpture. According to Borghini, Vasari’s efforts should not concentrate on biographical details of the artists, but on the discussion of their works, including detailed information on their location and subject … Borghini’s influence should not be overestimated, however, as the essential ideas and opinions in the second edition remain Vasari’s own.’ (ibid.).

The 1568 Vite are also notable as the first edition to be illustrated throughout: the only illustration to the 1550 edition, an allegorical woodcut depicting the resurrection of the souls of deceased artists, is here reworked and printed on the title, while each life is accompanied for the first time by a fine medallion portrait, most likely cut in Venice by either Christoforo Coriolano or Christoforo Chrieger after Vasari’s own drawings.

The present copy is in the second and scarcer of the two known settings, with the last line of text on K4v printed (absent in the first), ‘Fiorentinore’ corrected to ‘Fiorentino’ on 2T3, and the allegorical woodcut printed on the title (more often seen on the verso).

EDIT16 48229; USTC 862081; Adams V296; Mortimer 515.

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