|Giorgio Vasari, Self Portrait c1567|
With the Lives, Le vite de più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori, published in 1550 and enlarged in 1568, Giorgio Vasari inaugurated the modern discipline of Art History. The narrative of the lives and accomplishments of individual Italian artists is accompanied by a general view that attempts to identify local and regional schools, establish artistic genealogies, discuss individual developments and evaluate the contributions of each artist and group of artists to the general panorama of the visual arts in Italy. Beyond the anecdotic, Vasari tries to create a unified and ordered perspective, and stresses the importance of the visual arts in the great cultural transformations of the times. Fact and myth, original research and hearsay, personal taste and larger theoretical perspectives, analytic and rhetorical approaches are indeed mixed in the pages of the Lives. This, however, does not diminish the importance and influence of the work as a pioneering effort and inaugural model.