Fig. 1. Giorgio Vasari, Fine Arts, endpiece, Vite, 1550
Fig. 2. Giorgio Vasari, Fine Arts, frontispiece, Vite, 1568
Fig. 3. Giorgio Vasari, Painting, 1542, Casa Vasari, Arezzo
Fig. 4. Giorgio Vasari, Sculpture, 1542, Casa Vasari, Arezzo
Fig. 5. Giorgio Vasari, Architecture, 1542, Casa Vasari, Arezzo
Fig. 6. Giorgio Vasari, Poetry, 1542, Casa Vasari, Arezzo
Fig. 7. Giorgio Vasari, Painting, 1560s, Florentine sala, Casa Vasari, Florence
Fig. 8. Giorgio Vasari, Sculpture, 1560s, Florentine sala, Casa Vasari, Florence
Fig. 9. Giorgio Vasari, Architecture, 1560s, Florentine sala, Casa Vasari, Florence
Fig. 10. Giorgio Vasari, Poetry, 1560s, Florentine sala, Casa Vasari, Florence
Fig. 11. Giorgio Vasari, Music 1560s, Florentine sala, Casa Vasari, Florence
Giorgio Vasari's Fine Arts: Neoplatonic Visualization of Invention, Imitation and Beauty
Liana De Girolami Cheney
During the sixteenth century, artists consulted emblematic and mythological manuals as a source for their visual conceits.
With a moral overtone, these manuals contain verbal and visual
representations of virtues, vices, passions and temperaments, revealing
a Neoplatonic philosophy.
This essay analyzes Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)’s assimilation of
Neoplatonism in his artistic concepts of invention, imitation and
beauty depicted as visual conceits in woodcuts of The Fine Arts in the Vite (1550 and 1568 editions, figs. 1 and 2) and in his paintings of Fame and the Fine Arts
(1542 and 1560, figs. 3-6 and 7-11) in his homes at Arezzo and
Florence. The conception for these visual designs reveal Neoplatonic
influence based on Vasari’s aesthetic and art theory.
Enkindled by this humanistic approach, Vasari summarizes his
artistic intentions, aesthetic theory, and historical view of art in
his writings and in his paintings. In Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, sculptori ed architectori
(1550 and 1568 editions), he expounds his theoretical quest in some
length in the prefaces, dedicatory letters and technical manual.
In his artistic practice, he depicts images associated with the Fine
Arts in the frontispieces. Here, Vasari reveals his source of
creativity, including conceits of invention, imitation and beauty,
which in turn are inspired and derived from Marsilio Ficino’s
Vasari’s concept of creativity originates in God, whom he refers to
as “Divine Architect of time and of nature” in the First Preface of the
Vite. His view on God as the architect of the universe is
based in the Bible of the Middle Ages and, in particular, in Saint
Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica (I.17, 1. ro.3), where he
says, “God, Who is the first principle of things, may be compared to
things created as the architect is to things design (ut artifex ad artificiata).” In his Self-Portrait of
1565 at the Uffizi, Vasari depicts himself as an architect, standing in
front a table where attributes of architecture and drawing instruments
are visible. Not by whim, he points to an architectural drawing of his
house at Arezzo.
Vasari’s conception of creativity is further explained and
elaborated on as historical construct composed of an organic scheme or
historical progression. In the second preface, he defines history as
“the true mirror of human life.” This historical view is interpreted in the Vite in two distinct ways: in the trio of prefaces (proemi) and the biographies of artists (Vite).
The prefaces present an almost cyclical view of history, determined by
the laws of nature instead of by specific historical events, while the
biographies (vite) explain the historical process in the
evolution of each artist’s accomplishments. Vasari visualizes the
analogy of history with the mirror’s reflection of human life in the Endpiece of 1550. In the imagery, the elliptical composition resembles the shape of a mirror or the shape of a cartouche with the mascheroni where female herms simulate the movement of the wheel of fortune. A well-known Medieval image is the Wheel of Fortune of 1372 in the pavement of the Duomo of Siena. Vasari’s Endpiece may also allude to a type of honorific medal, similar to the Renaissance medal of Matteo de’ Pasti’s Leon Battista Alberti of 1446.
The structural aspects allude to the symbolic imagery depicted in
the center of the composition – the Fine Arts (Sculpture, Architecture
and Painting). Located at the bottom of the design, dormant and
recumbent figures are awakened by Fame’s sonorous trumpet and flaming
torch. These figures represent the deceased artists who have excelled
in their artistic careers by “mirroring nature” (imitating nature). The
enlivened depiction of the personifications of the Fine Arts allude to
one or more of their artistic accomplishments finally recognized by the
efforts of Vasari. The motif of the Wheel of Fortune signifies the
artistic efforts brought to light, even if time has passed, by the
publication of the Vite.
In the 1568 edition, the center image of the Title Page has
a square rather than an oval shape. Virgilian inscriptions are inserted
around the square, asserting and reinforcing the significance of the
The imagery of the 1568 edition is more complex that the imagery of the
1550 edition, for example, an energetic Fame vigorously blows her
triple trumpet, and numerous images depicting deceased artists arise
from the ground.
Earlier, in his house at Arezzo, in the Chamber of Fame, Vasari
continues with the Quattrocento and Cinquecento tradition of
immortalizing artists and their art with paintings of the
personifications of the Fine Arts. He provides a general
characterization of this ceiling in his autobiography: “I painted (on
the ceiling) . . . all the Arts connected with design or dependent on
design.” In the middle Fame, seated on a terrestrial globe, blows one
golden trumpet with one hand and discards another into a fire with the
other hand, this latter trumpet symbolizes slander. Around her are all
the Arts, with their attributes.  In his Florentine house, in the walls of the sala, Vasari repeats the same imagery of the Fine Arts, but without the personification of Fame in the ceiling.
The Fine Arts or the Arts appear on the ceiling of the Chamber of
Fame as Painting, Sculpture, Architecture and Poetry. A personification
of the Fine Arts is common in the humanistic art of the Italian
Renaissance with examples including Pisani’s pulpits, the reliefs on
Giotto’s Campanile, the reliefs on the Ducal Palace in Venice, the lost
frescoes of the Eremitani in Padua, the Spanish Chapel in Florence, and
later the figures in the Tempio Malatestiano, Pollaiuolo’s Papal Tomb,
and Dosso’s Sala del Tribunale in Trento.
In describing the function of the Fine Arts, Vasari stresses the element of disegno (drawing or design) as the underlying quality that unites them. In the second edition of the Vite, he continues with this idea, explaining what he means by disegno
and why it rules creation in the Arts: “Seeing that Design, the parent
of our three arts, Architecture, Sculpture and Painting, has its origin
in the intellect and draws out from many single things a general
judgment, it seems like a form or idea of all the objects in nature.
Afterwards, when it is expressed by the hands and is called Design, we
may conclude that Design is none other than a visible expression and
declaration of our inner conception and of that which others have
imagined and given form to in their ideas.”
Vasari goes on to observe that in the Arts “the chief use (of
design) in Architecture is because its designs are composed only of
lines, which so far as the architect is concerned are nothing else but
the beginning and the end of his art. In Sculpture, drawing (design) is
of service in the case of all the profiles, because in going round from
view to view the sculptor employs design when he wishes to delineate
the forms which please him best, or which he intends to bring out in
every dimension. In Painting, the lines are of service in many ways,
but especially in outlining every figure, because when they are well
drawn, and made correct and in proportion, the shadows and lights that
are then added give the strongest relief to the lines of the figure and
the result is all excellence and perfection.” Vasari visualizes these conceits in the Aretine Chamber of Fame, in the Florentine sala as well as in the Vite’s frontispieces of 1550 and of 1568.
The addition of Poetry to the realm of the Arts is most revealing, since it alludes to the Renaissance Neoplatonic concept of furor poeticus,
poetic inspiration. This concept derives from the writings of the
Neoplatonic philosopher, Ficino, who explains in his Orphic writings
that there are four forms of inspiration or divine frenzy: divine, prophetic, amorous and poetic. For Ficino, Orpheus is an exceptional poet because he possesses these Platonic furors, and in particular, one of these furors, furor poeticus or the frenzy of the poet, an intellectual force, which is intuitive, creative and contemplative.
In Cinquecento art, the paradigm for the pictorial representation of Orpheus/Apollo and the muses is Raphael’s Parnassus and Poetry (Numine Afflatur), in the ceiling of the Stanza della Segnatura. Some years after Raphael’s rendering, the conceits of ut pictura poesis and furor poeticus become so popular that even Andrea Alciato and Vincenzo Cartari have an emblematic entry for it in their books. The artistic conception of ut pictura poesis
fascinates Vasari, evidence his portrayal of the personification
Painting, Poetry and Music several times in his homes in Arezzo and
At Arezzo, in the Chamber of Apollo, the Muses and Apollo are jointly
portrayed, and in the Chamber of Fame, Poetry is depicted among the
Fine Arts, while Painting is drawing a portrait of a poet, Dante. In
the Florentine sala, Vasari portrays a fellowship between the Liberal Arts, restating the concepts of furor poeticus and ut pictura poesis by including Poetry and Music as part of the realm of the Fine Arts.
In the Chamber of Fame, the concept of furor poeticus or
poetic inspiration is manifested not only by the depiction of Poetry,
but by the fact that all the Fine Arts are themselves seen to be in the
process of creating an art form. And in his writings, Vasari relates
the concept of furor poeticus to the creation of visual art.
As Vasari states, “Many painters achieve in the first design (disegno) of their work, as though guided by a sort of inspirational fire (furor poeticus), something of the good and a certain measure of boldness; but afterwards, in finishing it, the boldness vanishes.”
Vasari’s explanation of artistic creativity is based fundamentally on
the Italian Renaissance tradition, which considers creativity to be a
faculty present in all of human activity.
In his writings and visually, Vasari equates the furor poeticus with furor artisticus as he includes in the Aretine Chamber of Fame, Poetry among the Fine Arts. In the Florentine sala,,
he not only includes Personification of Poetry, but also adds the
depiction of the Personification of Music in the realm of artistic
inspiration. Years later, Vasari writes in I Ragionamenti,
“It is permissible for the brush to treat philosophical subjects as
narrative, since poetry and painting, as sisters, use the same means.” Also years earlier, in his letter De musica
to Canisianus, Ficino describes how singing and instrumental music
start from the mind, the imagination and the heart of the player.
Vasari captures in painting what Ficino is expressing in music.
The concept of furor poeticus and ut pictura poesis is restated in this sala,
as the allegorical figure of Poetry is part of the realm of the Fine
Arts, and the narrative stories illustrate the triumph of painting.
The inclusion of the personification of Music to the Fine Arts adds a
new dimension to Vasari’s interpretation of art. The Florentine sala
portrays a fellowship between the Liberal Arts; their depictions
suggest Vasari’s awareness of the Cinquecento artist’s need to
cultivate the auditory and visual senses.
These ideas about artistic creativity combine with the conception of
poetic inspiration in relation to yet another central idea, ut pictura poesis:
as is painting, so is poetry. Derived from Horace, the phrase is
frequently employed by artists and theoreticians of the Cinquecento,
including Leonardo, Dolce, Lomazzo, and Vasari himself. The idea of ut pictura poesis
captures the complementary nature of poetry and painting, equating the
inspiration of the poet with the imagination of the painter. Both are
concerned with the imitation of nature, the painter through the use of
visual elements line, color, tone, texture and shape the poet through
words. Leonardo, commenting on the versatility of the painter, remarks
about this parity: “And if a poet should say: ‘I will invent a
fiction with a great purpose,’ the painter can do the same, as Apelles
painted Calumny . . . If poetry deals with moral philosophy, painting
deals with natural philosophy. Poetry describes the action of the
mind, painting considers what the mind may effect by the motions. If
poetry can terrify people by hideous fictions, painting can do as much
by depicting the same things in action.” In his Dialogue on Painting, Dolce expressed similar sentiments, characterizing the poet as a parlante dipintore, a speaking painter; the painter as a poeta mutolo, a mute poet. Years later, Vasari writes in I Ragionamenti,
“it is permissible for the brush to treat philosophical subjects as
narrative, since poetry and painting, as sisters, use the same means”
(“E lecito al pennello trattare le cose della filosofia favoleggiando;
atteso che la poesia e la pittura usano come sorelle i medesimi
For Vasari, the notion of Fame or artistic recognition is associated with the artistic conception of ut pictura poesis as he visualizes it in the Aretine chamber and the Florentine sala
by including Poetry in the realm of the Fine Arts. For example, in the
Aretine chamber, Painting is depicting a portrait of a man holding a
scroll – this man is the poet Dante –  whereas in the Florence sala, Vasari depicts Painting portraying an orator.
Furthermore, Vasari’s conception of artistic creativity is related
to this theory of painting. He considers that there are two
alternatives in a painter’s development or achievement of artistic
creativity: imitation (imitazione) and invention (invenzione).
Imitation is the copying of art as a method of learning, whereas
invention is independent of imitation and constitutes the means for
conceiving artistic ideas. Imitation serves to guide and teach the
artist in composing and creating perfection. For Vasari, imitation
draws upon three different sources: the first two are copying visual
forms from nature or copying from a model (copia dal vero), and the third is selecting images from one’s work (imitare se stessi). He emphasizes that copying from nature is important for the artists so that they may learn to create forms that are alive.
It also helps artists learn how to draw in such a way that eventually
they are capable of drawing anything from memory without the need of a
model. In the Aretine chamber and Florentine sala, the Fine Arts appear to be creating from memory, as no model is visible.
Vasari adds another intellectual faculty to imitation, the notion of giudizio
(judgment). This is necessary when copying or selecting from nature,
from one’s work and from other masters in order to improve the artistic
design. In doing so, artists’ conceits are an improvement on nature,
and artists may claim that they surpassed nature. Thus, for Vasari,
artists must study not only nature, but also antiquity and other
masters, so that they may learn how others acquire the experience of
The third aspect of imitation, where the artist copies or quotes
from his own work, reveals as well the manner in which the Arts surpass
nature. Vasari finds examples of this achievement in the works of
Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael. In the Chamber of Fame, Vasari quotes from his own work of the Fine Arts in the Florentine sala in the depiction of the Fine Arts and in the frontispieces. In addition, the oval shape of the ovati, with the portraits of the artists, derives from the same shape of the ovati in the woodcuts with portraits of the artists from the second edition of the Vite. A unique study for the frontispiece in the collection of Anthony Blunt reveals Vasari’s quest for disegno
as well as his desire to integrate the Fine Arts with the relevant
creative and artistic skill of the artists: in Vasari’s case, for
example, adding the personification of painting and architecture to the
cartouche of his vita. In addition, in his collection of artists’
drawings for his book on Libro de’ Disegni, Vasari once again designs a cartouche with the artist’s attributes, surrounding the imagery with actual drawings of the artist.
Around the Chamber ceiling and Florentine sala, each image
of the Fine Arts is creating a work of art through a fusion of
imitation and invention. Here, the viewer finds Vasari’s pictorial
commentary on the methods and classification of the Fine Arts, which
he later elucidates in words in the prefaces of the Vite. Thus, Vasari visualizes his aesthetic theory of art.
Vasari’s aesthetics (the word aesthetic derives from the Greek aesthesis–sensation)
are concerned with the nature of the beautiful as it exists in art and
nature as well as with the physicality and spirituality of beauty.
For Vasari, apprehension of a visual form in nature must arouse a
sensation of beauty. The notion of beauty exists at two levels:
physical and spiritual. The physicality of beauty is perceived in the
painted image and Vasari’s spirituality of beauty is reflected in the
evocation of the visual experience. His philosophy of art depends upon
the philosophical and poetical tradition of the Quattrocento and
Cinquecento – in short, the Italian Renaissance restatement of
Neoplatonism. In accordance with the Neoplatonic theory of beauty,
Vasari understands beauty to be a divine creation, writing ” He [God]
fashioned the first forms of painting and sculpture in the sublime
grace of created things.”
Consequently, he refers to beauty as symmetry and proportion of form
and associates the beautiful with Plotinus’s concept of radiance or
splendor, an element that results from the quality of unity inherent in
Correspondingly, Vasari absorbs from Ficino’s Commentary on Plato’s “Symposium” about Love, the ancient Greek philosopher’s definition of beauty “as the splendor of divine goodness
present everywhere, personal beauty expresses an interior moral
goodness,” as well as Ficino’s explanation of beauty as “a process of
ascent from sensual cognition of earthly beauty to the apprehension of
the immortal ideal of beauty itself.”
By appropriating from Ficino the interconnection between love and
beauty, Vasari also embraces Ficino’s notion of the essence of beauty
that consists in proportion. This is the ancient doctrine of the
symmetric and pleasant relationship of individual parts. According to
Vasari, the origin of beauty derives from order and proportion (la
bellezza nasce da ordine e proporzione), and he relates the concept of
beauty with goodness (bellezza e bontà). Vasari is obviously following Ficino. In the Symposium,
Ficino discusses how many things are required to create a beautiful
body, such as arrangement (means the distance between parts),
proportion (means quantity), and aspect (means shape and color). He
further analyzes how the proportioning of the parts have their natural
position: “That the ears be in their place, and the eyes and nose,
etc., and that the eyes be at equal distances near the nose…proportion
of the parts…preserve the proper portion of the whole body.”
Thus, Vasari’s aesthetics derives jointly from the classical
conception of physical beauty and from the Neoplatonic notion of
spiritual beauty. That is to say, for Vasari the classical concept of
beauty means a creation of a beautiful image from the combination of
parts of the body commensurately and proportionately arranged as a
whole, as represented in his paintings of The Studio of Zeuxis (1548) in his house at Arezzo, and The Studio of Apelles (1560) in his house in Florence.
In contrast, for Vasari the Neoplatonic spiritual beauty meant the
manifestation of vivacity, radiance, and grace in the image perceived
through reason and sight in order to move the human soul and delight
the spirit, as illustrated in the frontispieces of the Fine Arts, the Toilette of Venus of 1555, and St. Luke Painting the Virgin of 1562.
Vasari describes his depiction of Fame as having “the trumpet in the
mouth, the one of fire in hand, and the world below” (“la tromba in
bocca, quella di fuoco in mano, il mondo sotto”),
and as “a female figure holding two trumpets, one of gold, and the
other of fire, and seated about the world” (“una femmina con due trompe
in mano una d’oro, l’altra di fuoco, e che segga sul mondo”). Vasari further explains that the personification of Fame “sings and praises the deeds of the virtuous.”
In part, his conceit for the allegory draws upon the traditional
Cinquecento depiction, which represents Fame as winged, bare-breasted,
seated or standing on a globe and, most importantly, holding up two
trumpets (Polidoro da Caravaggio and Domenico del Barbiere), or blowing
a trumpet (Francesco Salviati).
These elements combine in Vasari’s painting to provide Fame’s
affirmation of success. Fame’s act of blowing is reminiscent of
Alciatos’s Emblem 119, Ex literarum studiis immortalitatem acquiri, in whichNeptune or Triton blows a conch. Alciato’s composition is encircled by a snake (oroburos).
However, Vasari’s deviation from this traditional depiction is as
marked as his adherence to it. In addition to holding the trumpet,
which affirms achievement, Vasari’s Fame also casts away a flaming
trumpet, a sign of the rejection of slander. The latter appears to be
solely a Vasarian invention, as he explains in his autobiography:
“Fama suona una tromba d’oro, gettando via una di fuoco, finta per la
maldicenza” (“Fame blows a golden trumphet and discards one with fire,
symbol of slander”). According to Ripa, the figure of Slander (Maledicenza) is portrayed as holding a flaming torch in each hand, symbolizing the fomentation of slander by hate.
Vasari’s Fame thus takes on a dual role of the affirmation of Fame and
Glory on the one hand and the rejection of Slander on the other hand.
His concern with slander surely derives from the sort of reflections
proffered by Virgil, with whom he was familiar. Virgil discusses the
fickleness of fame and the difficulty of overcoming it: “Fame can as
quickly depart or detract from one’s life as it can enter and benefit
it in the first place. One danger is the propensity of others to
slander those who achieve fame. If fame is to be sustained, then the
threat of slander must be nullified.”
It is interesting to note here that the artists portrayed beneath the
depiction of Fame each manages to sustain the fame they achieve in
their respective lives. In her affirmative role, the allegorical
figure of Fame is blowing the golden trumpet in the direction of the
allegorical figure of Painting. Assuming this not accidental, Vasari
refers to his early success as a painter as being due to his training
with Michelangelo and Andrea del Sarto, whose portraits are seen in the
ovati located below Fame and adjacent to Painting. In the
frontispieces, Vasari continues with the elaboration of Fame honoring
the artists who embrace the Fine Arts.
The composition of the frontispieces is composed of three parts: at
top is the depiction of Fame blowing two or three horns, recalling
images of Fame blowing trumpets from the Aretine chamber, Francesco
Salviati’s drawing of Fame of 1547, and Michelangelo’s trumpeters in the Last Judgment
of 1541 in the Sistine Chapel. In the middle of the composition, second
part, are seated the Fine Arts on a mountaintop. This top symbolizes
Mount Parnassus or the Mount of Muses where the Fine Art residing as
in Raphael’s Parnassus of 1510, in the Stanza della
Segnatura at the Vatican. The last part is below the Fine Arts, where
Vasaari depicts an abysm filled with nude human bodies, being awakened
by the loud sound of the trumpets, an allusion to a call for
recognition of their artistic achievements. This section visually
recalls the calling on a Judgment Day, as depicted in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment of 1541-43, in the Sistine Chapel, and Giulio Clovio’s Last Judgment of 1545, from
the Farnese Book of Hours. Although the last judgment association
appears to be negative, Vasari’s depiction is benevolent and alludes to
the eternal recognition of artists’ achievements. Displaying the new
conception of art and the new role of artists, Vasari honors the virtue
of Fame among the Fine Arts and recognized artists. At the center of
the frontispieces, Fame blows her golden trumpet toward the Fine Arts,
to acknowledge their creative significance as well as those artists who
successfully pursue them.
Vasari’s depiction of the Fine Arts in the paintings and in the
frontispieces expresses the Cinquecento artist’s sentiments regarding
the aim, value, and status of both the artist and the arts. Art is no
longer considered a craft based on imitation and technique, but rather
a noble humanistic endeavor requiring, as with poetry, invention.
Likewise, the artist is to be regarded not as artisan, but as a
creative, educated being and a member of a humanist society. The
artist who would fully pursue this enhanced status must endeavor to
demonstrate the qualities and capacities presented by Baldassare
Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier (1517). Castiglione notes that it is the touch of fame and glory upon one’s life that establishes a reputation and immortality.
Among the requirements securing and enhancing one’s status as a
gentleman are knowledge of the liberal arts, especially painting, the
construction of a memorial––preferably in painting––to one’s
achievements, and the possession of personal nobility achieved through one’s ancestry, deeds and personal attributes.
In many respects, the paintings and frontispieces are a testimony to
this social and cultural upgrading of art and the artist. It
demonstrates that Vasari heeds the counsel of Castiglione, Vasari
providing evidence of his own nobility, as manifested by the fruits of
his talent, in representing himself surrounded by the Fine Arts in his
houses and less evident in the frontispieces and endpieces of the Vite.
Figura - Studi sull'Immagine nella Tradizione Classica, nº 1, 2013.
 The most important of these are Francesco Colonna’s Hypnertomachia Poliphili (Venice 1499), Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica (Venice 1505), Andraea Alciato’s Emblemata (Basel 1529; Lyon 1531, 1546, 1546; and Venice 1551), Lelio Gregorio Giraldi’s De Deis Gentium (Paris 1548), Natale Conti’s Mythologiae (Paris 1551/1558), Pierio Valeriano’s Hieroglyphica (Venice 1556), Paolo Giovio’s Dialogo dell’Imprese Militari et Amorose (Venice 1556), and Vincenzo Cartari’s Imagini delli Dei degl’Antichi ( Venice 1556-57). See also Mario Praz, Studies in Seventeenth Century Imagery (London/Rome: Phaidon, 1941, 1947 and 1964), Introduction, and Jean Seznec, The Survival of the Pagan Gods (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1961), pp. 279–327.
 Praz, Studies in Seventeenth Century Imagery, II, pp. 5, 36 and 139; George Boas’ translation of The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo
(New York: Bolligen Series, XXIII, 1950, based on the 1505 version
published by Aldus Manutius in Venice); and Daniel Russell, “Alciati’s
Emblems in Renaissance France,” Renaissance Quarterly, XXXIV
(1981), p. 549. Russell defines the importance of Alciato’s book in
Cinquecento art and literature: “[It] served as a manual to train
readers in a particular approach to artistic artifacts. It taught them
to participate actively in the moralizing of visual art, and it showed
them how to fragment texts––mainly poetic or dramatic texts; it would
appear––into short passages that they could summarize into titular
 The title of the 1550 edition is Le
vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani, da
Cimabue insino a’ tempi nostri nell’edizione per I tipi di Lorenzo
Torrentino Firenze, 1550. This earlier title is changed in the edition of 1568 to Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori. See the invaluable comparative study of Rossana Bettarini and Paola Barocchi on the 1550 and 1568 editions of Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de’ più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori (Florence: Sansoni, 1971-1986). Hereafter referred as Bettarini-Barocchi. For this note, see Bettarini-Barocchi I, p. xvii.
 Bible moralisé, Paris, c. 1220-1230, folio 1 verso, in BL Harley MS 1527, f.27.
 See Bettarini-Barocchi, III, pp. 3-20.
 The imagery depicts the King
enthroned at its summit, and three other figures clasping it at
opposing points. Four philosophers of antiquity are portrayed in
hexagons placed at the four corners of the panel: Epictetus, Aristotle,
Euripides, and Seneca, each with an unwound scroll inscribed with
sayings about fortune.. See Bruno Santi, The Marble Pavement of the Cathedral of Siena (Florence: Scala, 1982), Introduction.
 “Hac sospite nunquam hos periisee
viros, vitos avt morte fatebor” (“While history lives, it would never
be said that artists’ work has perished”). See Liana De Girolami
Cheney, “Giorgio Vasari’s Studio, Diligenza ed Amorevole Fatica,” in
Reading Vasari, Anne B. Barriault, ed. (London: Wilson Publishers,
2005), pp. 259-75.
 With the imagery of resurrected bodies, no doubt, Vasari is visually referring to his highly praised Michelangelo’s Last Judgment of 1541-43, in the Sistine Chapel.
 Gaetano Milanesi, ed., Le vite de’ più eccellenti Pittori, Scultori, et Architettori (Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1970–1974), VII, p. 671. Herewith cited as Vasari-Milanesi.
 J. von Schlosser, “Giustos Fresken in Padua und die Vorläufer der Stanza della Segnatura,” Jahrbuch der Kunst, Sammlungen des Allerhochsten Kaiserhauses (Vienna 1896), pp. 13–100; P. D’Ancona, “Le rappresentazioni allegoriche delle arti liberali,” L’Arte (1902), pp. 13, 221–27, 269–89 and 370–85, pp. 137, 211, 269 and 370); Raymond van Marle, Iconografie de l’art profane au moyen–âge et à la Renaissance, Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1932), II, p. 203-6); L. Réau, Iconographie de l‘Art Chrétien, Paris: Presses universitaries de France, 1955–1959), I, pp. 154–162; and F. Gibbons, Dosso and Battista Dossi (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), pp. 52–53, for an interesting discussion on the Liberal Arts.
 Vasari-Milanesi, II, 93–107; L. Maclehose and G. B. Brown, Vasari on Technique,
New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), pp. 205–207); M. Winner,
“Poussin Selbstbildnis im Louvre als kunsttheoretische Allegorie,” Römanisches Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte (1983), pp. 417–48.
 Vasari-Milanesi, II, pp. 93–107.
 Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology: Concerning the Immortality of the Soul (1474, VIII, p. 16) quoted by Panofsky in Erwin Panofsky, Studies in Iconology (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1962), p. 137, n. 22. See Marsilio Ficino, Commentary on Plato’s Symposium, trans. S. R. Jayne (Columbia: University of Missouri, 1944); and Clement Salaman, ed. Meditations on the Soul: Selected Letters of Marsilio Ficino
(Rochester, VT: Inner Tradition International, 1996), pp. 64-75.
Another probable source is Leon Battista Alberti’s treatise On Painting where he describes painting as highest among the Arts because “it contains a divine force.” See L. B. Alberti, On Painting, ed. and trans., R. Spencer, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), pp. 90–91; Rudolph and Margot Wittkower, Born under Saturn (New York: W. W. Norton, 1969), p. 15; and R. Klein, La forme et l’intelligible (Paris: Gallimard Editions, 1970), Introduction.
 Ficino, Platonic Theology (1474, VII, pp. 14–15) quoted by Panofsky in Studies in Iconology, p. 140, n. 36.
 Andrea Alciato, Emblemata (Lyon 1546), p. 61. See also, Andrea Alciato, Emblemata (Basel 1529), Italian ed. and trans. by Guilliame Roville as Diverse
impresse accommodate a diverse moralita con versi che i loro
significati dichiarono tratte da gli Emblemi dell’ Alciato (Lyon, 1549); Peter M. Daly, ed. Andreas Alciatus’ Index Emblematicum (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985), 2 vols.; and Vincenzo Cartari’s Imagine delli Dei de gl’Antichi (Venice 1556-1557).
 Liana De Girolami Cheney, The Homes of Giorgio Vasari (London/New York: Peter Lang 2006), pp. 91-106 and 158-62.
 Vasari-Milanesi, V, p. 260.
 Marsilio Ficino, Platonic Theology: Concerning the Immortality of the Soul (1474, VII, pp. 14–15), quoted by Panofsky in Studies in Iconology, p. 140, n. 36.
 Vasari-Milanesi, VIII, p. 18: “E
lecito al pennello trattare le cose della filosofia favoleggiando;
atteso che la poesia e la pittura usano come sorelle i medesimi
 Wolfram Prinz, “Vasari’s Sammlung von Kunstlerbildnissen,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz (1966),
p. 22). It has been argued whether the Louvre drawing of Poetry
was actually designed for Poetry in the Florence sala. See C. Monbeig-Goguel, Vasari et son temps: Inventaire General des dessins Italiens du Musée du Louvre (Paris:
Editions des Musée Nationaux, 1972). The stylistic similarities between
the drawing and the painting suggest their relationship. The Uffizi
drawing of hands could also be a study for Poetry.
 Ficino’s Platonic Theology: Concerning the Immortality of the Soul (1474, VIII, p. 16), quoted by Panofsky in Studies in Iconology, p. 137, n. 22, and André Chastel, Marsile Ficin et L’Art (Geneva: Droz, 1996), pp. 81-89.
 Anthony Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), p. 52.
 Dolce’s Dialogo della Pittura, trans., M. Roskill (New York: New York University Press, 1968), pp. 97 and 239, and Gian Paolo Lomazzo’s Trattato dell’ arte della pittura, scultura et architettura (1584), summarizes Leonardo’s and Dolce’s conceptions of the relationships between poetry and painting. See R. Lee, Ut Pictura Poesis: Humanist Theory of Painting (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1967), p. 1, n. 2; G. B. Armenini, De’veri precetti della pittura
(1587), p. 23, comments on this fashion: “Per cio si chiama la
pittura, Poetica che tace, et la Poetica, Pittura che parla, et questa
l’anima dover esser, et quella il corpo, dissimile pero quin questo si
tengono, perche, l’una imita con i colori, l’altra con le parole. Ma
certamente che qui quanto all’ inventione predetta et quin quanto alla
Verita sono d’una stessa proprietà et d’uno effetto medesimo.” Torquato
Tasso refers as well to the poet as a pittore parlante (speaking painter) in Del Poema Eroico (1587).
And in a letter to Vasari, Annibale Caro refers to the artist as a poet
and painter: “L’inventione mi rimetto a voi, ricordandomi d’un altra
somiglianza, che la poesia ha con la pittura, et di più, che voi siete
cosi poeta come pittore, et che ne l’una et ne l’ altra con più
affettione et con più studio s’ esprimono i concetti et le idee sue
proprie che d’altrui.” See Karl Frey ed., Der literarische Nachlass Giorgio Vasaris (Munich: George Müller, 1923), I, p. 220. Letter 112 dated May 10, 1548. See also K. Borinski, Die Antike in Poetik und Kunsttheorie von Ausgang des klassichen Altertums bis auf Goethe und Wilhelm von Humboldt (Leipzig: K. F. Koehler, 1914–1924), I, pp. 30, 97, 175, 183, 238; II, pp. 106, 125–127, on the history of the dispute about ut pictura poesis and L. Mendelsohn, Paragoni: Benedetto Varchi Due Lezzioni and Cinquecento Art Theory (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982), pp. 109–142.
 Vasari-Milanesi, VIII, p. 18.
 Compare Vasari’s portrait of Dante with Raphael’s in the Parnassus of 1512-14, Stanza della Segnatura at the Vatican.
 Vasari-Milanesi, II, pp. 95–96. See Erwin Panofsky, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1968), pp. 60–63, and The Elder Pliny’s Chapters on the History of Art, trans., K. Jex–Blake and E. Sellers, New York: Macmillan, 1968), Pliny 35:84).
 Wolfram Prinz, “I ragionamenti del Vasari sullo sviluppo e declino delle arti,” in Il Vasari: Storiografo e Artista (Florence: Istituto di Studi sul Rinascimento, 1976), pp. 857–67.
 Vasari-Milanesi, I, p. 99, and Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy, pp. 88–90.
 Blunt, Artistic Theory in Italy, p. 90.
 Vasari-Milanesi, IX, I, p. 18; IV, 84; and IV, p. 83.
 Philip P. Wiener, ed. Dictionary of the History of Ideas (New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1974), Vol. III, pp. 510-12; Jayne, Marsilio Ficino, pp. 89-91; and, Laura Vestra, “Love and Beauty in Ficino and Plotinus,” in Ficino and Renaissance Neoplatonism, ed., Konrad Eisenbichler and Olga Zorzi Pugliese (Toronto: Dovehouse Editions Canada, 1986), pp. 179-80.
 Vasari-Milanesi, Preface I, p. 93.
 Jayne, Marsilio Ficino,
p. 90. Ficino explains how Beauty is the splendor of the divine
countenance, pp. 89-91; Vestra, “Love and Beauty in Ficino and
Plotinus,” p. 185, and Liana De Girolami Cheney, Botticelli’s Neoplatonic Images (Potomac, MD: Scripta Humanistica, 1993), pp. 32-34.
 Vasari-Milanesi, VII, p. 710 and V, p. 386.
 Jayne, Marsilio Ficino, pp. 93-95.
 Liana De Girolami Cheney, “Vasari’s Depiction of Pliny’s Histories,” Explorations in Renaissance Culture,
Vol. XV, 1989, pp. 97-120, and, Fredrika Jacobs, “Vasari’s Vision of
the History of Painting: Frescoes in the Casa Vasari, Florence,” Art Bulletin, 66, 1984, pp, 399-416.
 Erwin Panofsky, Idea: A Concept in Art Theory, pp. 129-41.
 Alessandro del Vita, Lo Zibaldone di Giorgio Vasari (Rome: R. Istituto Archeologico e Storia dell’Arte, 1938), pp. 22-24.
 Del Vita, Lo Zibaldone, p. 108.
 Vasari-Milanesi, VII, pp. 60, 350.
 Polidoro da Caravaggio’s Fame from the Salone of the Villa Lante (now in the Bibliotheca Hertziana); Domenico del Barbiere’s Gloria (engraving); and Francesco Salviati’s Fame from the fresco cycle of the Sala dei Fasti Farnesiani in the Palazzo.
 Andrea Alciato, Emblemata (Lyon: Guillaume Rouille, 1549), Emblem 109.
 Cesare Ripa, Iconologia, ed. Erna Mandowsky (New York: George Olms Verlag, 1970), p. 302.
 Ripa, Iconologia, p.
142, quoting Virgil. “La fama e un mal, di cui non pui veloce e nessun
altro, e di volubilezza sol vive, & caminando acquista forze,
piccola al timor primo, e poi s’inalza fino alle stelle.”
 Baldassare Castiglione, The Book of the Courtier, trans. George Bull (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967), p. 92.
 Castiglione, pp. 96–97.