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‘The First Art Historian’

If you have taken any art history classes, you have probably heard of Giorgio Vasari, known for being ‘the first art historian’. He invented the first example of artistic biographies. He was the first to use the term ‘Renaissance’ in print and was responsible for our use of the term Gothic Art, though he only used the word Goth which he associated with the ‘barbaric’ German style. Also, Vasari was one of the earliest authors to use the term ‘competition’ in its economic sense.

Of course, we account for his bias toward Italian and more specifically Tuscan Art. Venetian art in particular (along with arts from other parts of Europe), is systematically ignored in the first edition. Furthermore, there is no doubt he added grandiose lies to endorse the magical powers of great artists, such as the tale of young Giotto painting a fly on the surface of a painting by Cimabue that the older master repeatedly tried to brush away.

Regardless, the Italian artists that he chose to write on endures as the standard to this day. The Art history he laid down has formed the conceptual basis for renaissance scholarship and continues to influence perception of the history of painting. Born July 30th, 1511, Happy Birthday week Giorgio!

‘Art owes its origin to Nature herself… this beautiful creation, the world, supplied the first model, while the original teacher was that divine intelligence which has not only made us superior to the other animals, but like God Himself, if I may venture to say it.’ -G.V