The Terminology of the Technique Part (Introduzzione alle arti) in Vasari's 'Vite'

Ming Gao | China Scholarship Council

The first page of "Introduzzione" in the Giuntina edition of Vasari's "Vite"

Vasari's Vite has been recognized as a book containing a huge list of vocabularies that defining artistic styles and artistic techniques. The vocabularies could be divided into two categories: technical lexicon and literary lexicon. The Introduzzione contains most of the technical terms that will recur throughout the Vite. These artistic terms are inherent in Renaissance art (Vasari's own words "vocaboli della nostril arte"), Vasari used them to illustrate the practice of painting, sculpture and architecture. However, this technique part of Vasari's Vite is mostly omitted in the translations into other languages and the research on it is much less compare to the extensive research on these individual biographies.

This project is a systematic analysis of artistic terms in Vasari's Introduzzione in order to understand Vasari's "vocaboli della nostri arti" correctly. The theory is mostly based on my three presented papers with a focus on the theories of artistic terms in Renaissance art: Ghiberti's Language Contextthe Lexicography and Index of Vasari's Vite; Roberto Longhi's Anachronic Terms.

The project is divided into three parts: the first part is a Chinese translation of the technique part with commentaries; the second part will furnish an analysis of circa 500 key artistic terms, chosen by means of a rigorous selection process (mostly from Grassi's Dizionario dei termini artistici and Barocchi's Il Lemmario artistico nelle Vite di Vasari and also including a list of new terms chosen by myself), the analysis of each term is divided into three parts: (1) etymology; (2) an overview of the term's use in Vasari and in Renaissance art literature more broadly; (3) images of artworks that illustrate the meaning of each term in question; the third part is to examine the sources of Vasari regards to his writings on technique.


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