The Easel

The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art

Vasari was a fearsome gossip. His saving grace was that in 1550 he wrote a book on Italian art and artists that established art history. Artists were viewed as merely skilled labourers but Vasari argued that authorship was all-important. “When Francis I … could write to Leonardo [Da Vinci], Raphael, Michelangelo and humbly request something, anything, by their hand, it marked a drastic change from old ways of