VASARI, Giorgio (1511-74). Le vite de' piu eccellenti pittori, scultori, e architettori. Florence: Giunta, 1568.
3 parts in 3 volumes, 4o (230 x 157 mm). Roman type, prefaces in italic. Woodcuts: architectural and figural title-borders composed of two blocks, incorporating Medici arms at top and with inset vignette view of Florence at bottom, allegorical woodcut on verso of part 1 title, showing the awakening of the souls of dead artists, set within the inner border block with a legend in the cartouche, repeated at the end of part 3 (6H3v), medallion portrait of Vasari on B4v set within the same inner border block with Florence view in cartouche, the portrait repeated on 6D1v, 144 medallion portraits of artists, set within 6 different borders of female figures representing the arts (copied from frescoes in the Casa Vasari at Arezzo), 8 borders with portrait spaces left blank, woodcut printer's devices at ends of vols. 2 and 3, woodcut initials, typographic ornaments. With the stamped last line on K4v (vol. 1), without the MS correction on TT3r (vol. 1), with, as usual, the printed cancel label correcting the artist's name on 3R4r (vol. 3) and the MS correction to leaf 5Y3r (vol. 3) described by Mortimer. (Title borders shaved, a few marginal repairs, vol. I with tiny hole in title border, vol. II, g4 with small hole to image, and corner repaired, affecting catchword, some browning at end.) 18th-century calf with central gilt coat-of-arms of the Earl of Rockingham (rebacked, old spine laid down). Provenance: Giouan Gatta Brace (early owner's signature on title); Earl of Rockingham (coat-of-arms on binding).
FIRST ILLUSTRATED AND FIRST COMPLETE EDITION of Vasari's monumental collection of biographies of the principal Italian artists and architects of the Renaissance -- the word was coined by him -- including the then still under-appreciated Cimabue and Giotto. This second edition, published 18 years after the first, bears a new dedication to Cosimo de' Medici, and is greatly expanded, adding biographies of 28 more recent artists, including Titian, an autobiography and a treatise on artistic techniques. The exceptionally expressive woodcut portraits were designed by Vasari and cut by various wood engravers including a "Maestro Christofano," either Cristoforo Coriolano or Cristoforo Chrieger. Although some of his histories contain apocryphal anecdotes, Vasari's work, called "the first modern history of art" (PMM 85), remains the foremost authority on the artists of one of the most fertile periods in the history of western art. Adams V-296; Gamba 1725; Harvard/Mortimer Italian 515; PMM 88. (3)