The Collector of Lives

Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art

Noah Charney (Author), Ingrid Rowland (Author)

Overview | Formats

“Readers curious about the making of Renaissance art, its cast of characters and political intrigue, will find much to relish in these pages.” —Wall Street Journal

Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) was a man of many talents—a sculptor, painter, architect, writer, and scholar—but he is best known for Lives of the Artists, which singlehandedly established the canon of Italian Renaissance art. Before Vasari’s extraordinary book, art was considered a technical skill, and artists were mere decorators and craftsmen. It was through Vasari’s visionary writings that Raphael, Leonardo, and Michelangelo came to be regarded as great masters of life as well as art, their creative genius celebrated as a divine gift.

Lauded by Sarah Bakewell as “insightful, gripping, and thoroughly enjoyable,” The Collector of Lives reveals how one Renaissance scholar completely redefined how we look at art.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • November 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35636-6
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 432 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Gracefully written.” — Deborah Solomon, New York Times Book Review

“[An] intricate and mesmerizing gem of a book for those who enjoy reading about the lives of artists and placing the Renaissance within a greater context.” — Richard Rivera, New York Journal of Books

“Lively… [an] engaging study.” — Stephen Greenblatt, New York Review of Books

“Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney give full measure to [Giorgio Vasari’s] artistic skills (and the diplomatic adroitness he needed to exercise them) and place him again at the centre of 16th-century Italian art.” — Sunday Times

“An insightful and gripping new book.… Ms Rowland and Mr Charney draw a panoramic view of the art-world during the Renaissance, placing Vasari at the centre.… This is an important book and long awaited. The authors have done a commendable job of returning to his rightful place the man who inflated the reputation of art and artists so successfully that he himself was squeezed out of the picture.” — Economist

“Insightful, gripping, and thoroughly enjoyable.” — Sarah Bakewell

“An immersive tour of Vasari’s kaleidoscopic world, rich with court intrigue, iconographic riddles, artistic rivalries, Renaissance wordplay, naughty monkeys, and, possibly, even a lost Leonardo. Rowland and Charney have done the epic biographer proud with this affectionate, original life of the artist.” — Stacy Schiff

The Collector of Lives is a fitting tribute to Giorgio Vasari—a book as entertainingly readable as Vasari’s own gossipy tales. Rowland and Charney put this vital figure in Western culture into new contexts and perspectives, offering compelling insights that will entice and satisfy art amateurs and scholars alike.” — Ross King

“A refreshingly sharp and original study of the man who almost single-handedly invented the very discipline of art history. Vasari emerges from this book as a visionary but also as an unscrupulous wheeler-dealer in artistic reputations: a magnificent teller of truths, but also an outrageously inventive liar. Anyone interested in the Renaissance simply has to read it.” — Andrew Graham-Dixon

“Ingrid Rowland writes about artists of the past with an easy intimacy grounded in the deepest erudition. Her project is one of reclaiming classical art and artists from cant, and bringing them, up close, into our own time. Together with coauthor Noah Charney, Rowland gives us a view of the sixteenth century art world that is uncannily familiar to a student of modern and contemporary art. Reading this book, we feel we know Vasari—that he is one of us.” — David Salle

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