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Convito di Ester e Assuero, Vasari

On the trail of Giorgio Vasari in Arezzo

The life and memories of the artist starting from his hometown, among frescoes, paintings and architectural works

Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) was a painter, an architect, an historian and an essential figure of the early Renaissance. His name is linked to the design of the building which today houses the Uffizi Gallery, to the Salone dei Cinqucento in Palazzo Vecchio, to the biographies dedicated to the "lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects".


If we wanted to travel in the footsteps of Giorgio Vasari we should start the journey from Arezzo, his birthplace. Here, you can visit the Casa Vasari Museum, the building he purchased in 1511 and then restored and decorated with frescoes between 1542 and 1548, with the help of his students. The visit allows you to admire one of the few preserved examples of a late Renaissance artist's house as well as admire around fifty paintings from the 16th century.


Other places in Arezzo that preserve works by Vasari can also be visited: the Church of SS. Annunziata (Deposition from the Cross), the Museum of Medieval and Modern Art (Madonna with Child and Saint John the Baptist), Church of Saints Flora and Lucilla (Crowning of the Virgin) and the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art.

Vasari House Museum, Arezzo
Vasari House Museum, Arezzo - Credit: Darren and Brad

Vasari also worked as an architect, initially inspired by Michelangelo. He used the Tuscan stone a lot, but also marble, pietre dure and inlays, revisiting the ancient style with functionally new inventions. In Arezzo, he created a support for the Cathedral’s organ, the Bell-gable of Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici in Piazza Grande, he also followed, in 1554, the restructuring project for the presbytery of the Cathedral and from 1565 to 1573 he renovated the Abbey of Saints Flora and Lucilla.


Vasari’s last great work in his hometown were the Loggias, showing in all their majesty in Piazza Grande. He received the commission from the Rectors of Fraternita and the Citizens’ General Council in 1570 and the work was finished in 1593. At Vasari House Museum is preserved a wooden model of two spans, proposed by the artist in 1572.

The historical center of Cortona
The historical center of Cortona - Credit: John Morton

In the Arezzo area, the “Vasari stops” not to be missed are in Cortona, where Vasari worked at the building site of Santa Maria Nuova and on the renovation project of Santa Maria delle Querce. The Oratorio del Gesù - where the Diocesan Museum is located - was frescoed in 1555 by Cristofano Gheradi, known as Il Doceno, after a design by Giorgio Vasari, with scenes from the Old and New Testaments.

Temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria
Temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria - Credit: Mongolo1984 / WikiCommons

In the hamlet of Pozzo della Chiana (Foiano della Chiana) there is the small octagonal Temple of Santo Stefano della Vittoria, attributed to a collaboration between Vasari and Bartolomeo Ammannati.

In Castiglion Fiorentino, in the Church of San Francesco, is preserved his Madonna and Child with Saints Anna, Silvestro and Francesco, while in Monte San Savino we can find the Ascension of the Virgin between Saints Agostino and Romualdo, in the Church of Sant’Agostino.

Madonna and Child between Saints John the Baptist and Jerome, Giorgio Vasari
Madonna and Child between Saints John the Baptist and Jerome, Giorgio Vasari

Finally, the fascinating Camaldoli Monastery in the Park of the Casentino Forests preservs some important paintings by Vasari. In the Church of Saints Donato and Ilariano there are the Madonna and Child between Saints John the Baptist and Jerome, a marvelous Nativity,  to which many scholars dedicated praise in Latin verse, and the panel of the High Altar, rich in colors and lights, in which we note an important evolution in the artist's style, now outside the protection of the Medici, who in this dark period established a strong bond with the Camaldolese monks.


Original article by Katia Boccanera

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