ⓘ Libro de' Disegni


ⓘ Libro de Disegni

The Libro de Disegni was a collection of drawings gathered, sorted and grouped by Giorgio Vasari whilst writing his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. By the time of his death in 1574 it is thought to have contained around 526 drawings, of which 162 are now in the Louvre and 83 in the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. There are also drawings from the Libro in the prints and drawings departments of the Uffizi, the British Museum, the Albertina, the National Gallery of Art and other institutions.


1. Origins and dispersal

Some art historians believe they were gathered to illustrate Vasaris Lives directly, as a visual index of the artists works, whilst others believe it was a separate document in its own right. In his preface to the Lives, Vasari described his reasons for writing:

When I took on the task of writing about the life of the great artists. I made a choice, which I have also explained, between what was good, what was better and what was perfect. I carefully pointed out the techniques, aspects, styles, particularities and fantasies of painters and sculptors. I also tried my best to reveal to those who did not succeed alone the causes and origins of different styles, and the ascending or descending curve followed by arts in different epoques and among different characters

No text reveals why Vasari compiled his collection of drawings, but it was probably to illustrate the styles of the different artists he wrote about and to show how he had divided them "into three parts, or rather let us call them periods, between the rebirth of the arts and our own time - each of these is distinguished from the others by manifest differences". The earliest drawing in the collection was by Cimabue and the latest dated to Vasaris own time. In the 1550 and 1568 editions of the Lives Vasari insisted on drawings as documents which allowed the viewer to perceive the maniera of the great masters of painting and mentioned when he owned one or two drawings by a particular artist, such as at the end of his life of Filippo Lippi: and in his life of Sandro Botticelli.

Giorgio Vasari was one of the founders of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno set up in Florence by Cosimo I of Tuscany in 1563. He and the other founders wished to use this academy to promote artists above the status of artisans. He was also a passionate collector of drawings and in his Libro he set them in his own paper frames and gathered drawings by one or more painters on a single sheet. In 1528 he received a collection of Lorenzo Ghibertis drawings, as one of Ghibertis descendants.

After Vasaris death, the sheets of the Libro were initially bought in 1574 by the Florentine collector Niccolo Gaddi 1537-1591. They were then sold by Gaddis heirs before 18 May 1638, the date of death of Lorenzo Sabbatini, who had been put in charge of the Libro. They were then dispersed among the Medici, Arundel, Quesnel, Crozat and Mariette collections during the 17th and 18th centuries.


2.1. Collections Louvre

The first drawings from the Libro de Disegni to enter the French national collection were bought by Everhard Jabach, probably when the Arundel collections were sold in 1646 and 1654 after his and his widows deaths. They then passed from Jabach into Louis XIVs drawings collection in 1671. Further sheets from the Libro were added when the French royal collection bought part of the collection of Mariette in 1755 and when Saint-Moryss collection was seized by the revolutionary government in 1793. These later additions may have originated in the sale of the Crozat collection, for which a catalogue survives. Part of the Mariette collection was sold to the royal collection in 1775. Other pages entered the French national collection from emigre goods seized by the revolutionary government and via gift and purchase.


2.2. Collections Stockholm

The museum acquired 83 drawings from the Libro as part of the Pierre Crozat and Carl Gustaf Tessin collections. They include Domenico Ghirlandaios Head of an Old Man, a study for his 1490 painting An Old Man and his Grandson, now in the Louvre.


3. Bibliography

  • in French Catherine Monbeig-Goguel, Giorgio Vasari: Dessinateur et collectionneur, XXXVIe exposition du Cabinet des dessins du musee du Louvre, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1965
  • Arthur Ewart Popham, Drawings from the collection of Giorgio Vasari, p. 153-155, British Museum Quarterly, 1936
  • in French Catherine Monbeig Goguel, Le dessin encadre, p. 25-31, Revue de lArt, annee 1987, No. 76 online
  • in French Giorgio Vasari, Les vies des meilleurs peintres, sculpteurs et architectes, edition commentee sous la direction dAndre Chastel, Du texte à limage. Dessins du "Libro", Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1989 ISBN 978-2-701307541
  • Per Bjurstrom, Italian Drawings from the Collection of Giorgio Vasari, National Museum, Stockholm, 2001 ISBN 9789171006264
  • in French Catherine Monbeig Goguel, Dessins italiens au musee du Louvre, deuxieme moitie du XVIe siecle artistes nes apres 1500 et morts avant 1580. Vasari et son temps, Editions des Musees nationaux, Paris, 1972 ISBN 978-2-711800124, presentation du livre: p. 823-824, Ecole pratique des hautes etudes. 4e, Sciences historiques et philologiques, annee 1972 read online
  • in French Alphonse Wyatt, Le Libro dei Disegni de Vasari, p. 339-351, Gazette des beaux-arts, octobre-novembre-decembre 1859 online
  • in Italian Licia Ragghianti Collobi, Il Libro de’ Disegni del Vasari, Vallecchi, Florence, 1996 ISBN 9788825200188
  • in French Stefania Caliandro, Le Libro de Disegni de Giorgio Vasari: un metatexte visuel, Presses universitaires de luniversite de Limoges, 1999 ISBN 2-84287-128-6 Sample
  • Andrew Morrogh, Vasaris Libro de Disegni and Niccolo Gaddis Collection of Drawings: The Work of Gaddis "Chief Framer", conference paper at the RSA Annual Meeting, New York, NY, Hilton New York, 2014
  • Otto Kurz, Giorgio Vasaris Libro deDisegni, Old Masters Drawings, 1937

  • Urbino: Istituto Statale d Arte del Libro SBN IT ICCU BVE 0654829. Giulio Briani 1976 Tre favole vere. con disegni di Emilio Greco. Roma: Trevi. SBN
  • Rubens estate. Some of his drawings originated in Vasari s noted Libro de Disegni portfolio. In 1661 62 and 1671 he ceded much of his collection to
  • as the middle drawing from the bottom part of a page from Vasari s Libro de Disegni This drawing was originally attributed to Piero della Francesca
  • death he had even acquired for himself the whole of Giorgio Vasari s Libro de Disegni Between 1586 and 1590 he was put in charge of the Uffizi s painting
  • humanists - Leonardeschi - Leonardo da Vinci - Leonardo s robot - Libro de Disegni - Limoges enamel - Lira da braccio - Little Masters - Lives of the
  • Apotheosis of Cosimo I Defeat of the Venetians in Casentino Vasari s Libro de Disegni Giorgio Vasari with drawings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, and Raffaellino
  • the young judges of the Critici in Erba of the Fiera Internazionale del Libro per Ragazzi di Bologna Bologna Children Book Fair gave an award to their
  • EB Libros MEMORIAS DE EL Y YO. VOLUMEN 1. Aparicion del yo alejamiento de el Quintela, EB Libros Sabela P. MIGUEL SERRANO EB Libros MEMORIAS
  • Guttadàuro ed altre poesie: con disegni di Vincenzo Cabianca, Onorato Carlandi, Giuseppe Cellini, Enrico Coleman, Mario de Maria, Cesare Formilli, Alessandro
  • Bruno Contardi and Giovanna Curcio eds In urbe architectus: Modelli, disegni misure. La professione dell architetto Roma 1680 1750, Rome: Argos Edizioni