Giorgio Vasari's Fine Arts: Neoplatonic Visualization of Invention, Imitation and Beauty
During the sixteenth century, artists consulted emblematic and mythological manuals as a source for their visual conceits. With a moral overtone, these manuals contain verbal and visual representations of virtues, vices, passions and temperaments, revealing a Neoplatonic philosophy. This essay analyzes Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574)’s assimilation of Neoplatonism in his artistic concepts of invention, imitation and beauty depicted as visual conceits in woodcuts of The Fine Arts in the Vite (1550 and 1568 editions, figs. 1 and 2) and in his paintings of Fame and the Fine Arts (1542 and 1560, figs. 3-6 and 7-11) in his homes at Arezzo and Florence. The conception for these visual designs reveal Neoplatonic influence based on Vasari’s aesthetic and art theory.