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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rounder Than The O, parts 1928 - 1931

1928. So to meet the needs of the tourists and the dilettante the anecdote is either invented or dug up, and it fills its purpose in every field, not only in the field of art. But some anecdotes are better by far than others, and Vasari’s little stories are among the best, and for this reason.

1929. Vasari was not a writer; he was a painter and an architect. His biographies were written as an aside, during a time when he was fully involved and employed at his trade. It is for this reason that the illustrative incidents he chooses to include in his biographies are so important. The stories make us aware of the physical reality of being an artist, and what this means I will have to illustrate for you.

1930. Let us then begin with the most famous of all the Vasari anecdotes known as “The O of Giotto.” Like with the story of Michelangelo and the figs, I give it to you in Vasari’s own words so as to preserve the flavor of the time.

1931. Pope Benedict sent one of his courtiers into Tuscany to see what sort of a man Giotto was and what his works were like, for the Pope was planning to have some paintings made in S. Peters. This courtier, on his way to see Giotto and to find out what other masters of painting and mosaic there were in Florence, spoke with many masters in Sienna, and then, having received some drawings from them, he came to Florence.

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