Giorgio Vasari
(Arezzo 1511 – Florence 1574)

 

Allegory of patience 

 

oil on canvas
inscribed “DIVTVRNA TOLERANTIA” (lower right)
197.8 x 107.8 cm. (77.9 x 42.4 in.)
c. 1552

 

Currently on view: The National Gallery, London, Room 9

“It is with great longing that I wait for Patience, shaped by your blessed hands [Vasari] and devised by that grand old man [Michelangelo] whom everybody admires and rightly honours”.

Bishop Minerbetti in correspondence to Giorgio Vasari, K. Frey, Il carteggio di Giorgio Vasari, Munich, 1923-30, I, p. 30.

One of the central figures in art history, Giorgio Vasari was also one of the most important artists of the 16th century. Striving to live up to the Renaissance ideal of the uomo universale, he was active not only as a painter, but also as a draftsman, architect and author. It is however for his writing that he is most renowned. His Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550), a series of artist biographies through which Vasari presents his own critical history of art, have formed the conceptual foundation of modern art history, and still influences our own understanding of Renaissance art today.

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Born in 1511 in Arezzo, he started his training in the arts when still a child. Under the patronage of the Medici family in Florence, Vasari joined the workshop and circle of Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530).1 Vasari was heavily influenced by Michelangelo (1475-1564), whose work would remain a palpable inspiration throughout Vasari’s career and of which this Allegory of Patience is a prime example.2 Vasari conceived the present painting for the Bishop of Arezzo, Bernardetto Minerbetti (d. 1574) with Michelangelo’s aid, as surviving correspondence attests. The work quickly became famous and numerous copies were made, permeating the visual culture of Florence and beyond. The fascinating story and documentation surrounding the creation of this painting as well as Vasari’s autograph technique, are described by Carlo Falciani in Vasari, Michelangelo and the Allegory of Patience (2020).3

 

Maintaining his long association with the Medici family throughout his career, Vasari also enjoyed the patronage of Pope Pius V (1504-1572) in the last decades of his life. These connections lead to the most significant projects in his artistic career, such as the remodelling of Palazzo Vecchio and the decorating of several chapels in the Vatican. Following his death in 1574 in Florence, Vasari was buried in a chapel he designed in Arezzo.4

 

Notes
1. Encyclopedia Britannica, “Giorgio Vasari,” last modified April 23, 2020, accessed June 19, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Giorgio-Vasari.
2. Kelli Wood, “Giorgio Vasari,” accessed June 19, 2020, https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.3269.html#biography.
3. Carlo Falciani, Vasari, Michelangelo and the Allegory of Patience, (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2020).
4. Wood, “Giorgio Vasari.”

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National Gallery’s Caroline Campbell, Director of Collections and Research, and Matthias Wivel, Curator of 16th-century Italian paintings, in conversation with prof. Carlo Falciani about our painting and the book. The book is available for purchase here, in English and Italian.

With Bernadetto Minerbetti, Bishop of Arezzo (d. 1574), from 1552, thence by descent;
The Klesch Collection.

New discovery.
Currently on view at The National Gallery, London.

New discovery.
Falciani, Carlo, “Vasari, Michelangelo e l’ ‘Allegoria della Pazienza’,” Paragone, LXX, no. 837, November 2019.
Falciani, Carlo, Vasari, Michelangelo and the Allegory of Patience (London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2020).

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