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In his Lives of the Artists of the Italian Renaissance, Vasari demonstrated a literary talent that outshone even his outstanding abilities as a painter and architect. Through character sketches and anecdotes he depicts Piero di Cosimo shut away in his derelict house, living only to paint; Giulio Romano's startling painting of Jove striking down the giants; and his friend Francesco Salviati, whose biography also tells us much about Vasari's own early career. Vasari's original and soaring vision plus his acute aesthetic ...

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