Artists and Their Biographies

Part of the The Plenum Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


Well before the interest in the possible psychological purposes of art, and quite likely as a precursor of it, there developed an interest in the personality of the artist. We take it as axiomatic that the latter came with the Renaissance, and this for two quite simple reasons: artists not only ceased being anonymous, they also came to be understood and valued as individuals with ambitions and peculiarities—and style. When Vasari was persuaded in 1546 by Cardinal Alexander Farnese to write a history of modern art, he set out to discuss individually all the Florentine artists whom he considered important (and some from outside Florence, as long as they could claim a connection) and to list their most important works. But the “lives” in the three-volume book that resulted are more like résumés than biographies, and they are made individual only by their brief introductions, each of which attempts to capture some essential quality of the artist or his fate. Thus Simone Martini is introduced with these words:

Most truly may those men be called happy who are by nature disposed to the cultivation of the arts, for not only may they derive great honour and profit therefrom in their lives, but what is more important, they secure never-dying fame. Still more fortunate are they who to such dispositions add a character and manners calculated to render them acceptable to all men …. (Lanvin, Vasari, 1550/1967)


Cognitive Style Creative Writer Great Honour Psychodynamic Theory Painterly Style 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, Santa CruzSanta CruzUSA

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