Giorgio Vasari, Life of Marcantonio of Bologna and Other Engravers of Prints, Florence (1568)

Source: British Library: 137.d.14-16, Part Three, Vol 1, pp. 294-299 Title page

Giorgio Vasari, Life of Marcantonio of Bologna and Other Engravers of Prints, Florence (1568), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Full title:
Giorgio Vasari, Life of Marcantonio of Bologna and Other Engravers of Prints (addition to second edition of 1550 The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Archtects)

Full title original language:
Giorgio Vasari, Vita di Marcantonio Bolognese, e d'altri intagliatori di stampe, primo volume della terza parte Delle vite de' piu eccelenti pittori, scultori e architettori

Dürer was the most copied Renaissance artist. When his prints appeared for the first time in Italy, they caused a sensation. According to Vasari's 'Life of Marcantonio and Other Engravers of Prints' (1568) - a supplement to the second edition of his 1550 'Lives of the Artists' - the young Marcantonio Raimondi saw Dürer's woodcuts in the Piazza of San Marco and began to counterfeit them selling with the monogram of Albert Dürer (AD). Vasari's account claims that Dürer came in person to Venice and laid complaint against Raimondi for plagiarising his prints. Vasari's story is not true in all its details but, since Marcantonio Raimondi omitted the famous monogram from his later copies of Dürer prints after about 1510 (replacing it with an empty tablet), it is plausible that this law-suit did take place. The discussion of Marcantonio engravings after Dürer's woodcuts has since Vasari been centred on an idea of a plagiarist stealing artistic property when it is probably more fruitful to set it in the context of Renaissance Culture of practical collaboration and legitimate copying in order to learn from the great masters. Vasari himself suggested that Michelangelo's pictures were the ultimate model to be imitated: 'Indeed, painters no longer need to seek new inventions, novel attitudes clothed figures, fresh ways of invention or sublime subjects, for this work contains every perfection possible under those headings. You artists should strive to imitate Michelageno in everything you do.'

Commentary: No commentaries for this record.

  • Thornton, Dora, 'The Use of Dürer Prints as Sources for Italian Renaissance Maiolica', in G. Bartrum (ed.), Albrecht Dürer and his Legacy, (London: British Museum, 2004)

  • Shoemaker, Innis, 'The Engravings of Marcantonio Raimondi' (Lawrence, Kansas, 1981).

  • Pon, Lisa, 'Raphael, Dürer, and Marcantonio Raimondi: Copying and the Italian Renaissance Print' (New Haven and London: Yale U.P., 2004)

  • Lambert, Susan, 'The Image Multiplied: Five Centuries of Printed Reproductions of Painting and Drawings' (London: Abaris Books, 1987)

  • 'Dürer through Other Eyes: his graphic work mirrored in copies and forgeries of three centuries', An exhibition prepared by students in the Williams College/Clark Art Institute Graduate Program in Art History, March 14 to June 15, 1975 (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, 1975)

  • 'Dürer's Passions', Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (2000),

  • Borea, Evelian, 'Vasari e le stampe', Prospettiva 57-60 (1989-90): 18-38.

Related documents in this database:
1511: Imperial Privilege for Albrecht Dürer
1504: A woodcut by Albrecht Dürer plagiarized by Marcantonio Raimondi

Author: Giorgio Vasari

Publisher: Giunti

Year: 1568

Location: Florence

Language: Italian

Source: British Library: 137.d.14-16, Part Three, Vol 1, pp. 294-299 Title page

Persons referred to:
Dürer, Albrecht
Pius V
Raimondi, Marcantonio

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:



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