Translation of Vasari’s history of Leonardo da Vinci to be published

‘The Life of Leonardo da Vinci,’ Thames & Hudson, 128 pages, 40 illus., $14.95 hardcover, ISBN: 9780500239858. Thames & Hudson image

NEW YORK – Ahead of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, The Life of Leonardo da Vinci, a long-awaited new translation of Giorgio Vasari’s compelling life story of one of history’s most extraordinary artists, will come out March 5.

Giorgio Vasari’s The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550 and 1568) is a classic of cultural history. In his monumental assembly of artists’ lives, none is more vivid than that of Leonardo da Vinci, a near-contemporary of Vasari, who paints a fascinating picture of the progress of art at the hands of the master.

The Life of Leonardo da Vinci, published by Thames & Hudson, presents a long-awaited new translation of Vasari’s entry on one of history’s most extraordinary artists, edited and introduced by da Vinci scholar Martin Kemp, emeritus professor of history of art at the University of Oxford and author of the prize-winning Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvelous Works of Nature and Man and the memoir Living with Leonardo: Fifty Years of Sanity and Insanity in the Art World and Beyond.

This new translation, prepared in partnership with Lucy Russell (also of the University of Oxford), preserves Vasari’s compelling narrative and respects his meaning with new precision. It is the first time that The Life of Leonardo da Vinci is published with illustrations of all the works of art discussed by Vasari, along with a selection of da Vinci’s studies of science and technology, and works by other artists.

This beautiful edition is also the first to integrate the text of the 1550 edition and that of the expanded 1568 edition, each identified by different colors and fonts, allowing readers to appreciate sections that were omitted from the second edition and sections that were added to the first edition, guided by annotations in Kemp’s lengthy introduction to the book.