Giorgio VasariThe Book of Drawings. The Fate of a Legendary Collection


31 March – 18 July 2022

Giorgio Vasari

The Book of Drawings. The Fate of a Legendary Collection

31 March – 18 July 2022

Giorgio Vasari created what was probably the first collection of drawings based on a historicising logic: the legendary Libro de’ disegni, widely mentioned in the second edition of The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, published in Florence in 1568 by the Giunti house. On 29 June 1574, two days after the death of Vasari, his heirs handed over the Book to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco I, who had sent for it. After that, it disappeared.

The great 17th- and 18th-century collectors and connoisseurs all dreamed of acquiring and believed they owned drawings from the Book. The most famous among them, Pierre-Jean Mariette, sparked a tradition viewing a certain type of decorative and architectural mount as indicating a sheet’s former belonging to Vasari’s legendary collection.

It is now known, however, since in 1950 two great scholars, Arthur Popham and Philip Pouncey, noticed a mysterious emblem on a ‘Vasari mount’, that things are not as simple as that. This exhibition, organised by the Louvre and the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, focuses on the unexpected consequences of that discovery made over half a century ago.

Organised by:

Louis Frank, Musée du Louvre, and Carina Fryklund, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.


The exhibition is sponsored by Canson.


Exhibition Catalogue

Selected Works

  • Attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, Seven Studies of Heads Saint John the Baptist as a Child

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