National Galleries of Scotland acquire Scotland's first painting by Vasari

  • 18 May 2006

The National Galleries of Scotland have acquired Scotland's first painting by 16th-century Italian painter, architect and biographer Giorgio Vasari, with the help of a £70,000 Art Fund grant.

The painting is one of only four by Vasari in British public collections. The total cost of the piece was £580,046.

The Adoration of the Magi (c. 1566-7) is a small-scale replica of a large altarpiece begun by Vasari in 1566 for the newly elected Pope Pius V. It is characteristic of the artist’s exquisitely finished paintings, overflowing with figures and intricate accessories and bearing astonishing attention to detail.

Vasari is perhaps better known for his book, The Lives of the Most Excellent Architects, Painters and Sculptors, which earned him his reputation as the father of art history. However, he was also a hugely successful and prolific draughtsman, painter and architect. He travelled extensively in Italy from the 1530s onwards, working on commissions for altarpieces, vast allegorical murals, devotional or cabinet pictures and temporary decorations. Amongst his high-ranking patrons were Cosimo de’ Medici and Pope Pius V.

The Adoration of the Magi records the scene where Christ is visited by the three wise men, or magi. With its dense composition and rich detail, the painting is a classic product of Florentine High Mannerism, and epitomises a particular taste at the Medici court for exquisitely finished, jewel-like cabinet paintings.

Related Links