The First Art Historian Giorgio Vasari and His Influence on the Lithuanian Art History: Joseph Sounders on Szymon Czechowicz


  • Austėja Šmigelskaitė



historiography of art, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, virtus, originary image, memorialisation, artist’s portrait


The article discusses the first Lithuanian art historical publication by proffessor and art historian Joseph Saunders, who read it in Vilnius University in November 1815. The article titled “Knowledge about Szymon Czechovicz’s Life and Creations” is considered to be the beginning of historiographical research in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Similarly to the first art historian Giorgio Vasari and his “Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” (published in 1550), Saunders reminds his readers of a forgotten painter (who made multiple portraits and religious scenes), and underlines his accomplishments and talent.

Following the Vasarian tradition, Saunders brings attention to Czechovicz’s life, his character, and his approach to art. Much like Vasari, Saunders is interested in the artist’s soul, virtues and morale, and is emphasizing their importance in his philosophic reflections about art and artists.

By comparing Saunders’ article with the scheme of the “Lives” by Vasari, the paper suggests that Vasari could have been a model art historian, and argues that his methods of analysis were applied by Saunders in the 19th century.

Author Biography

Austėja Šmigelskaitė

finished the Italian Philology studies in Vilnius University where she worked on her art historical study of Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives”, analysing his work using “Die Kunstliteratur” by the Viennese School proponent Julius von Schlosser. Šmigelskaitė is currently studying art theory at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, and her main research area is Italian culture during the Renaisssance and Baroque periods, the spread of Italian art and culture in Lithuania and neighbouring countries during the same periods, and reflections in the work of humanists.

Reproduction of page spread from Jacques Derrida’s book Glas (1986), as used in Arnas Anskaitis doctoral art project-dissertation Knowledge That Artist Has at Their Disposal: Seven Trace-Maps, 2021, photo by the artist



How to Cite

Šmigelskaitė, A. (2022). The First Art Historian Giorgio Vasari and His Influence on the Lithuanian Art History: Joseph Sounders on Szymon Czechowicz. Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis, (107), 182–191.