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