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Facio, Bartolomeo

    Full Name: Facio, Bartolomeo

    Other Names:

    • Bartolomeo Facio

    Gender: male

    Date Born: before 1410

    Date Died: 1457

    Place Born: La Spezia, Liguria, Italy

    Place Died: Naples, Campania, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): humanism and Renaissance


    Renaissance humanist and early chronicler of artists. Facio was educated in Verona under Guarino Guarini and later (by late 1420s) studied Greek in Florence. He held several initial posts in Genoa and Lucca, before being named Genoese envoy to Naples in 1443. By 1445 he was in the employ of King Alfonso of Naples where he secured the job of royal historian and tutor to Prince Ferrante. After various translations and essays on happiness and the dignity of man, Facio issued his De viris illustribus in 1456, over ninety lives of his contemporaries organized by their professions. These included the architect Leon Battista Alberti (under “orators”) and Gentile da Fabriano, Jan van Eyck, Pisanello and Rogier van der Weyden. under “painters.” Facio introduced these biographies with a discussion of literature and art, broadly based upon the Ars poetica of Horace and the Prooemium by Philostratus the younger. As an art theorist, Facio praised verisimilitude and feeling, similar to contemporary rhetoricians. A painting’s ability to express emotion elevated that painter to the highest level in Facio’s view. As a biographer, he was one of the first author to discuss the works of the northern renaissance artists, proving for modern historians (Jan) van Eyck’s popularity in Italy. Facio mentions many paintings of the Eyck in Italy unknown today, including a St. Jerome panel in the Lomellini Triptych and another of women bathing notable for its effect of appearing to be in a mirror. He praised Rogier van der Weyden’s decorous rendering of the sitter’s character and underlying emotion. Among Italian masters, Facio praised Gentile da Fabriano, Pisanello. In addition, he lists three sculptors, Lorenzo Ghiberti and his son, Vittorio, and Donatello.

    Selected Bibliography

    De viris illustribus (manuscript,. 1456), published as Mehus, Laurentius. Bartholomaei Facii De viris illustribus liber: nunc primum ex. ms. cod. in lucem erutus Florence: Ex typographio Joannis Pauli Giovannelli, 1745; Invective in Laurentium Vallam: Critical Edition. [includes essay by Paul Oskar Kristeller.] Naples: Società editrice napoletana, 1978.


    Ridderbos, Bernhard. “From Waagen to Friedländer.” in, Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception, Research. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005, p. 218; Kraye, Jill. “Facio, Bartolomeo.” Dictionary of Art; Baxandall, Michael. “Bartholomaeus Facius on Painting: A Fifteenth-century Manuscript of De viris illustribus.” Journal of the Warburg & Courauld. Institutes 27 (1964): 90-107; Weiss, R. “Jan van Eyck and the Italians.” Italian Studies 11 (1956): 1-15; Kristeller, Paul O. “The Humanist Bartolomeo Facio and his Unknown Correspondence.” in, From the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation: Essays in Honor of Garrett Mattingly. New York: , 1965, pp. 56-74.


    "Facio, Bartolomeo." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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