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Guicciardini, Lodovico [Lodovico di Jacopo di Piero Guicciardini]

Date born: August 19, 1521

Place Born: Florence, Italy

Date died: March 22, 1589

Place died: Antwerp, Belgium

Merchant, writer and biographer Netherlandish artists. Guicciardini was the son of Jacopo Guicciardini (d. 1552) and Camilla d'Agnolo des Bardi (d. 1557). His uncle was the historian Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540). He was well educated according to the affluent means of his family including learning Latin and some Greek. He moved to Antwerp by 1542 where he remainded his whole life. In 1567, after publishing some minor works, collections of anecdotes and maximes, etc., he published Descrittione di m. Lodouico Guicciardini patritio fiorentino, di tutti i Paesi Bassi, a geopolitical description of the area which included a significant discussion of artists. The work is a major source of information on the artists of the period. A French edition appeared the same year. The same year, Guicciardini suffered the first of a series of political incarcerations, imprisoned and his home confiscated for criticism of the ruling Duque de Alba, Governor of the Netherlands. In 1569 he was denounced for alleged dealings with Protestants and again imprisoned, this time in Brussels. In 1582 he was arrested in connection with a plot to assasinate William the Silent, Prince of Orange and in 1588 arrested again during the last years of the war against the Protestants. He was released because of his age. A third and final edition of Descrittione was printed by Plantin the same year. Guicciardini was pensioned his final years (50 livres d'artois) from Antwerp. He died at 68 and is buried in the Antwerp Cathedral. An English edition of the Descrittione appeared in 1593.

The artistic biographical section of the Descrittione is an amalgam of personal experience, the input of artists (Lucas de Heere and Dominicus Lampsonius) and portions of the first edition of the Vite (1550) by Giorgio Vasari. Guicciardini adopts Vasari's assertion that Jan van Eyck discovered oil painting and reference to the (presumed) Portinari Altarpiece of Hugo van der Goes. Vasari clearly read Guicciardini's work for in his second edtion of the Vite, 1568, Vasari includes Jan's brother, Hubert van Eyck, mentioned in Guicciardini's work. As a whole, Descrittione is one of the first accounts to treat the Low Countries as a whole (Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani)

Home Country:  Italy/Belgium

Sources:   Dictionary of Art 13: 806; Aristodemo, Dina. "Lodovico Guicciardini e la 'Descrittione di tutti i Paesi Bassi'." Studi e problemi di critica testuale 16 (April 1978): 217-224; Aristodemo, Dina. "La figura e l'opera di Lodovico Guicciardini: prospettive di ricerca, in Lodovico Guicciardini (1521-1589)." Actes du Colloque international, Bruxelles… 1990, edited by Pierre Jodogne. Leuven: Peeters Press, 1991, pp. 19-36; "Guicciardini, Lodovico." Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/lodovico-guicciardini_(Dizionario-Biografico)/.

Bibliography: Descrittione di m. Lodouico Guicciardini patritio fiorentino, di tutti i Paesi Bassi, altrimenti detti Germania inferiore : con piu carte di geographia del paese, & col ritratto naturale di piu terre principali : con amplissimo indice di tutte le cose piu memorabili. Antwerp: Guglielmo Siluio, 1567, English, The Description of the Low Countreys and of the Prouinces thereof, Gathered into an Epitome out of the Historie of Lodouico Guicchardini. London: Peter Short, 1593

Subject's name: Lodovico Guicciardini