Giorgio Vasari was a successful artist, architect, and gifted author of the 16th century. Although he received many prominent commissions as a painter and architect, today he is best known for The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, published in 1550 and 1568. As its title suggests, Vasari’s Lives includes detailed biographical information for many of the most important Italian artists of the Renaissance and remains an essential source for art historians to this day.
This painting of Christ Carrying the Cross, a subject Vasari painted several times in his career, appears in the inventories of the collection of Vincenzo Borghini. A Benedictine monk of high social standing, Borghini ran the Florentine orphanage known as the Hospital of the Innocents. He was also active in the Florentine art scene, cultivating friendships with many artists, including Vasari. Borghini acted as an advisor for many of Vasari’s projects and was an avid collector, amassing a considerable number of original paintings, drawings and copies of famous works. Like many paintings in Borghini’s collection, the Spencer’s Vasari panel hung for many years in the hospital in Florence