Giorgio Vasari knew Michelangelo personally and almost literally adored him. “See Michelangelo’s work,” he says more than once in his book, “and you never need to see any other.”
He had been lucky enough to meet Michelangelo, the undisputed greatest artist of the age, when Vasari was just a country bumpkin come to Florence to learn how to paint. For a couple of months Michelangelo himself was the boy’s master. Unfortunately Michelangelo was called to Rome and Vasari had to look elsewhere for instruction.
But for the rest of his life Vasari idolized Michelangelo and kept up contact. When it came to Michelangelo’s work, the force, the magic, numbed Vasari’s critical faculty. He could only reel with amazement. It was so far above the work of any artist he had ever seen. He, Vasari, could learn from all the artists; he could understand this or that innovation or beautiful feature. He could see where it came from, feel it inside himself. But with Michelangelo the power came from nowhere, or from heaven. Vasari knew he himself could never produce work like that. It was as though an angel had sculpted those figures in the Medici Chapel, not a human. He was almost a little afraid of the Master: it was like being near an angel of God.