Giorgio Vasari was born prematurely on 30 July 1511 in Arezzo, Tuscany. Recommended at an early age by his cousin Luca Signorelli, he became a pupil of Guglielmo da Marsiglia, a skillful painter of stained glass. Sent to Florence at the age of sixteen by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, he joined the circle of Andrea del Sarto and his pupils Rosso Fiorentino and Jacopo Pontormo, where his humanist education was encouraged. He was befriended by Michelangelo, whose painting style would influence his own. He died on 27 June 1574 in Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, aged 62.
In 1529, he visited Rome where he studied the works of Raphael and other artists of the Roman High Renaissance. Vasari's own Mannerist paintings were more admired in his lifetime than afterwards. In 1547 he completed the hall of the chancery in Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome with frescoes that received the name Sala dei Cento Giorni. He was consistently employed by members of the Medici family in Florence and Rome, and worked in Naples (for example on the Vasari Sacristy), Arezzo and other places. Many of his pictures still exist, the most important being the wall and ceiling paintings in the Sala di Cosimo I in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, where he and his assistants were at work from 1555, and the frescoes begun by him inside the vast cupola of the Duomo were completed by Federico Zuccari and with the help of Giovanni Balducci. He also helped to organize the decoration of the Studiolo, now reassembled in the Palazzo Vecchio.
In Rome he painted frescos in the Sala Regia.
Among his other pupils or followers are included Sebastiano Flori, Bartolomeo Carducci, Domenico Benci, Tommaso del Verrocchio, Federigo di Lamberto (Federigo del Padovano), Niccolo Betti, Vittor Casini, Mirabello Cavalori (Salincorno), Jacopo Coppi (Jacopo di Meglio), Piero di Ridolfo, Stefano Veltroni of Monte San Savino, Orazio Porta of Monte San Savino, Alessandro Fortori of Arezzo, Bastiano Flori of Arezzo, Fra Salvatore Foschi of Arezzo, and Andrea Aretino.