Paolo Giovio

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Paolo Giovio

Paolo Giovio (Latinized Paulus Iovius; b. 21 April 1483 or 1486 in Como; † 11 December 1552 in Florence) was an Italian historian, biographer, Catholic bishop and physician. His brother Benedetto Giovio (1471-1545) was also a historian.


Paolo Giovio studied philosophy in Padua and medicine in Pavia, practiced medicine first in Como, then in Milan, and went to Rome in 1517, where he was appointed Bishop of Nocera by Clement VII.

As early as 1546, three years after the death of Nicolaus Copernicus, he wrote a biography of the astronomer.

Giovio is the first biographer of Leonardo da Vinci, and he is the author of the first written praise of the famous painter.[1]

Paolo Giovio had an important collection of portraits of statesmen and war heroes in his villa in Borgo Vico on Lake Como, including two paintings by Bronzino, Andrea Doria as Neptune and Cosimo I de’ Medici in armour.


Lettere volgari / di mons

  • Historiarum sui temporis libri XLV, the history of his time 1494-1547 (Italian by Domenichi, Florence 1551-53, 2 vols.).
  • Vitae virorum illustrium (written after 1527; Italian by Ludovico Domenichi, Florence 1549-47, 7 volumes), in which Giovio – beginning with Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas – offers portraits of specialist writers and literary figures, some of whom he also knew personally, such as Ariost, Baldassare Castiglione, Niccoló Machiavelli, Jacopo Sannazaro and Vittoria Colonna.
  • Litterae: letters, ed. by Ludovico Domenichi(Lettere volgare di Paolo Giovio, Venice 1560).

Editions and translations

  • Pauli Iovii opera. Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, Rome
    • Volume 6: Pauli Iovii vitarum pars prior (Leonis decimi, Hadriani sexti, Pompei Columnae cardinalis vitae). Ed. by Michele Cataudella, 1987.
    • Volume 8: Paolo Giovio: Gli elogi degli uomini illustri (letterati, artisti, uomini d’arme). Ed. by Renzo Meregazzi, 1972.
  • Franco Minonzio (ed.): Paolo Giovio: Elogi degli uomini illustri. Einaudi, Turin 2006 (Italian translation).
  • Kenneth Gouwens (ed.): Paolo Giovio: Notable Men and Women of Our Time (= The I Tatti Renaissance Library, vol. 56). Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Massachusetts) 2013, ISBN 978-0-674-05505-6 (Latin text and English translation).


  • Giuseppe Chiesi:Paolo Giovio. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz. 6 September 2007.
  • T. C. Price Zimmermann: Paolo Giovio. The Historian and the Crisis of Sixteenth-Century Italy. Princeton University Press, Princeton 1995, ISBN 978-8-848-81377-8
  • T. C. Price Zimmermann:Giovio, Paolo. In: Mario Caravale (ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 56: Giovannidi Crescenzio-Giulietti. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2001.

Web links

Commons: Paolo Giovio– Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual references

  1. S. Partsch: Look into my eyes, Dürer! The art of the old masters. Munich 2018. p. 63.