One day someone will write a treatise on those dinner parties whose fortunate conjunction of guests and ideas has changed the course of civilisation.

Cited no doubt would be that famous gathering in Rome in 1546 during which Cardinal Farnese asked Giorgio Vasari to assemble "a catalogue of artists and their works, listed in chronological order".

The result was 'The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects', first published in 1550 in Florence, and revised and extended for a second edition in 1568.

"The example of so many able men and all the various details of all kinds collected by my labours in this book will be no little help to practising artists as well as pleasing all those who follow and delight in the arts."

From the dedication of the first edition to Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici.