‘New York Times’ Pinches Piero di Cosimo’s Wikipedia Page

Piero di Cosimo’s, The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot. Photo: courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Piero di Cosimo’s, The Visitation with Saint Nicholas and Saint Anthony Abbot. Photo: courtesy the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

A New York Times article by Carol Vogel announcing the first ever retrospective for Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo appears to have lifted a passage straight from the artist’s Wikipedia entry, reports Media Bistro.

The accusing article compares the fourth paragraph of the biography section on Di Cosimo’s Wikipedia page to the opening lines of Vogel’s “A Renaissance Master Finally Gets a Showcase,” published by the Times on July 24. Compare the two passages below, where artnet News has italicized the sentences that are being called into question.

The Wikipedia article:

During his lifetime, Cosimo acquired a reputation for eccentricity — a reputation enhanced and exaggerated by later commentators such as Giorgio Vasari, who included a biography of Piero di Cosimo in his Lives of the Artists. Reportedly, he was frightened of thunderstorms, and so pyrophobic that he rarely cooked his food; he lived largely on hard-boiled eggs, which he prepared 50 at a time while boiling glue for his artworks. He also resisted any cleaning of his studio, or trimming of the fruit trees of his orchard; he lived, wrote Vasari, “more like a beast than a man.

The Times item:

Artists can be eccentric, but the quirks of the Italian Renaissance master Piero di Cosimo are legendary. He is said to have been terrified of thunderstorms and so pyrophobic that he rarely cooked his food, subsisting mostly on hard-boiled eggs that he prepared 50 at a time while heating glue for his art. He didn’t clean his studio. He didn’t trim the trees in his orchard. Giorgio Vasari, the Renaissance biographer, described Piero as living “more like a beast than a man.”

Based on the striking similarity between the two paragraphs, it seems highly unlikely that Vogel didn’t use the Wikipedia article to research her story.

We announced the upcoming retrospective here at artnet News as well. Like Vogel, we felt compelled to inject a bit of personality into the piece via the colorful details about Di Cosimo’s eccentric habits and beliefs. In the spirit of full disclosure, here is our take (found in the penultimate paragraph, not the lede):

The eccentric artist was known for his phobias (thunderstorms and fire—he minimized time spent at the stove by hard-boiling 50 eggs while simultaneously heating up glue for his art) and was described by Renaissance biographer Giorgio Vasari as living “more like a beast than a man.”


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