In his Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori, Giorgio Vasari compared Luca della Robbia’s cantoria in the Duomo of Florence to the one carved slightly later by Donatello, praising the latter work as superior. Donatello, he wrote, “executed that work almost wholly sketch-like and not neatly finished” such that it appeared “only sketched” in contrast to Luca’s, which was brought to a very high degree of finish. Vasari then asserted that pictures or sculptures, especially if they are to be viewed at a distance, “have more vivacity and greater force if they are made in the fashion of a beautiful sketch than if they are highly finished,” for (in contrast to more finished works) “very often in sketches, born in a moment from the fire of art, an artist’s conception is expressed in a few strokes.” “And,” he concluded,

anyone who knows that all the arts of design . . . are similar to poetry, knows that even as poems thrown off by the poetic fire are the true and good ones, and better than those made with great effort, so, too, the works of men excellent in the arts of design are better when they are made in one sitting by the force of that fire.1