The secret histories of the world's most famous masterpieces
Caravaggios, Rembrandts, Monets-the works of immortal artists such as these are indelibly imprinted in the public mind; they are priceless masterpieces whose beauty, artistry, and emotional impact have inspired admiration, awe, and envy through the centuries. Yet behind many of these brilliant paintings and sculptures are fascinating, unique histories. In Scandals, Vandals, and da Vincis, award-winning writer Harvey Rachlin relates in exciting detail how nearly thirty of these works came to be created and how they survived burglary, forgery, revolutions, ransoms, vandals, scandals, religious sects, and shipwrecks to eventually come to their current resting places
Readers may find an entirely new appreciation for art and its creators after reading Rachlin's dishy tales of the people behind and beyond 26 famous canvases. Using Caraveggio's David with the Head of Goliath, Rachlin explores how an artist might "deal on canvas with his own emotional crisis," in this case the years Caravaggio spent as a fugitive following a victorious (but deadly) duel. In A Convalescent, a painting by artist James Tissot, Rachlin sees an artist "unwittingly predicting on canvas the strange circumstances that...befall him many years later," a story of love, death and the supernatural. And using the Mona Lisa, Rachlin deconstructs the perfect crime: the masterpiece's 1911 heist from the Louvre. The only problem with this fun title are the black and white painting reproductions, which make Rachlin's frequently hyper-detailed descriptions a bit frustrating. Still, it's an entertaining read full of good, gossipy tales for art aficionados or those interested in sounding like one.
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March 26, 2007
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