Art History

San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice

by Henry Maguire and Robert S. Nelson

The church of San Marco of Venice has long played a central role in Venetian political, ceremonial, and religious life. Its renowned assemblage of mosaics, sculpture, metalwork, and reliquaries are, in origin, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, or Venetian imitation of Byzantine designs. In San Marco, Byzantium, and the Myths of Venice, the authors assess the significance of the embellishment of the church and its immediate surroundings, especially during the 13th and 14th centuries, when most of the Byzantine material was acquired, largely from Constantinople. The church and its decoration are studied in relation to Venice’s interests abroad and on mainland Italy. The authors address the diverse styles, sources, meanings, and significance of this art, both individually and as an ensemble. Building upon developments in scholarship since Otto Demus’s masterly studies of the church, the book offers new insights into the inspiration, purposes, and mutability of San Marco and the myths that inspired and motivated Venetians.

Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel

by Andrew Graham-Dixon

You cannot stand underneath the masterwork that is the Sistine Chapel without considering the genius and painstaking work that went into its creation. But Michelangelo Buonarroti never wanted to paint the Sistine Chapel. Appointed by the temperamental Julius II, Michelangelo believed the suspiciously large-scale project to be a plot for failure conspired by his rivals and the “Warrior Pope.” After all, Michelangelo was not a painter—he was a sculptor. The noble artist reluctantly took on the daunting task that would damage his neck, back, and eyes (if you have ever strained to admire the real thing, you know). Andrew Graham-Dixon tells the story behind the famous painted ceiling over which the great artist painfully toiled for four long years.

Linking Michelangelo’s personal life to his work on the Sistine Chapel, Graham-Dixon describes Michelangelo’s unique depiction of the Book of Genesis, tackles ambiguities in the work, and details the painstaking work that went into Michelangelo’s magnificent creation. Complete with rich, full-color illustrations and Graham-Dixon’s articulate narrative, Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel is an indispensable and significant piece of art criticism. It humanizes this heavenly masterpiece in a way that every art enthusiast, student, and professional can understand and appreciate.

 

The Miracles of Prato

by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

A vibrant and enthralling historical novel about art and passion, The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz brings Italy in the era of the Medici to glorious life—as it tells the story of an illicit love affair between the renowned painter Fra Filippo Lippi and his muse, a beautiful convent novitiate. A magnificent blend of fact, historical color, emotion, and invention, The Miracles of Prato is a novel that will delight the many fans of Tracy Chavalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Susan Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

Oil and Marble: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo

by Stephanie Storey

From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome 50-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market—a merchan’’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse. Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius. Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.

Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer

by Robert Byrd

Famous in his time as a painter, prankster, and philosopher, Leonardo da Vinci was also a musician, sculptor, and engineer for dukes, popes, and kings. What remains of his work –from futuristic designs and scientific inquiry to artwork of ethereal beauty — reveals the ambitious, unpredictable brilliance of a visionary, and a timeless dreamer. Robert Byrd celebrates this passionate, playful genius in a glowing picture book replete with the richness and imagination of Leonardo’s own notebooks. Twenty lavish spreads, including side drawings, supplemental texts, and quotes from Leonardo’s writings, highlight distinct periods and make the master’s art, jokes, explorations, and inventions wonderfully vivid and accessible. A striking tribute to an irrepressible mind and to the potential within all who are curious.

Rome: A Cultural, Visual and Personal History

by Robert Hughes

For almost 1000 years, Rome held sway as the spiritual and artistic center of the world. Hughes vividly recreates the ancient Rome of Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Nero, Caligula, Cicero, Martial and Virgil. With the artistic blossoming of the Renaissance, he casts his unwavering critical eye over the great works of Raphael, Michelangelo and Brunelleschi, shedding new light on the Old Masters. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, when Rome’s cultural predominance was assured, artists and tourists from all over Europe converged on the city. Hughes brilliantly analyses the defining works of Caravaggio, Velasquez, Rubens and Bernini.

Affreschi: Exploring Etruria

by Norman M. Roberson and Mary Jane Cryan

Mary Jane Cryan is an American-Irish writer and historian who has been living in Italy since 1965 where she has had careers in international education, journalism and tourism. Her byline has appeared on local English language publications, scholarly journals, best-selling guidebooks, and Italian and English lifestyle magazines since 1978. Her latest books are inspired by the area just north of Rome, where she currently resides.

Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities

by Janis Herbert

The marriage of art and science is celebrated in this beautifully illustrated four-color biography and activity book. Kids will begin to understand the important discoveries that da Vinci made through inspiring activities like determining the launch angle of a catapult, sketching birds and other animals, creating a map, learning to look at a painting, and much more. Includes a glossary, bibliography, listing of pertinent museums and Web sites, a timeline, and many interesting sidebars.

Masters of Art: Tiepolo

by William Barcham

The art of Giambattista Tiepolo (1696-1770) represents a key chapter in the rich history of Venetian painting. Tiepolo first exhibited in his native Venice in 1716; his career ended in Madrid, where he died while employed by the King of Spain. In Venice and Madrid, throughout northern Italy, and in England, France, and Germany, Tiepolo produced paintings for churches, princes, religious orders, and private patrons. He was Italy’s most important painter of the 18th century, and with Antoine Watteau he stands out as one of the two greatest in Europe before the artistic and intellectual watershed of the French Revolution.

Hello, Fruit Face!: The Paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo

by Claudia Strand

In the fantastic portraits of the 16th-century painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo, compositions of fruit, vegetables, flowers, books, animals or garden tools magically turn into vivid depictions of beautiful young women, weathered old men or the personifications of the seasons and elements. This book is one of a series of books for children which shows how Arcimboldo’s portraits made him a celebrated artist in court circles and a unique painter in the history of art.