Leonardo's Holy Child: The Discovery of a Leonardo Da Vinci Masterpiece: A Connoiseur's Search for Lost Art in America

Pegasus Books
Free sample

A single sketch becomes an all-consuming quest to understand and identify a work by Leonardo da Vinci himself—the first new drawing by the great master to have surfaced in over a century.

Fred Kline is a well-known art historian, dealer, connoisseur, and explorer who has made a career of scouring antique stores, estate sales, and auctions looking for unusual—and often misidentified—works of art. Many of the gems he has found are now in major museum collections like the Frick, the Getty, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

But this book is about the discovery of one piece in particular: About ten years ago, when Kline was routinely combing through a Christie's catalog, a beautiful little drawing caught his eye. Attributed to Carracci, it came with a very low estimate, but Kline's every instinct told him that the attribution was wrong. He placed a bid and the low asking price and bought the drawing outright. And that was the beginning of how Kline discovered Leonardo da Vinci's model drawing for the Infant Jesus and the Infant St. John.

It is the first work by da Vinci to have surfaced in over a century. Leonardo’s Holy Child chronicles not only the story of this amazing discovery, from Kline's research all over the world to how exactly attributions work with regards to the old masters (most of their works are unsigned). Kline also sheds light on the idea of "connoisseurship," an often-overlooked facet of art history that's almost Holmesian in its intricacy and specificity.

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About the author

Fred R. Kline is a generalist art historian, art dealer, artist, and writer. His numerous and diverse discoveries have been covered in the New York Times and Arts and Antiques, and have been acquired by the Getty Museum, the Morgan Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many others. He has served on the editorial staff of National Geographic, and his sculpture has been praised by the Smithsonian. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Visit him at www.klinegallery.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Pegasus Books
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Published on
May 10, 2016
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Pages
384
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ISBN
9781681771182
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / General
Art / History / Renaissance
Biography & Autobiography / Artists, Architects, Photographers
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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In Da Vinci's Ghost, critically acclaimed historian Toby Lester tells the story of the world’s most iconic image, the Vitruvian Man, and sheds surprising new light on the artistry and scholarship of Leonardo da Vinci, one of history’s most fascinating figures.

Deftly weaving together art, architecture, history, theology, and much else, Da Vinci's Ghost is a first-rate intellectual enchantment.”—Charles Mann, author of 1493

Da Vinci didn’t summon Vitruvian Man out of thin air. He was inspired by the idea originally formulated by the Roman architect Vitruvius, who suggested that the human body could be made to fit inside a circle, long associated with the divine, and a square, related to the earthly and secular. To place a man inside those shapes was to imply that the human body could indeed be a blueprint for the workings of the universe. Da Vinci elevated Vitruvius’ idea to exhilarating heights when he set out to do something unprecedented, if the human body truly reflected the cosmos, he reasoned, then studying its anatomy more thoroughly than had ever been attempted before—peering deep into body and soul—might grant him an almost godlike perspective on the makeup of the world.

Written with the same narrative flair and intellectual sweep as Lester’s award-winning first book, the “almost unbearably thrilling” (Simon Winchester) Fourth Part of the World, and beautifully illustrated with Da Vinci's drawings, Da Vinci’s Ghost follows Da Vinci on his journey to understanding the secrets of the Vitruvian man. It captures a pivotal time in Western history when the Middle Ages were giving way to the Renaissance, when art, science, and philosophy were rapidly converging, and when it seemed possible that a single human being might embody—and even understand—the nature of the universe.
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