I have a weakness for books about art. Stories about art, artists, and especially art theft are high on my list of favorite sub-genres. In high school I took a lot of art classes and I wish I could have taken more throughout college. I've always been one of those people that gets caught up in art, but mostly older works. Modern art isn't really my thing, I adore work from the impressionist and post-impressionist eras. They're just so romantic.
A peek at one of my favorites:
The Bridge, view on the river by André Derain
(The colors are so gorgeous.)
I've curated a list of just a few of my favorite books about art, and added in a couple that I'm looking forward to reading. These range from (well-researched) works of historical fiction to modern stories of the high-profile art world in New York City. What I love about these books is that the authors clearly have a reverence for art, and that reverence translates to a wonderful reading experience.
I can't curate this list without this book. Chevalier is a master and this is a gorgeous piece of writing. My mom recently took a trip to SanFrancisco and got to stop in the Fine Arts Museum there, where this piece is on exhibit. I was jealous that she got to see it in person, but she brought me back a coffee table book and a mug with the image on it as part of my Christmas gifts. I've thumbed through the book several times and it is just beautiful. No wonder Chevalier was inspired by this work!
This is one of the most fascinating art stories ever, and the best part is that it takes place in Boston. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is at the very top of my list for places to visit this summer. The story goes that one night in 1990, two men broke into the museum and committed the largest art heist in history. They stole dozens of works of art, including The Concert
, a work by Vermeer (the same man who painted Girl with a Pearl Earring
), considered to be the most valuable piece of unrecovered stolen art. That one painting alone is worth over $200 million. This book is a nonfiction account of the mystery and the theories about who was really behind this great unsolved heist.
I picked up this book randomly at the library last year and fell absolutely in love with it. It even made it onto my Top Ten of 2013 list
. The protagonist, Madamoiselle Morisot, was rumored to have an affair with the incredibly famous Manet. It was scandalous, heartbreaking, and so romantic.
This was a good read, though it is fictional. I thought it was interesting because it included details on how art forgeries are made and how tricky it can be now to discern whether a work is authentic or not. This one was more contemporary and gave an interesting account of the underground market of high-priced art.
I gave this 4/5 stars on Goodreads. It's based on a true story of the only woman who ever had the honor of studying under Michaelangelo. She was selected to be the painting instructor for the Queen of Spain and finds herself navigating the court and contemplating her own future as an artist. I did read it a while ago but I do remember feeling like the focus was mostly on her life at court and not so much the art itself. Regardless, the story was great and I was completely caught up in it.
This one is an account of a single day in the Dutch Golden Age, and tells the story of Rembrant's first masterpiece, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulip. It's one of those books that is written through the eyes of several different characters. I'm looking forward to picking it up for this summer. Plus, isn't the cover interesting? Love its eccentric look.
This is supposed to be an amazing read. I bought it back in January but left it at home because I feared that I would forego any schoolwork if I brought it back to school with me. Love the cover and the story is apparently riveting. It's first on my list for books to read this summer!
Do you have a favorite sub-genre? Any recommendations for great books about art?
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