I have a passion for art history; it was a main focus of my studies in college. When I was offered a copy of Leonardo’s Holy Child at no charge for review I was very excited. I knew I would enjoy the stories of lost and found pieces of art.
About the Book:
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.
16 page color image insert plus in-text illustrations
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.
I was immediately fascinated by this book as I studied art history in college. Of course that led to my career in banking, heh. But I do love art and Renaissance art in particular. I have a particular fondness for Michelangelo and since Leonardo is a contemporary I enjoy any chance to find myself back in the era.
This book almost reads like a thriller as the author introduces the drawing and his suspicions that it’s not just any “old master” work. He has strong feelings that it’s by Leonardo DaVinci! He misses his first chance to buy it but fate brings it to him at another time. Then begins the task of determining who drew the child. I doubt I’m telling tales out of school by sharing the excitement of the chase and discovery of Leonardo’s hand in the drawing. Would there be a book otherwise? It didn’t come immediately and it didn’t come without a healthy dose of skepticism but that is half the fun of the reading.
The book reads like non-fiction; Mr. Kline writes with enthusiasm for his subject but not in such a way that is over the head of his reader. It does help to have a passion – or at least a healthy interest – in art, I will admit that. But then again you wouldn’t be looking at the title if you didn’t.
It doesn’t take the whole of the book’s 384 pages to tell the tale of Leonardo’s drawing. Mr. Kline shares other stories from the art world from different centuries and different continents. All make for very interesting reading and for an wealth of fascinating stories to share when conversation should lag.
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