Filled with beauty, passion, greed, and evil, Collinsworth’s search is a spirited art history yarn.

WHAT THE ERMINE SAW

THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF LEONARDO DA VINCI'S MOST MYSTERIOUS PORTRAIT

Chasing down the mysterious history of a priceless painting.

Collinsworth unwinds a thoroughly captivating story about a single painting. She begins “some 530 years ago” in Milan with Ludovico, a powerful, wealthy duke who commissioned a portrait of his young lover, “most probably Cecilia Gallerani.” Barely two feet by a foot and a half, it was meticulously conceived and presented by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Known simply as Lady With an Ermine, it was one of only four known portraits of women he painted. Da Vinci, writes the author, “made Cecilia so palpably real with paint that we are able to imagine the faint pulse at the base of her throat and can almost hear her breath, but what he achieved is more than artistic precision. The portrait is not just a visual transmission of what she looked like; it’s also a psychological narrative.” Collinsworth goes into lush detail chronicling the colorful, often violent times when the work was created and reveals some fascinating biographical elements about da Vinci. When Ludovico married a 15-year-old named Beatrice, the painting hung in his private apartments while Cecilia and her son resided in the same building. When forced out by Beatrice, she took the painting with her. After Beatrice died, her conniving, art-collecting sister Isabella secured the painting from Cecilia—or did she? For the next 250 years, despite rumors, the painting’s location was unknown until 1800, when a roving Polish nobleman purchased it in Italy from an unknown seller as a gift for his mother in Russia, where it was subsequently misidentified and Cecilia’s “very essence” was lost. Collinsworth meticulously charts the painting’s circuitous path throughout Europe during political unrest and two world wars to a German governor-general who was busy creating “a systematic campaign to eradicate Polish culture.” Finally transferred to the National Museum in Kraków, the painting has since been exhibited around the world.

Filled with beauty, passion, greed, and evil, Collinsworth’s search is a spirited art history yarn.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54611-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

more