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Leonardo's Lost Princess - by Peter Silverman (Hardcover)

Leonardo's Lost Princess - by  Peter Silverman (Hardcover) - image 1 of 1
Leonardo's Lost Princess - by  Peter Silverman (Hardcover) - image 1 of 1
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About this item


Number of Pages: 280

Genre: Art

Sub-Genre: History

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Wiley

Book theme: Renaissance

Author: Peter Silverman

Language: English

Street Date: February 1, 2010
TCIN: 77263621
UPC: 9780470936405
Item Number (DPCI): 247-53-2054


The memory had haunted Peter Silverman for nine years. In 1998, he had seen an exquisite nine-by-thirteen-inch portrait of a lovely young woman in a richly detailed costume. As much as he was captivated by its beauty, he was intrigued by the catalog annotation, which said it was "German, early 19th century." He was certain that the piece was either a genuine Renaissance work or a brilliant forgery. He resolved to pay up to twice the minimum estimate for this extraordinary jewel at auction, but when the time came, he lost his nerve at $17,000. Now, nine years later, here it was again, for sale in a Manhattan gallery. It would not escape his grasp this time. Still, he had no inkling of the momentous discovery he was about to make or the great controversy that would follow.

In "Leonardo's Lost Princess," Silverman tells the riveting story of how his initial suspicions of the portrait's provenance grew as one art expert after another confirmed his view that this haunting image was, indeed, created in the fifteenth century, that the artist was certainly left-handed, and that the quality of the work was extraordinarily fine. Few, least of all Silverman himself, were willing to even hint that it was the rarest of all finds, an original masterpiece by the greatest painter in history. More proof was needed, but where could it be found?

Silverman's account of the cutting-edge science used to authenticate the portrait--from radiocarbon dating to multispectral photography--is as fascinating as it is convincing. Not only were scientists able to prove that the materials dated from Leonardo da Vinci's lifetime, an analysis of photos taken of the portrait using thirteen different light spectra revealed beyond doubt that the work was made by the master himself. They also provided hints to the drawing's history over the intervening centuries.

Still, many questions remained unanswered. Who was this poised and beautiful young woman? Why had Leonardo, who was very busy at the time with multiple projects for his patron, the Duke of Milan, and others, spent valuable time making this small and modest portrait in chalk and ink? Where had it been hiding for five centuries? The answers to these questions could only be found through good, old-fashioned research and legwork, which would take investigators from Paris to Milan to, improbably, Warsaw. The answers they found are surprising, revealing, and often moving.

Complete with vivid accounts of the art-world controversy sparked by Silverman's claim, similar controversies over the authenticity of works supposedly by Leonardo, and the very different lives of Leonardo and the lovely young woman who was his subject, "Leonardo's Lost Princess" is part whodunit, part revealing expose, and all-enthralling tale of an impossible dream come true.

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