Vanishing Velazquez: A 19-Century Bookseller’s Obsession With A Lost Masterpiece by Laura Cumming (5 out of 5)

the-vanishing-velazquez-9781476762159_lg

It’s been almost 6 weeks since my last post. To any and all who follow, my apologies. Between the worst writer’s block I’ve encountered in a long time and my father’s health, I have not been able to summon the muse to sit in front of a computer and do what I love to do and what normally comes so naturally. I have had this book about a month and it just sat there. Thank you to Barb at Simon & Schuster, for sending me a copy so I could read it before it was released and because it was a book that she so enthusiastically got behind, that it sparked my interest in reading again. Because the girl who reads one book a day? Has been reading the same book for over a week. This is NOT me. But this? This helped pull me out of the funk. Well worth it. Anyone who loves books, art, and a great historical puzzle needs to read this. Right away. It is out and on the shelf at your local independent bookstore. Go grab a copy.

Laura Cumming is an art critic and the author of this unbelievable story. John Snare, a bookseller, heads to a liquidation auction and is instantly captured by a portrait of King Charles I. However, the age of Charles at the time of the painting, along with the age of the painter the work is credited to, do not add up. Snare begins his own investigation into the matter, and the path to discovery leads to one Diego Velazquez,  who had one long-lost portrait of Charles I that the art community had been looking for generations. Velazquez was the official painter of the Madrid Court. The rumor was that Charles I, in the act of proposing marriage to a Spanish princess, only had a short time in which to have his portrait officially done, and Velazquez was the only probable answer to the riddle. However, in taking his theories public, John Snare is ostracized, tried for fraud in a court of law, and almost loses his family in the struggle to have his suspicions confirmed in the art community. You find out not only a lot about history, but also about how an obsession can take control of one’s life and knock sense out of the ballpark. The struggle to authenticate a work of art along with the stubbornness of the artists and those who collect art, almost as an occupation of sorts, is an eye-opening one that Cumming narrates deftly and to the enthrallment of the reader. If you like art, or even if you’re not a huge fan of art (myself, in this case), but like a compelling story of whodunit and happenstance, tragedy and politics, crime and punishment, this is the book you need to read.

 

~ by generationgbooks on May 25, 2016.

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