‘Kemp is a natural storyteller… This book leads you on a journey through the life, work and legacy of one of history’s most intriguing figures.’ The Times
In an engaging personal narrative interwoven with historical research, Martin Kemp discusses a life spent immersed in the world of Leonardo, and his encounters with great and lesser academics, collectors and curators, devious dealers and unctuous auctioneers, major scholars and authors, pseudo-historians and fantasists. He shares how he has grappled with swelling legions of ‘Leonardo loonies’, walked on the eggshells of vested interests in academia and museums, and fended off fusillades of non-Leonardos, sometimes more than one a week. Examining the greatest masterpieces, from the Last Supper to Salvator Mundi, through the expert’s eye, we learn first-hand of the thorny questions that surround attribution, the scientific analyses that support the experts’ interpretations, and the continuing importance of connoisseurship.
Throughout, from the most scholarly interpretations to the popularity of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, we are reminded of Leonardo’s unique genius and wonder at how an artist from 500 years ago continues to make such compelling posthumous demands on all those who engage with him.
Table of Contents
Preface • Introduction: Art History in Action • Prologue: a Sketch of Leonardo • 1. The Last Supper and the First Steps • 2. The ‘Original’ Last Supper • 3. Looking at Lisa • 4. The Stolen Madonna • 5. The Beautiful Princess • 6. Ugly Arguments • 7. The Saviour • 8. Science and Seeing • 9. Codices and Computers • 10. Exhibitions • 11. Codes and Conjectures
About the Author
Martin Kemp is professor emeritus of the history of art at Oxford University