The Vanishing Velázquez

The Vanishing Velázquez

A 19th-century Bookseller's Obsession With A Lost Masterpiece

eBook - 2016
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"As compelling and entertaining as a detective novel" ( The Economist ), the incredible true story--part art history and part mystery--of a Vel#65533;zquez portrait that went missing and the obsessed nineteenth-century bookseller determined to prove he had found it.

When John Snare, a nineteenth century provincial bookseller, traveled to a liquidation auction, he found a vivid portrait of King Charles I that defied any explanation. The Charles of the painting was young--too young to be king--and yet also too young to be painted by the Flemish painter to whom the piece was attributed. Snare had found something incredible--but what?

His research brought him to Diego Vel#65533;zquez, whose long-lost portrait of Prince Charles has eluded art experts for generations. Vel#65533;zquez (1599-1660) was the official painter of the Madrid court, during the time the Spanish Empire teetered on the edge of collapse. When Prince Charles of England--a man wealthy enough to help turn Spain's fortunes--proposed a marriage with a Spanish princess, he allowed just a few hours to sit for his portrait, and Snare believed only Vel#65533;zquez could have been the artist of choice. But in making his theory public, Snare was ostracized and forced to choose, like Vel#65533;zquez himself, between art and family.

A thrilling investigation into the complex meaning of authenticity and the unshakable determination that drives both artists and collectors of their work, The Vanishing Vel #65533;zquez is a "brilliant" ( The Atlantic ) tale of mystery and detection, of tragic mishaps and mistaken identities, of class, politics, snobbery, crime, and almost farcical accident that reveals how one historic masterpiece was crafted and lost, and how far one man would go to redeem it. Laura Cumming's book is "sumptuous...A gleaming work of someone at the peak of her craft" ( The New York Times ).
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2016
ISBN: 9781476762166
1476762163
Characteristics: 1 online resource : illustrations (some color)

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SRZ37
Jun 26, 2017

This is a feast for art lovers, a biography of the great Spanish artist Diego Velazquez (1599-1660), intense description and criticism of his works, plus the added intrigue of a supposed lost early Velazquez painting of Charles I, painted in 1623 when Charles spent a brief time in Madrid at the court of Philip IV, where Velazquez was both court painter and government functionary. It's also the story of John Snare, an antiquarian printer and book dealer, who finds the painting in mid-19th century England and spends the rest of his life fighting to prove it's a genuine Velazquez, dying in poverty in New York City. This feast of a book can be hard to read and make sense of sometimes because of its inter-threading of Velazquez biography, art analysis, Hapsburg history and politics. But if you like a good story, it's worth it.

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