The Lives of Paintings: Seven Masterpieces by Leonardo da Vinci

Marina Wallace

Published by Artakt and Zidane Press, 2011
230pp, Price: £8.99
ISBN: 978–0–956267–88–2


‘Leo-mania’ is a worldwide phenomenon. From great public institutions holding original masterpieces, like the Louvre in
Paris, to block-buster exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Leonardo’s work is now widely dispersed
and nearly all his surviving paintings are in public galleries, an institution that didn’t even exist when he was alive. So how did they get there? Where have they been? And who has owned them?

Published to coincide with the biggest ever Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London, this fascinating new book traces the extraordinary history of seven of the artist’s most influential works, from original commission to final resting place, and brings to life the wider context in which the paintings were created, bought and sold. It includes the story of how one painting became a national symbol of Poland after surviving years of war-torn history; and it describes how a bitter feud between two rival art dealers over another Leonardo painting, led to a sensational court case that shook the art world of the 1920s.

Drawing on original source material, including contracts, museum archives and personal letters, Professor Marina Wallace shines new light on the often complex histories of ownership and attribution and considers them alongside the evolution of the international art market. Entertaining and accessible, this unique study offers a fresh approach to art history that will appeal to Leonardo enthusiasts and the general reader alike.

Buy the book on Amazon here.