The Vanishing Velzquez: A 19Th Century Bookseller'S Obsession With A Lost Masterpiece

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As compelling and entertaining as a detective novel (The Economist), the incredible true storypart art history and part mysteryof a Velzquez 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 youngtoo young to be kingand yet also too young to be painted by the Flemish painter to whom the piece was attributed. Snare had found something incrediblebut what?

His research brought him to Diego Velzquez, whose long-lost portrait of Prince Charles has eluded art experts for generations. Velzquez (15991660) was the official painter of the Madrid court, during the time the Spanish Empire teetered on the edge of collapse. When Prince Charles of Englanda man wealthy enough to help turn Spains fortunesproposed a marriage with a Spanish princess, he allowed just a few hours to sit for his portrait, and Snare believed only Velzquez could have been the artist of choice. But in making his theory public, Snare was ostracized and forced to choose, like Velzquez 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 Velzquez 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 Cummings book is sumptuous...A gleaming work of someone at the peak of her craft (The New York Times).


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