The American Leonardo: A 20th Century Tale of Obsession, Art and Money

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Constable, 2009 - Art - 388 pages
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After the First World War, Harry Hahn returned to America with his new wife and a spectacular wedding present - which the couple claim was the real La Belle Ferronnière by Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting caused a sensation until the world's leading art critic, Sir Joseph Duveen (without seeing it in person) questioned its authenticity. The Hahns took Duveen to court for slander. Thus began one of the most extraordinary stories in 20th century art history.

The highly renowned historian John Brewer brilliantly uses this story as a launch from which to look at the wider world of the art market and asks the question, when you are standing in front of a painting how do you know what it is? How do you value its worth? What is the most reliable - the expert eye of the connoisseur or the forensic insight of more scientific methods? Through the story of the American Leonardo Brewer charts a thrilling history of 20th century obsession with art, taste and money

Praise for A Sentimental Murder
'A clever, important book,' Kathryn Hughes, Guardian
'Sensational . . utterly rigorous, yet written with effortless elegance and continual verve.' Observer
'like a set of dazzling variations on the traditional whodunit.' Daily Telegraph
'Exceptional, stimulating, original, beautifully written and full of wit.' Miranda Seymour
'Rich and significant . . more compelling that any thriller.' Independent

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About the author (2009)

John Brewer is one of the finest historians in England. He is the author of Pleasures of the Imagination and A Sentimental Murder. He is currently the Professor of Humanities at Caltech, and lives in London with his wife, Stella Tillyard.

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