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American Leonardo A Tale of Obsession, Art and Money

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ISBN-10: 0195396901

ISBN-13: 9780195396904

Edition: 2009

Authors: John Brewer

List price: $24.95
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Though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, authenticity is in the eye of the expert. Or is it? That was the issue at stake when in 1919 a returning doughboy named Harry Hahn and his French bride Andree attempted to sell what they thought was a genuine Da Vinci in New York. Renowned art dealer Sir Joseph Duveen declared the picture--La Belle Ferronniere--a fake without ever seeing the canvas. The Hahns sued Duveen for slander, setting off a legal battle that would embroil the art world for decades. In The American Leonardo, John Brewer uses this high drama as a vehicle to reveal how authority, expertise, and value are all culturally derived and situated. The trial of the Hahn Belle raised larger questions about how attributions are made, how they affect both the status and value of art works, and how the entire system of art dealers, curators, and connoisseurs authenticates works of art. In the early twentieth century new methods of scientific analysis developed, which meant that for the first time, the critical eye of the connoisseur had to contend with an emerging array of scientific and forensic tests that (however crude in their inception) promised a degree of objectivity and reliability unattainable before. Brewer shows how the tension between the two methods of attribution lay at the heart of the Hahn La Belle dispute, which continues to this day. For artists and art-lovers, collectors and curators--and for anyone who's ever stood in front of a painting and wondered about its story--The American Leonardo offers a discerning and entertaining view into the art world as it tries to separate Old Masters from modern mountebanks. Praise for John Brewer's The Pleasures of the Imagination: "Like all really original achievements, it makes us sharply rethink things we supposed we knew well." -Simon Schama "Lively A sea change in historical writing." --Peter Ackroyd, The Times
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Book details

List price: $24.95
Copyright year: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/5/2009
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Size: 6.75" wide x 9.75" long x 1.25" tall
Weight: 1.496
Language: English

The American Scene
The Culture of Connoisseurship
Locating Leonardo
Dealers and Clients
The Trials of La Belle Ferronniere
The Battle of the Experts
The View from Kansas
The Rape of La Belle
True or False in Art
An Investment Opportunity