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Leonardo and the Last supper
Ross King
Adult Nonfiction ND623.L5 A683 2012

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Detail obsessed, easily distracted, and a notorious deadline-buster, Leonardo da Vinci was able to complete one of his two best works in just three years-all against a backdrop of war and occupation of Milan. King's (Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling) detailed accounting of the political situation in 15th-century Italy and how it informs our understanding of The Last Supper is interspersed with analysis of history's many interpretations of the painting, including the "typical crackpottery that follows Leonardo." The book addresses such topics as the groupings of the apostles and their hand placement; readings of the painting as glorifying faith; and whether the figure next to Jesus depicts the apostle John or Mary Magdalene. King provides a fascinating look at the artist's life, including his reputation among his patrons as unreliable, and his relationships with those he worked with and for-including a young boy named Giacomo, who "held a great physical attraction for Leonardo." However, King's speculations are never salacious; rather, they help place Leonardo's life into the context of Florence's history of sexual tolerance and subsequent religious crackdowns. Though some of King's political explorations and discussions of symbolism can drag, the book proves most lively when tackling common misconceptions about the painting, with The Da Vinci Code coming in for special criticism. 16-page color insert and b&w reproductions. Agent: Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

King (Brunelleschi's Dome) celebrates Leonardo da Vinci in this engaging biography centered on the artist's creation of one of his masterpieces, The Last Supper, in Santa Maria della Grazia in Milan. He touches upon some of the major forces of Leonardo's time: Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, who commissioned the painting to glorify the Sforza dynasty; Charles XIII of France, whose troops invaded and, for a time, ruled parts of Italy; as well as the ecclesiastic fabric of Renaissance life, which supported the creation of many great works of art. King explores Leonardo's painting techniques and explores many factors that may have figured into its creation such as the divinely inspired proportion of the golden section (knowledge derived from Leonardo's relationship with the mathematician Luca Pacioli) as well as an explication of the various poses of the figures in the painting itself, which King speculates might be based on gestures commonly used by 15th-century Italians. VERDICT A fascinating and in-depth story of one of the world's most famous works of art that will appeal to general readers as well as academics. Highly recommended.-Ellen Bates, New York (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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