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Topic: Fictional art history

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Subject: Fictional art history
Date Posted: 6/10/2008 6:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2006
Posts: 786
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Saw the post on Cassatt reading in the Hidden gems forum..... and thought it was odd that I've just finished

The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chavalier. I'm always amazed at the subgenres that I've found since joining here.

French noblemen and Flemish tapestry makers have their women  confused by a French painter who is all about conquest. It was interesting and kept me going for a day. I posted it if anyone's interested.

Makes me wonder what else is out there that would fall into this narrow field. I love historical fiction and I love art.

Date Posted: 6/10/2008 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I read The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey a few months ago and really enjoyed it. If you enjoy Tracy Chevalier, I'm sure you'd enjoy this one too.

You might even like The Illuminator's by Brenda Rickman Vantrease. This one is not about a specific painter, but it is about art. It's about the artwork done in books during medieval times, plus it's a good story. I think there are copies available of this one.

A few more that I've read and enjoyed:

  • I am Madame X by Gioia Diliberto
  • The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
  • Artemisia by Alexandre Lapierre - I loved this one and there are copies available now!

The Cassat book sounds good too. I'm going to have to try it. Thanks for the rec!



Last Edited on: 6/10/08 7:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/10/2008 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 4/15/2005
Posts: 456
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  • Girl in Hyacinth Blue - Susan Vreeland
  • Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
  • The Music Lesson - can't remember author off the top of my head, Katherine Weber?

The works of Vermeer feature prominently in all three of these novels.


Date Posted: 6/10/2008 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2005
Posts: 809
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They aren't exactly historical fiction, but the "art history mysteries" by Iain Pears are set in Italy and focus on crimes involving works of art. A list of the books is here: http://stopyourekillingme.com/P_Authors/Pears_Iain.html

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 11:03 PM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
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A Girl with a Pearl Earring was excellent.  I'll also second Painted Kiss.  That was fascinating.  She captured the era well.  I also liked the Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland which was about a Canadian painter, Emily Carr.  Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire also touches on the historical art theme.  I thought that was the best of the 3 books I've read by him.

Last Edited on: 6/14/08 11:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 6/17/2008 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,777
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You might enjoy The Love of Stones by Tobias Hill. It's a similar theme of tracing a piece since its creation, only the piece is one of the British crown jewels which was stolen. It's told from the point of view of a young woman traveling the world trying to track it down.

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 8:11 AM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 550
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Tulip Fever is has a loose art story attached to it as well. It's a good story.

Date Posted: 6/24/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I just yesterday got a book that is about art, and I think it's going to be a good one! It's  The God of Spring by Arabella Edge. This book is about the French painter Theodore Gericault whose masterwork was the painting The Raft of the Medusa. The Medusa was a ship that wrecked and most of the people on board escaped by building a raft and then ended up floating on the open ocean on it for a long while, and very few survived. The wreck of the Medusa was a huge story at the time, especially because of the survivor's accounts of madness, murder, and cannibalism, and Gericault was known to be a bit obsessed with the story.  I've read a non-fiction book, The Wreck of the Medusa by Alexander McKee, about the Medusa that touched a bit on Gericault and his painting and I'm really looking forward to reading more about him. I've also read this author's first book, The Company, and loved it, so I have high hopes for this book.