Leonardo Da Vinci and the Book of Doom: Bianca Sforza, the Sforziada and Artful Propaganda in Renaissance Milan

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Unicorn Publishing Group, 2019 - Art - 352 pages
This in-depth investigation into the art, politics and murderous cynicism of Renaissance Milan is is an academic detective story sketched out with erudition and journalistic panache. Debunking the outrageous claim by the notorious Lancashire forger Shaun Greenhalgh that he produced the mesmerizing portrait of a young girl that zoomed into the art world limelight in 2009, Hewitt proves that Leonardo was on intimate terms with both the sitter - Bianca Sforza, teenage daughter of the Duke of Milan - and her husband, Galeazzo Sanseverino, the Duke's Army Captain, effective Number Two and, as Hewitt convincingly demonstrates, the subject of Leonardo's enigmatic portrait The Musician. Hewitt brings the tragic Bianca to life, suggests why and by whom she was likely murdered,and explains why her Leonardo portrait was included in one of the most lavish books ever produced - whose co-illustrator, Giovan Pietro Birago, was paid even more than Leonardo. Finally, in one of the most significant artistic discoveries of recent times, Hewitt shows how Birago's artistic colleagues had no hesitation in lampooning the venerable Leonardo as a Ginger-Haired Gay.

'A remarkable book and a work of impressive scholarship yeteminently readable, helped along by the author's characteristic light touch,the snapshots of the major players and the quality of the illustrations. As adetective story it takes some beating. Chronicling Simon's discoveries, thefascinating people he met on his journey, and the exotic locations he ended upin, his role in piecing it all together is a story in itself' - JOHNFALDING formerly Arts Reporter, Financial Times

'A magnificent journey through time. An amazing book fromfirst page to last' - FRANÇOISE JOULIE Curator of Drawings, Musée du Louvre,Paris

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About the author (2019)

Simon Hewitt read History & French at Oxford University, where he also studied History of Art as a postgraduate under the legendary Francis Haskell. Since 1985 he has reported on Art and Culture for numerous international publications, including Art + Auction, The Art Newspaper and The Huffington Post. He lived for 24 years in France - also writing about wine for Decanter magazine, conducting player interviews for the Paris St-Germain matchday programme and captaining, then coaching, the national cricket team. He moved to Switzerland in 2008, since when he has written regularly about classical music and lectured on Art History at the Vreije Universiteit in Brussels.

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