Lives of the Painters

Artemisia

By Alexandra Lapierre

Go to catalog
"Born to the artist Orazio Gentileschi at the beginning of the 1600s, when artists were the celebrities of their day, Artemisia was apprenticed to her father at an early age. She showed such remarkable talent that he came to view her as the most precious thing he owned. But at the age of seventeen Artemisia was raped by her father's best friend and partner, Agostini Tassi. Soon the Gentileschi name was being dragged through scandal, for Artemisia refused, even when tortured, to deny that she had been raped. Indeed, she went farther: she dared to plead her case in court. For eight months all of Rome was riveted by the trial. Artemisia won the case, but in return she was ostracized from Rome and from her father.

"This is a story of the love-hate relationship between master and pupil, father and daughter, at a time when daughters belonged to their fathers and had no legal rights. Artemisia's talent was such that she overturned the prejudices of her time, winning the admiration of wealthy patrons, kings, and queens. Lapierre brings Artemisia Gentileschi to vivid life as she tells of the emotional struggle of this remarkable, fascinating woman."

Reserve this title

Canaletto and the Case of the Westminster Bridge

By Janet Laurence

Go to catalog

When famed Italian artist Canaletto ventures to England on a business jaunt, he encounters more difficulties than just the language barrier. Upon arriving, Canaletto is attacked and robbed twice in the same day by a relentless pickpocket. When he is left for dead in a dark alley, the young woman who helped Canaletto earlier rescues the artist again. The visitor to England meets Jane Austen at dinner, helps uncover a spy, and finds that he has a talent for detective work.

Reserve this title

Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo

By Hayden Herrera

Go to catalog

This engrossing biography of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo reveals a woman of extreme magnetism and originality, an artist whose sensual vibrancy came straight from her own experiences: her childhood near Mexico City during the Mexican Revolution; a devastating accident at age eighteen that left her crippled and unable to bear children; her tempestuous marriage to muralist Diego Rivera and intermittent love affairs with men as diverse as Isamu Noguchi and Leon Trotsky; her association with the Communist Party; her absorption in Mexican folklore and culture; and her dramatic love of spectacle.

On Film:
Salma Hayek delivers one of the best performances of her career in Frida, a vividly imaginative film based on Herrera's biography of the fascinating Frida Kahlo.

Reserve this title

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

By Susan Vreeland

Go to catalog

Eight linked stories tracing the history of a painting by the 17th-century Dutch artist, Vermeer. In one, he paints his daughter to pay off debts, a second story describes the loss of the ownership papers, a third takes place on the eve of its theft by the Nazis.

Reserve this title

Girl with a Pearl Earring

By Tracy Chevalier

Go to catalog

"[This novel] narrates the creation of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer's painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring. The "Girl" in Chevalier's version is 16-year-old Griet, who goes to live with the Vermeer household as a maid and becomes increasingly intimate with Vermeer as she takes on duties as a private assistant."

Reserve this title

Headlong

By Michael Frayn

Go to catalog

An unlikely con man wagers wife, wealth, and sanity in pursuit of an elusive Old Master.

Invited to dinner by the boorish local landowner, Martin Clay, an easily distracted philosopher, and his art-historian wife are asked to assess three dusty paintings blocking the draught from the chimney. But hiding beneath the soot is nothing less--Martin believes--than a lost work by Bruegel. So begins a hilarious trail of lies and concealments, desperate schemes and soaring hopes as Martin, betting all that he owns and much that he doesn't, embarks on a quest to prove his hunch, win his wife over, and separate the painting from its owner.

Reserve this title

In the Casa Azul

By Meaghan Delahunt

Go to catalog

The exile of Leon Trotsky and his young wife to the Casa Azul, the Mexican home of muralist Diego Rivera and artist Frida Kahlo is the backdrop for this tale of the political antagonism between Stalin and Trotsky.

Reserve this title

Jackson Pollock: An American Saga

By Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith

Go to catalog

Take an in-depth look at the life of Jackson Pollock, one of the most influential and controversial artists of the twentieth century.

On Film:
Pollock, the 2000 film based on Naifeh and Smith's biography, stars Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Ed Harris delivers one of the best performances of his life and Harden's portrayal of Pollock's wife, Lee Krasner, earned her the 2001 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. For more on Jackson Pollock, be sure to watch the documentary Jackson Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island.

Reserve this title

Leonardo's Chair

By John DeSimone

Go to catalog

Victor LaBont is a world--class artist who attributes his creative ability to a chair he owns. When his home catches fire and Victor is severely burned trying to rescue the chair, he realizes the chair was stolen before the house was burned.

Reserve this title

Leonardo's Horse

By R.M. Berry

Go to catalog

"On May 2, 1519 at the Clos Luce in Amboise, Leonardo is dying. He no longer cares about art or science. He wants only to answer a simple question about his life: why did he abandon his colossal equestrian statue in Milan? Meanwhile, R-, a 20th century historian writing a novel about Leonardo, meditates upon the same question in the midst of an apocalyptic traffic jam, as military helicopters fill the air with tear gas, AIDS demonstrators run amok, and a hospital evacuates its patients onto a nearby sidewalk."

Reserve this title