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Scandals, Vandals, and da Vincis: A Gallery of Remarkable Art Tales
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Scandals, Vandals, and da Vincis: A Gallery of Remarkable Art Tales

3.22  ·  Rating Details ·  125 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The secret histories of the world’s most famous masterpieces Caravaggios, Rembrandts, Monets—the works of immortal artists such as these are indelibly imprinted in the public mind; they are priceless masterpieces whose beauty, artistry, and emotional impact have inspired admiration, awe, and envy through the centuries. Yet behind many of these brilliant paintings and sculp ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by Penguin Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 26, 2011 Ingrid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little let down that, with the exception of about three stories, the majority of the "scandals" and "remarkable art tales" were neither scandalous nor that remarkable. The paintings chosen were great and I was pleasantly surprised that upon my visit to the Met, I not only recognized the paintings but had some background context for them. Not my favorite book on art, but the few stories I was completely engrossed by did manage to salvage the read for me.
Susan Liston
Nov 14, 2015 Susan Liston rated it liked it
Shelves: art, read-2015, own-it
The title is misleading, and sort of silly. This is a short bio of a number of paintings, of varying levels of fame. I enjoyed it, although I knew a lot of the information already, I still learned quite a bit.
Feb 05, 2016 Dr.J.G. rated it liked it
I am still in the middle of reading this amongst other books, but it seems promising. A collection of various interesting tidbits, anecdotes and history of various art works including the famous Mona Lisa - did you know it had been stolen once, for quite some time with no clues? I certainly did not.

Then there is the critic who was sued by Whistler and lost, but Whistler was only awarded a farthing and went more into debt while Ruskin's friends took up a collection to pay his costs although he w
Jan 20, 2009 Patricia rated it it was ok
As an art lover and historian, I so wanted to like this book, but it was a disappointment. The title was misleading, a marketer's ploy--these weren't "remarkable" art tales, a majority were known to me, as they would be to many art lovers, and the tales didn't reveal many new facts or insights. There were far too many well-known stories-behind-the-paintings, the stories you heard when you took "Art Appreciation 101" at University, and not enough unknown "scandals, vandals" to meet the title's te ...more
Oct 10, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, history-misc
As one reviewer points out, there isn't much scandel in this book. Yet if you enjoyed Private Life of a Masterpiece, you should enjoy this book. Rachlin traces the hidden stories behind some of the world's most famous paintings. Each chapter tells the story of a painting, from Mona Lisa to Dali's Christ of Saint John on the Cross. A rather enjoyable read.

So this is one of my favorite paintings in Montreal:

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The woman in the painting, Kathleen Newton, was the mistress of the painter, J
Apr 23, 2008 Daisy rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
I saw this in the non-fiction section a few weeks ago and checked it out on a whim. After all, am I not interested in art? All in all, this was an interesting if not particularly satisfying read. A good number of the paintings profiled - supposedly scandalous, historically significant or in some way out of the norm - were little known paintings that were, for the most part, little known for a reason. The tiny essays on each painting were rarely more than 3 or so pages long and had the unfortunat ...more
Jan 15, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it
First chapter: Mona Lisa. Author debunks hearsay about its theft in 1911. ML was a global treasure at that time; the theft did not turn it into what it is today. But most of the chapters are not about art thefts...most chapters offer context--how or why an artwork was painted, the purposes it served, responses, controversies, etc. Author does a fair amount of speculating; he also did his research. My favorite chapter was the story of "The Honorable Mrs. Graham" but I also liked, "The Skater." I' ...more
Apr 15, 2009 Suzanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book which promises far more than it delivers. Sadly the stories contained within are nowhere near as exciting as the blurb suggests - the art world contains far more interesting tales than some of the mundane content on show here. A better style with some bigger and clearer representations of the paintings concerned would have been useful, rather than the black and white reproductions offered. The title is the best thing about it.
Sep 08, 2007 Anne rated it did not like it
This book was overly simplistic, and didn't provide a lot of new information on the works of art selected. There were some works that should have been included in the categories of: scandals, vandals and "DaVincis" which were clearly omitted for more user friendly paintings.
Not a good read for those who have an above average interest in art history, and disappointing writing overall. It's a good thing I got this free from Penguin; I'd be upset if I actually paid for it.
Feb 13, 2008 Shannon rated it it was ok
Shelves: okay
Most of these paintings have fascinating stories associated with them - either about the painting, or it's life after creation. So why is each chapter so boring? The writing in this book can barely get out of bed to tell these stories, and it's in danger of falling asleep in the middle of even the most interesting. Same material by a better writer would make a great book.
Sep 29, 2007 Marilyn rated it it was ok
Shelves: art
A major disappointment--some of the stories behind the art work were interesting but not enough to write a book about. The one thing that was so disappointing to me was that the pictures of the art being discussed were black and white and not very clear. I think I would have gotten more out of this book if I could have seen all the details the author was describing.
Jan 20, 2008 Kelli rated it liked it
The book tells the stories behind famous paintings. Some stories are more interesting then others though. Each story is different, like a short story book, so you can just read about the paintings you like. Did you know the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911 and was missing for 2 years? WOW!
Oct 31, 2009 Annette rated it liked it
I think I expected the book to have a little more "pep" or a quicker pace. I was also disappointed with artwork. It is a very quick read and not a waste of time, but it could have been so much better.
Amanda Ariela
Sep 02, 2015 Amanda Ariela rated it liked it
Sometimes the author is more prolific than the necessary. I also wished he had investigated some other works of art who were best know or had more mistery, I felt that sometimes, the paints were only there because the author liked them.

But it is a nice read and a good non fiction book.
May 20, 2008 Heidi rated it it was ok
This book held so much promise, yet I was ultimately disappointed. I think it was written for young adults, but even then it did not in any way attempt to challenge the reader. I think I would have liked it more if the author had limited himself to fewer works of art and more details.
Aug 31, 2007 Allison rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people that love light history reading
It was an engaging book though it slightly failed in the aspects of "remarkable art tales." It came across more as a culture history book but still interesting enough not to put it down. Slightly disappointed that it was not more scandalizing of the art world.
Aug 06, 2008 Holiday rated it did not like it
Not literary enough, and too "lite" for my taste. The stories weren't even that interesting--at least not for someone with a modicum of art history knowledge.
Oct 07, 2013 Shannon rated it it was ok
Stories were OK.
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Tiny bites of art history, served up as background to twenty-six iconic paintings (Mona Lisa, Slave Ship, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Olympia, Watson and the Shark, etc.).
Dec 27, 2008 Amy rated it it was ok
Some of the stories were interesting, but there was really nothing astonishing going on. Somewhat dull overall.
Jan 28, 2009 Catherine rated it liked it
Entertaing but superficial. A quick read
Jun 22, 2013 Cat. rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, history, arts
Fun. Would have been MUCH better with color photos of the artwork in question!
Jan 01, 2009 Duong rated it it was ok
Shelves: the-story-of-art
The chapters were a bit too brief and it was extremely disappointing that the book lacked color images of the paintings discussed.
Jul 28, 2007 Cristen rated it really liked it
Interesting book for a different side of the history of art.
Stephanie rated it liked it
Apr 03, 2008
DickTurpin70 rated it really liked it
Mar 03, 2017
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Mar 06, 2011
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Jun 25, 2014
Cindy rated it liked it
Jan 13, 2008
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