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The American Leonardo: A 20th Century Tale of Obsession, Art and Money
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The American Leonardo: A 20th Century Tale of Obsession, Art and Money

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  43 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
After the First World War, GI Howard Hahn returned to American with his wife and a wedding present - an unseen Da Vinci painting. They set about putting it up for auction. The painting caused a sensation until the world's leading art critic, Sir Joseph Duveen, called it a fake. The Hahn's took Duveen to court for libel.
Hardcover, 388 pages
Published 2009 by Constable
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Terri
Feb 10, 2014 Terri rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
Harry and Adrée Hahn were given as a wedding present in 1919, a painting purported to be by the hand of Leonardo da Vinci. There was in the art world a certain snobbery that defied a couple from Kansas, of all places, to be in possession of an original by da Vinci, indeed!

Between 1900-1914 300 articles on American collecting of European Old Masters America were written; America was obsessed with the value, the purchase price of art work. "The issue of 'How do we know? How can we distinguish orig
...more
R.
Feb 03, 2011 R. rated it liked it
Some of my recent favorite reads have been non-fiction books that bring a topic I may or may not have been interested in beforehand to life. The Immortality of Henrietta Lacks and Devil in the White City come to mind as great examples of utterly engrossing non-fiction reads. I hoped this book would be of a similar vein- it seemed to have all of the elements: scandal involving a Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, a slew of questionable art world characters, International museums and art galleries mix ...more
Diana
May 27, 2013 Diana rated it liked it
Shelves: art-books
An interesting read though some parts dragged rather badly.Too many people's names to retain them all but what is amazing is that no-one seems to know still who painted it and what its provenance really is. The attitude of Duveen and his cohorts raises some interesting questions - how many fakes are hanging in our museums? Does it matter? Who can one trust to make an attribution? And has much changed since 1929?
Tuck
Oct 01, 2010 Tuck rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
sort of a dull treatment, but 3 stars because in the end, there is still no resolution. Le Belle is still in a storage vault, unsold. the remnants of the family who brought her to usa are still tortured by intrigue, lawyers, and debt. the "art" world is still run by art goons. and we still don't know if this hahn belle is a true Leonardo, or if the Louvre belle is a true Leonardo, or if they are both fakes. what a bizarre international story of high art and low motives.
Carol
Nov 28, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-art-history
Far more informative than I would have thought. The Kansas City "Leonardo" painting is really only an excuse for a wide ranging discussion of provenance, connoisseurship, and the technical analysis of painting. The practices of art dealers such as Duveen and their experts like Berenson are closely scrutinized. And the American Leonardo, it is probably a later copy, alas.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
An interesting story, though if this were a novel I'd say that the narrative structure and pacing could use some work. Had some interesting thoughts about art and the nature of people who produce it, as a side note, around page 225 IIRC.
Judy
Jul 02, 2010 Judy rated it liked it
It was interesting to learn that emotion not science still determines fakes from forgery. I doubt if the American Leonardo is really a Leonardo but it is los and a total wastet to the world as long as those who own it fight over it and keep it hidden from public view.
Amanda
May 07, 2011 Amanda rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
More about a court case involving a supposed-Leonardo and the development of art assessment than the history of the actual art itself. interesting, but not exactly what I had in mind.
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