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The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci's Italy

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,058 ratings  ·  237 reviews
"This is a truly original novel that has earned its place among my favorite works of historical fiction."--Jennifer Robson, USA Today bestselling author of The Gown

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction
Paperback, 496 pages
Published September 8th 2020 by William Morrow Paperbacks
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Laura Morelli Yes, the portrait was stolen. In the story, it also travels back and forth a lot at night between Poland and Germany. Happy reading! :)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Start your review of The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci's Italy
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fans of historical fiction will enjoy The Night Portrait. The book is set during WWII and also in the late 15th century in Renaissance Italy. It starts with Leonard da Vinci who is preparing to leave Florence and pursue opportunities in the Duchy of Milan. Da Vincis head is filled with ideas for great machinery and inventions yet he knows it is his paintings that will sustain him. He goes to work for Ludovico Sforza, the Regent of Milan, who has taken young and beautiful Cecilia Gallerani as his ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter for an egalley in exchange for an honest review.

A compelling historical fiction,  The Night Portrait as the title suggests is set into historical timelines; Da Vinci's Italy( 1490's) and World War II and surrounds the creation of the artist's painting Portrait of a Lady with Ermine. In the former, we have the young Cecilia who rises up to the height of a nobleman's mistress and still desires to climb higher. But Cecilia's family,
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
"The Night Portrait" is a dual-narrative historical fiction of two women set in both the time of Renaissance Italy and in 1940s Europe during the height of World War II's messy ending. The narrative has a lot of twists and turns and kept me on my toes with the connection between Cecilia and Edith over 500 years. This book was a treat!

In Renaissance Italy, Cecilia is a beautiful girl trying to change her fate from that of a nobleman's mistress to that of a titled noblewoman. She is such a
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
THE NIGHT PORTRAIT is set in a dual timeline ranging from 1492, Milan, to Munich during WWII.

We meet Cecilia Gallerani who is the woman in Leonardo Da Vincis famous portrait Lady with An Ermine. We follow her life as the mistress of Ludovico il Moro. It isnt a life I would have wanted to live.

We then meet American soldiers who are helping the Monuments Men retrieve stolen paintings and Edith Becker a German art expert ordered by the Reich to find the most valuable paintings that were hidden by
Carol lowkey.bookish
The book switches between Milan in the 1490s and Munich during WWII. The Milan chapters describing the Duke of Milans mistress, Cecilia, were the most fascinating to me. I was captivated by Cecilias story, a 16 year old who becomes a mistress to the Duke of Milan. Add to this the imagined interactions between Cecilia and da Vinci and you have a stellar historical fiction novel.

The WWII chapters mainly center around Edith, who is an art conservator who unwittingly brings Portrait of a Lady with
Deanne Patterson
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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Quite possibly the best historical novel I've read this year! Amazing in every way!
A split time level taking place in Italy in the 1490's and Germany,Poland and a slight bit of Greensburg, Pennsylvania in the 1940's.
The connection between the time periods is Leonardo Da Vichy's painting Lady with an Ermine, featuring Cecilia Gallerani, and was probably painted at a time when she was the mistress of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan.
Lori Spielman
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Laura Morellis The Night Portrait is simply a masterpiece. Morelli imagines a sophisticated plot, fleshes it out with historically significant characters, and spins it into a truly spectacular read. Rarely have I been so caught up in a book as I was with this unforgettable tale of bravery and love, hope and redemption. Fans of Kristin Hannahs Nightingale and Anthony Doerrs All the Light We Cannot See will delight in this epic novel. ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, giveaways
Wonderful book which I won from the Goodreads giveaway program.

A book for any lover of WW2 literature which remains steadfastly true to the time. Told from four viewpoints set in different times and locales: two in the 1490's from Leonardo da Vinci, who is currently working on paintings (instead of the inventions he loves to work on!) and Cecilia Gallerani, also in Italy, who is believed the young woman in daVinci's portrait of 'Lady With an Ermine.'

And two from the 1939 thru to 1945, in
Oct 07, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is slow. It does not live up to the description which I certainly found interesting.
It felt like two different books in one: Leonardo/Cecilia (1400s) and Edith/Dominic (1944/45 WWII).
The meeting between Dominic and Edith is beyond any possible coincidence.
There are characters mentioned for a moment but had no real connection or reason to be in the story at all. Ediths father and fiancé. Dominics wife and daughter except that Dominics daughter is named Cecelia (weird coincidence?).
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli is a beautifully written and well researched historical novel of Leonardo Da Vincis famous painting The lady with the Ermine.
Set in two timelines and several POVs , 1490s Milan when the portrait was painted and 1940s Poland/ Germany where the Nazis stole artwork including The Lady and the Ermine so Hitler could have the finest art collection in the world.
Leonardo Da Vinci full of ideas about machinery is hired by Ludovico Sforza to paint his mistress Cecilia
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-books-read
This is a really enjoyable historical novel that takes place over several different time periods and is told in four different characters voices. The different time periods and voices work well together to tell one well woven story; the story of a famous piece of art by Leonardo da Vinci. I would have happily immersed myself for longer in any of their stories, but I especially would have loved to stay with Cecilia in Renaissance Italy for just a little bit longer. This story brings home ...more
Alyssa Palombo
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to receive an early copy of this book for a blurb, and I loved it and could hardly put it down! Keep this one on your radar for its release in September. My blurb is below:

"THE NIGHT PORTRAIT is a compelling page turner at the same time as it is a mesmerizing meditation on legacy, guilt and complicity, the horrors of war, and most of all, the singular power of art. This well-researched and vivid novel is sure to thrill history buffs and art lovers alike."
Sarah Wagner
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Moving between Renaissance Italy and World War II Europe, this novel is centered around Leonardo da Vinci's painting Lady with an Ermine, which was seized by the Nazis during the war. I had read a nonfiction book about the Monuments Men, a special military division tasked with locating artwork stolen by the Nazis, a few years ago, but this novel really brought to life what rescuing some of these pieces of art must have been like. And, of course, I loved the parts of the novel set in Renaissance ...more
Terrie Robinson
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!
Recommended to Terrie by: Goodreads Giveaways
"The Night Portrait: A Novel of WWII and da Vinci's Italy" by Laura Morelli is amazing!

How do you write historical fiction blending Leonardo da Vinci, one of his most famous paintings, a German Art Conservator and the WWII Nazi Invasion of Europe? All I can say is ask Laura Morelli because she did it and the proof is in this book!

The four main characters are introduced to the reader via alternating chapters in the third person of Cecilia, Edith and Dominic and in the first person voice of
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Night Portrait by Laura Morelli is an excellent historical fiction that takes the reader through two different locations and centuries: late 15th century Florence and Milan and Poland/Germany 1939-1946. Within each timeline, the author weaves a tale between two main characters. In 1496: Leonardo da Vinci himself and Cecilia Gallerani, a young girl who ends up posing for one of his beautiful paintings. The WWII timeframe alternates between Edith, a German art restorer/curator that is asked to ...more
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was gifted with a PDF of The Night Portrait well in advance of publication, but was unable to read it because I couldn't adjust the miniscule font on my Kindle e-reader. So I had to wait until my pre-ordered copy arrived from Amazon. Unfortunately, I had another review commitment to deal with when it arrived on my Kindle. This is why it took me longer to get to this dual period novel dealing with the creation of Leonardo Da Vinci's Lady With An Ermine and its later history during World War II. ...more
Laura Pirtle
Nov 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is my second book by Laura Morelli, she has written a number of books taking place in Italy - one of my favorite holiday destinations. These days armchair travel appears to be the norm and this fit the bill nicely.

Yes there are 4 points of view here, it wasn't hard to keep track of, each was unique and interesting. One just needed to be patient to see how they would intersect.

In 1939 Edith is placed in a position that goes against everything she believes and struggles throughout the war
Krisette Spangler
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel was interesting, because it was told from the point of view of four different people. It really kept the book moving, and I enjoyed the storyline. It's a great novel if you would like to learn more about Hitler's plan to steal all of the artwork of Europe and take it to Germany.

My only complaint was the author repeated how people were feeling over and over again. That always bothers me. Readers don't need to be constantly reminded how sad everyone is.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway, and was so excited I did! I put down all other books when it came to start reading it. I loved the story! I hope many of my friends read it and love it.
Tena Bremmer
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway. A very interesting and heart touching read. Two different generations brought together through art work. I loved the story of how the painting of Lady with an Ermine came about and the characters that were involved with protecting it 500 years later. A really great book!
Sep 02, 2020 added it
Shelves: arcs, netgalley
"The Night Portrait" by Laura Morelli is historical fiction at its best and is not your typical World War II novel! Told through two timelines and four characters, it is the story of the origins of one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings and of the people who sought to keep it safe from the Nazis during World War II. This book is extremely well-researched and very well-written, with highly developed characters who seem to come alive from the pages. The descriptions of both 1490's Milan ...more
Kimberly Mussell
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Night Portrait is a novel of exceptional writing. Based on factual events and people, this novel will pull you in. Intertwined characters from the 1400s and the 1930s-1940s brings the story to life. Five stars! This is a must read for fans of historical fiction.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Sep 29, 2020 rated it liked it
2.5, if I'm honest. Da Vinci paints Lady with an Ermine in the 1490s and a German art restorer in the 1930s and 40s is caught up in WWII, and a Pittsburgh soldier lands in Normandy and protects art in Poland and Germany. Is that enough for you? With four strands and four narrators, there's a lot going on, yet this novel needs stronger editing to avoid cliches in description, in repetition, in forced comparisons across centuries. Slogging through elaborate descriptions might have been an attempt ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a split narrative historical fiction that didn't quite work for me. Following DaVinci's Young Girl with Ermine from its creation through its capture by the Nazis in 1939, the story featured four narrators - Cecilia, the eponymous young girl, DaVinci himself, Edith, a German art restorer forced by the Nazis to find priceless works of art, and Dominic, an American soldier working with the Monuments Men to find and restore the art to its rightful owners. Unfortunately, it felt a little too ...more
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Chapters jump from character to character. Distracting. Two stories in one. How the painting came to be and how the painting was saved. Interesting concept for story. Nicely written. Not challenging.
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways.

So this book is more like 3.8 stars. There are some pros and cons to it.

Pros: First, the writing is excellent and easy to follow and doesn't get bogged down with foreign words that it could have since it was set in Germany, Poland, and Italy. Second, the research that was done for this novel shows, especially in Dominic's story line. His reactions to war, (view spoiler) are all experiences
Ashley Tyler
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A big thank you is owed to NetGallery, Author Laura Morelli, and William Morrow Paperbacks for giving me a free E-book Arc of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This book creates a wonderful fictional story about one of the most famous paintings Da Vinci's "Lady with an ermine," while also follows events during WWII from both the start of the war and the liberation and the operations of the monument men. If you are drawn to see inside the world of ...more
Paul Manytravels
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it

The Night Portrait utilizes intertwining plots to carry parallel stories regarding Leonardo da Vincis painting, Lady with an Ermine. There exist only 19 known paintings of de Vincis and this is one of them. The novel entertains and engages with its fictional storylines and enlightens with its historical accuracy regarding both the painting and its history.
One storyline explores the creation of the painting, coupling the life of its actual subject, Cecilia Gallerani with the work of the artist
460 pages

5 stars

It is 1939 in Germany. The Nazis are set to move against Poland. Hitler plans to build a museum to house all of the world's great art there.

Edith Becker, an art conservator, is central to this story. She is determined to keep the beloved painting Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci out of the hands of the Butcher of Poland, Hans Frank. In 1939, she is ordered to go to Poland to conserve the art there. What he really means is to steal the great artworks to give to the Nazis.
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