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Leonardo's Nephew: Essays on Art and Artists Hardcover – 5 Nov 1998


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Amazon Review

This savoury, erudite collection of essays makes a reader feel incomparably lucky, as if he or she is seated next to a learned, original, decently friendly fellow traveller on an intercontinental flight. Author James Fenton has a style that is both intimate and scholarly. It is always amusing and illuminating; it never cloys. The subjects of the 15 essays--all but two originally published in the New York Review of Books--include Freud's collection of statuary; the remarks of Renoir and Degas made at two parties in the same home (the artists, not on speaking terms, were invited on different nights); Jasper Johns' early life and his later use of the American flag in his paintings; a talented nephew of Leonardo da Vinci whose work was oddly described by both Vasari and Picasso; and more. Fenton's writing is most moving in those essays that take off from a chance thought or a bit of accidentally discovered history, like the one on Freud. And those that began as book reviews are in a class by themselves. Fenton generally shreds or praises his subjects according to his own meticulous research, which refreshingly tends toward primary sources, but occasionally he simply takes the reader aside. Quoting one critic, he groans: "If this sort of writing makes you want to throw up, I quite agree." His, on the other hand, makes one want to turn back to the beginning of the book and start all over again. --Peggy Moorman, Amazon.com

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to understand why Fenton was such a close friend ... 4 Mar. 2016
By Helen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A really exciting read! The very first essay got me thinking in a whole new way. Easy to understand why Fenton was such a close friend of Christopher Hitchens! Marvelous!
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Erudition as entertainment 10 April 2000
By Fernando Cidade Burjato - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of fifteen short essays, but we read them as if it were a book of short stories, or as if it were a novel. Fenton's prose is something we read at ease, it can amuse us as well as give us some important informations about diverse subjects - Freud's interest on statuary; Pierino da Vinci, a sculptor who had a legendary oncle; Degas'anti-semitism; the enigmas behind Jasper Johns's pictures of the american flag. The author shows the same eloquence writing about the late Renaissance as well as when he discourses about Rauschenberg and his contemporaries. "Leonardo's nephew" is not exactly a work of a critic - it's at the same time a book of a scholar and a collection of curious stories about art and the art scene, that you can read while waiting for your bus.
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