Congratulations! You are a premier subscriber to our monthly Newsletter. To thank you for jumping on board, you got our special sangria recipe and are ready to raise a “copa” to toast our journey through lost art, forgotten women artists and updates on Attribution which debuts in October 2022.

Make a pitcher and dream about who painted that canvas in your grandmother’s house! Perhaps like Cate in Attribution you too will discover a masterpiece!

Lost and Found

I love coming across these stories. The appearance of a hidden masterpiece happens not only in novels like Attribution, but in real life, more often than you might imagine. Here’s a recent story about a missing Titian. Yes a Titian!

The Pentitent Magdelene is a highlight of the Old Master paintings auction on 11 May 2022. The auction house is expecting a sale of $1.2 million or more.

A missing painting by Titian, recently rediscovered, will be offered for sale at Dorotheum´s Old Master Paintings on 11th May 2022 in Vienna. The work was once owned by Christina, Queen of Sweden (1629-1689), then by Philippe, Duke of Orléans (1674-1723), and then it landed in the hands of some British nobles, one of whom was the great grandfather of the current owner. Apparently the owner paid little attention to it until he decided to sell it. It will be offered for sale at auction for the first time in over 150 years.

The Penitent Magdalen was a favorite subject of Titian and this rediscovered painting is considered one of the finest examples. I love the composition with her leaning on a skull, an iconic reminder to all sinners that life is short.

Many studies of Titian’s penitent Magdalens have been done and this painting was considered lost. The brochure on the painting, which includes the work of Paul Joannides, Titian scholar who has authenticated the painting as a legit Titian, goes into great detail about the canvas, the pigments, the icons and radiography. In other words, the same work Cate is doing in Attribution.  Read more here: https://www.dorotheum.com/fileadmin/user_upload/Presse/2022/Booklet_Tizian_2022_Digital.pdf

Forgotten and Discovered- Women Super Stars

Sofonisba Anguissola (Cremona, Italy 1532-1625)

Let’s call her Sofi and get to know her. In the sixteenth century, her talent caught the attention of Michelangelo and King Phillip II of Spain. Sofi’s father, a noble without great wealth, paid for Sofi to be tutored in painting, unusual for a young girl in these times, but her talent was quickly recognized.

Michelangelo learned of her work and asked if Sofi could sketch a crying child, much more difficult than portraits of smiling children. She drew her brother as a Boy Bitten by a Crayfish (1554), a sketch of a crying child, his mother trying to comfort him, not saints, not a noble family, and not mythological figures, but a completely human scene. Michelangelo was so impressed he agreed to tutor her. She was 22. Forty years later the drawing of the crying boy would inspire Caravaggio to paint an expressive masterwork called Boy Bitten by a Lizard (1594).

Vasari the famous 16th c. art critic wrote of Sofi’s A Portrait of the Artist’s Sisters Playing Chess, “they appear alive.” In a move away from the divine to naturalism, Sofi developed a style that not only reflected her reality but showed women engaged in a strategic game with sisterly competitiveness. In the 1500s works of women painted as real people, not objects, painted by a woman were unheard of.

At age 27, Sofi was invited to be a painter in the Spanish court of Phillip II, as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth of Valois, with whom she developed a friendship as her painting tutor. When the Queen died, Sofi was so respected as a court painter and so loved by King Phillip II and his family, that she, a single woman unusual in her time, was invited to stay on. She stayed for years and became one of Europe’s most admired court painters.

In 1624, the year before she died, Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck visited her in Italy and painted a portrait of the remarkable elderly woman. Van Dyck wrote that “her eyesight was weakened,” but was she still quite sharp-witted. He said she taught him the insights of portrait painting.

After the 18th c. Sofi disappeared and was nearly forgotten until recent years in part because of Linda Nochlin, the inventor of feminist art history. Nochlin asked the question in an important essay (1971): “Why have there been no great women artists?” The answer of course, is that there have been; we just don’t know about them from art scholars like H.W. Janson who omitted women from their scholarly publications.

Many of Sofi’s paintings remained in the royal collection in Madrid and were ascribed to Sanchez Coello who was the head royal painter when Sofi was there. The Prado in Madrid recently reattributed works including this portrait of King Phillip II and celebrated Sofi’s accomplishments with an exhibition in 2020 alongside Lavinia Fontana (1552-1614) another woman who almost disappeared from the art chronicles. Here’s a link to the exhibiton: https://www.museodelprado.es/e…

As the world learns more of her extraordinary talent, we will uncover more works by her and learn of other “great women artists.”.

The Book Journey

Wow! -Early praise for Attribution- Trending at #1 on Goodreads’ list of 2022 Debut Novels.

We are so grateful for your support to help get Attribution in front of readers. Thank you, thank you again and again.

Meanwhile….

Back at the keyboard edits and more edits—polishing Attribution to the best it can be. Now we are finishing the Advanced Reader Copy and soon will have more reviews and feedback. If you are on Goodreads or Bookbub and have not already marked it ‘Want to Read.’ Or if you have read it – I would appreciate it if you would post a review. These lists matter because they help bookstores, librarians and others decide to order the book.

Watch this space— Soon we should have a book to hold in our hands.

I will feel like Cate when she lifts the canvas out of that hidden chest like “a newborn infant being brought from its mother’s womb.” It’s been a decade of gestation and time to see this baby’s face!