We have all seen, whether live, in photographs or on postcards, some of Claude Monet's legendary water lily paintings. They are in museums all over the world and are among the most beloved works of art of the past century. Yet, ironically, these soothing images were created amid terrible personal turmoil and sadness.
While the Civil War raged in America, another very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris. The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amid scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial.
"A marvelous book"
Early in 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began work in Milan on what would become one of history's most influential and beloved works of art - The Last Supper. After a dozen years at the court of Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, Leonardo was at a low point personally and professionally: at 43, in an era when he had almost reached the average life expectancy, he had failed, despite a number of prestigious commissions, to complete anything that truly fulfilled his astonishing promise.
"Informative yet creative"
In 1508, despite strong advice to the contrary, the powerful Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo Buonarroti to paint the ceiling of the newly restored Sistine Chapel in Rome. During the four extraordinary years that Michelangelo spent laboring over the ceiling, power politics and personal rivalries swirled around him. He battled ill health, financial and family difficulties, inadequate knowledge of the art of fresco, and the Pope's impatience - a history that is more compelling than most novels.
"History brought to life!"
While the Civil War raged in America, another, very different revolution was beginning to take shape across the Atlantic, in the studios of Paris. The artists who would make Impressionism the most popular art form in history were showing their first paintings amid scorn and derision from the French artistic establishment. Indeed, no artistic movement has ever been, at its inception, quite so controversial.
Part of the acclaimed Eminent Lives series, Machiavelli is a superb portrait of the brilliant and revolutionary political philosopher - history's most famous theorist of "warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed" - and the age he embodied. Ross King, the New York Times best-selling author of Brunelleschi's Dome, argues that the author of The Prince was a far more complex and sympathetic character than is often portrayed.
Twenty sizzling stories where control is everything. Whether you like to wear the trousers or be ordered out of them, these stories will have you a slave to your fantasies in no time. Every kind of sexual domination and submission is explored in Power Play, from tongue-in-cheek role play to intense BDSM.
After meeting the mysterious and beautiful Lady Beauclair at a society ball, George Cautley, a hapless young artist trying to make his way in the gilded world of 1770s London, paints her portrait while she tells him the scandalous story of Tristano, a castrato singer in Handel's opera company 50 years before. Cautley, seeking love and truth in an age of deception and disguise, flees to Bath, where he unwittingly finds himself re-enacting the tragic fate of Tristano.
"A confusing masquerade"