In 1504, the informal rivalry between two of the most celebrated artists in Florence became a direct competition. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint a scene from the ancient battle of Cascina on a wall of the Palazzo Vecchio—in the same room where Leonardo da Vinci had already been commissioned to paint a scene from another great Florentine victory, the battle of Anghiari. As the paintings progressed, Michelangelo set out to prove that his work, not Leonardo’s, embodied the future of art. In fact, the influence of both is visible in the works of subsequent generations of artists.
Historian and art critic Jonathan Jones offers a riveting exploration of this great rivalry, which would become a turning point in the careers of both men, and brings to life an era of fascinating political and cultural transformation.
About the Author
Jonathan Jones is the art critic of the Guardian. He appears in the BBC television series Private Life of a Masterpiece and gives talks at the Tate and other galleries. In 2009 he was a judge for the Turner Prize. Jonathan lives in London with his wife and daughter.
A Modern Art Notes Best Book of the Year
“An informative celebration of two competing geniuses.”
“An intricate plot . . . [with] provocative ideas.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Thrilling . . . Written with a novelist’s sense of pace.” —The Independent (London)
“Fascinating, revelatory and often daring. . . . Jones makes a wonderful guide to this dramatic moment of history.” —Christian Science Monitor
“Art lovers, Renaissance junkies, and even travelers will love this book.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Delightful. . . . Vibrant . . . Sparing neither the two artists, nor Florence, their quirks of character. They are flanked by a vivid parade of supporting characters.”
—The American Scholar
“Energetic, fast-paced . . . [and] dazzling.”
“[Jones] recreates for us the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of 16th century Florence.... [And] compellingly creates the world the two antagonists inhabited, replete with a cast of interesting and colorful supporting characters. . . . That propels us as surely as any well written novel, straight through to the final page.”
—New York Journal of Books
“There is sensuous finesse in Jones's descriptions.”
“The Lost Battles . . . reanimates the giddy heights of the Renaissance through its evocation of a mighty scrap between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.”
—The Daily Telegraph