An intricate and fun art mystery surrounding an old painting.



Debut authors Kashani and Moss offer a revisionist take on an obscure painting in their art history debut.

Kashani, an Iranian American antiquities dealer, believes he has found a lost painting by the 16th-century Dutch artist Cornelis van Haarlem, who the authors say is sometimes called “the Da Vinci of the Dutch” or “the Michelangelo of the North.” The painting, Single Combat, depicts the battle between two sets of warrior triplets, the Horatii and the Curiatii, as recounted in the writings of the Roman historian Livy. Kashani acquired it in 2000 and since then has been seeking to authenticate it as the lost “battle scene” mentioned in an inventory at the time of the artist’s death and to decode the complex visual message hidden in—and underneath—its paint. As Kashani tells it with help from Moss, the painting reveals connections to Leonardo, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, and others and to two of the ancient world’s greatest empires. As the mystery unravels, the book reveals itself to be not only an in-depth glimpse into a distant moment in art history, but also an exploration of one man’s singular obsession to prove a highly unorthodox theory. Kashani is like a character out of a novel: eccentric, cultured, verbose, and happily at war with establishment thinking. “I’ll share my secrets—or rather Cornelis’ secrets—with you, gentle reader,” he writes in his introduction. “Far from wallowing in self-pity for feeling misunderstood, I’ve learned to kill my ego, stand strong, move forward with integrity, and make existence count regardless of academia’s prejudices.” In addition to the historical background on Cornelis and his work—fascinating in and of itself—this handsomely designed book bolsters its case with zoomed-in photographs of tiny sections of the painting and with related art, including portraits of artists and engravings of the city of Haarlem. There is as much talk of codes as in a Dan Brown novel, and at some point the reader begins to lose the thread, but the puzzle is certainly an enjoyable one to attempt to solve. Whether or not they accept Kashani’s theories, readers will come away with a greater understanding of just how much information a given painting has to communicate—and the extent to which that meaning depends, like beauty, on the eye of the beholder.

An intricate and fun art mystery surrounding an old painting.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-59326-5

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Kashani Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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