Laura Morelli's assistant, Jacqueline M. Howard, suggested that I do a Q&A on Laura Morelli's two 2020 releases. I have posted a review of The Giant on Shomeret: Masked Reviewer here . This is a book dealing with Michelangelo's David. It's still the most viewed post of 2020 on that other blog. I also posted a review of The Night Portrait on this blog here . This second 2020 novel focuses on the creation of Leonardo Da Vinci's Lady With An Ermine and its later history during WWII. After posting these reviews, I sent questions to Laura Morelli relating to each of these books. Today she responded. Because one of these reviews appeared on each of my blogs, I decided that the Q&A should be posted on both of them.
Questions Related to The Giant
Question 1) In The Giant Michelangelo tells Jacopo that the Signorina of Florence wanted him to build a bronze replica of the David. I did a search for bronze replica of Michelangelo's David and found that the bronze replica standing in Florence was designed by the architect Guiseppe Poggi in the 1860's. I discovered that it was part of a much larger project devoted to Michelangelo called the Piazzale Michelangelo. Wikipedia says that Florence was doing urban renewal at the time. Can you tell us something about the art history aspect of Piazzale Michelangelo?
Question 3) I read an article about the frequency of earthquakes in Italy during the 21st century and saw various items online about the vulnerability of Michelangelo's David to earthquakes due to weak ankles that could cause it to collapse. Has a conservator ever been hired to repair those ankles? There was also a 2014 proposal that the David be given an anti-seismic pedestal. Has this ever happened?
Question 4) Will there be a sequel to The Giant devoted to the Sistine Chapel ceiling?
Questions Related to The Night PortraitQuestion 1) Did Italian Renaissance artists other than Leonardo Da Vinci use their fingers for painting? Was Leonardo influenced by someone else who used this technique or was it a practice that was unique to him?
Question 2) The Night Portrait point of view character Dominic wonders how a solvent cleans a painting without damaging the paint. That's a question that I'd like answered myself.
Question 3) Why did you decide that Lucrezia Crivelli was the sitter for La Belle Ferroniere and that she resembled Cecilia very closely even though they were unrelated? There are those that argue that La Belle Ferroniere is a second portrait of Cecilia. Da Vinci could have created it from his sketches of Cecilia because she was no longer at Ludivico Sforza's court and was therefore unavailable. Her unavailability could explain why the Cecilia in La Belle Ferroniere isn't completely identical to the Cecilia depicted in Lady With An Ermine. Do you think this is at all likely?
The identity of the woman in this beautiful portrait--the so-called Belle Ferronnière--remains contested. We know Leonardo completed the picture during his tenure at the ducal court of Milan. This portrait bears some things in common with the Lady with the Ermine; that’s for certain. Many art historians believe the portrait represents Lucrezia Crivelli, who became Ludovico Sforza’s mistress after Cecilia Gallerani exited the ducal palace. Other scholars think it represents Beatrice d’Este, Ludovico’s bride who died in childbirth at 21.
Question 4) In the Leonardo's Portraits class that you did for those of us who pre-ordered The Night Portrait, you said that Raffaelo Sanzie known as Raphael was influenced by Da Vinci. What aspects of Raphael's painting style show this influence?