Best Selling Books by Simon Schama

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release date: Sep 30, 2014
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The Essential Cy Twombly
Recognized as one of the greatest and most idiosyncratic artists of the postwar era, Cy Twombly left behind an oeuvre of incredible versatility, sensitivity and originality upon his death in 2011 at age 83. Working in the immediate aftermath of Abstract Expressionism, Twombly developed an intensely personal scription consisting of scrawled letters and words, in an effusive, calligraphic mark-making that suggests a kind of painted poetry. Working across painting, drawing, sculpture and photography with a restless energy, Twombly incorporated the gods of Ancient Greece, the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé and the history, culture and mythology of the Occident into his art. The Essential Cy Twombly, edited by Twombly's longtime collaborator Nicola Del Roscio, is the ultimate overview of his work, presenting the most important paintings and cycles of paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs from Twombly's diverse oeuvre. The most accessible survey of his work to date, this volume includes essays by Laszlo Glozer, Thierry Greub, Kirk Varnedoe and Simon Schama.
Edwin Parker (Cy) Twombly (1928-2011) was born in Lexington, Virginia. He lived and worked in New York in the early 1950s (where he met Robert Rauschenberg, with whom he was to have a long personal and artistic relationship) and studied at the legendary Black Mountain College in North Carolina before traveling around North Africa, Spain and Italy and ultimately settling in Rome before the end of the decade, just as the art world was shifting its center of gravity to New York. Best known for his paintings and drawings, often executed on a massive scale across multiple canvases, Twombly also made sculptures and photographs.
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release date: Oct 24, 2017
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Damien Hirst: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

This fully illustrated catalog accompanies Damien Hirst’s (born 1965) most ambitious project to date, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.

The exhibition of 189 works is now on display in Venice, across the two expansive museum spaces of the Pinault Collection: Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi.

Exceptional in scale and scope, this complex project has been almost ten years in the making and tells the story of an ancient shipwreck and its recent discovery. The catalog features 200 color plates, installation images and a comprehensive, illustrated list of works with texts on selected pieces. Also included is an essay by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio, who discovered the lost city of Thonis-Heracleion off the Egyptian shore in 2000. In addition are contributions from historian Simon Schama and curator Henri Loyrette, former director of the Louvre, as well as the exhibition’s curator, Elena Geuna.

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release date: Mar 17, 1990
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Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
In this New York Times bestseller, award-winning author Simon Schama presents an ebullient country, vital and inventive, infatuated with novelty and technology--a strikingly fresh view of Louis XVI's France. One of the great landmarks of modern history publishing, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is the most authoritative social, cultural, and narrative history of the French Revolution ever produced.
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release date: Mar 18, 2014
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The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BC - 1492 AD

In this magnificently illustrated cultural history—the tie-in to the PBS and BBC series The Story of the Jews—Simon Schama details the story of the Jewish experience, tracing it across three millennia, from their beginnings as an ancient tribal people to the opening of the New World in 1492 to the modern day.

It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds.

It spans the millennia and the continents—from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain.

In The Story of the Jews, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris, massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a Majorcan illuminator redraws the world; candles are lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, ships loaded with spice and gems founder at sea.

And a great story unfolds. Not—as often imagined—of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians.

Which makes the story of the Jews everyone's story, too.

release date: Oct 24, 2017
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The Story of the Jews Volume Two: Belonging: 1492-1900

In the second of three volumes of this magnificently illustrated cultural history, the tie-in to the PBS and BBC series The Story of the Jews, Simon Schama details the story of the Jewish people from 1492 through the end of nineteenth century

Simon Schama’s great project continues and the Jewish story is woven into the fabric of humanity. Their search for a home where a distinctive religion and culture could be nourished without being marginalized suddenly takes on startling resonance in our own epoch of homelessness, wanderings, persecutions, and anxious arrivals.

Volume 2 of The Story of the Jews epic tells the stories of many who seldom figure in Jewish histories: not just the rabbis and the philosophers but a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a general in Ming China; a boxer in Georgian England, a Bible showman in Amsterdam; a teacher of the deaf in eighteenth-century France, an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stagecoaches and the railways, trudges the dawn streets of London with a pack load of old clothes, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon’s ruined army.

Through Schama’s passionate and intelligent telling, a story emerges of the Jewish people that feels as if it is the story of everyone, of humanity packed with detail, this second chronicle in an epic tale will shed new light on a crucial period of history.

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release date: Dec 08, 1997
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The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
Schama explores the mysterious contradictions of the Dutch nation that invented itself from the ground up, attained an unprecedented level of affluence, and lived in constant dread of being corrupted by happiness. Drawing on a vast array of period documents and sumptuously reproduced art, Schama re-creates in precise detail a nation's mental state. He tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. He tells us how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were slandered by their enemies.



"History on the grand scale...An ambitious portrait of one of the most remarkable episodes in modern history."--New York Times


"Wonderfully inclusive; with wit and intense curiosity he teases out meaning from every aspect of Dutch seventeenth-century life."--Robert Hughes
release date: Sep 16, 2016
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The Face of Britain: A History of the Nation Through Its Portraits
Author of a number of celebrated works, including the bestselling The Story of the Jews and Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Simon Schama's latest book fuses history and art to create a tour de force of narrative sweep and illuminating insight. Using images from works-paintings, photographs, lithographs, etchings, sketches-found in London's National Portrait Gallery, The Face of Britain weaves together an account of their composition, framed by their particular moment of creation, and in the process unveils a collective portrait of nation and its history.

"Portraits," Schama writes, "have always been made with an eye to posterity." Commissioned to paint Winston Churchill in 1954, Graham Sutherland struggled with how to capture the "savior" of Great Britain honestly and humanely. Schama calls the portrait, initially damned, the "most powerful image of a Great Briton ever executed." Annie Leibovitz's photograph of a nude John Lennon kissing Yoko Ono, taken five hours before his murder, bears "a weight of poignancy she could not possibly have anticipated." Hans Holbein's preparatory sketch for a portrait of Henry VIII depicts "an unstoppable engine of dynastic generation." Here are expressions from across the centuries of normalcy and heroism, beauty and disfigurement, aristocracy and deprivation, the familiar and the obscure-the faces of courtesans, warriors, workers, activists, playwrights, the high and mighty as well as pub-crawlers. Linking them is Schama's vibrant exploration of how their connective power emerges from the dynamic between subject and artist, work and viewer, time and place.

Schama's compelling analysis and impassioned evocation of these works create an unforgettable verbal mosaic that at once reveals and transforms the images he places before us. Lavishly illustrated and written with the storytelling brio that is Schama's trademark, The Face of Britain invites us to look at a nation's visual legacies and find its reflection.
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release date: Nov 05, 1996
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Landscape And Memory
A Time Magazine Best Books of the Year. In Landscape and Memory, award-winning author Simon Schama ranges over continents and centuries to reveal the psychic claims that human beings have made on nature. He tells of the Nazi cult of the primeval German forest; the play of Christian and pagan myth in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the duel between a monumental sculptor and a feminist gadfly on the slopes of Mount Rushmore. The result is a triumphant work of history, naturalism, mythology, and art, as encyclopedic as The Golden Bough and as irresistibly readable as Schama's own Citizens

"A work of great ambition and enormous intellectual scope...consistently provocative and revealing."--New York Times


"Extraordinary...a summary cannot convey the riches of this book. It will absorb, instruct, and fascinate."--New York Review of Books
release date: Nov 16, 1999
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Rembrandt's Eyes
For Rembrandt as for Shakespeare, all the world was indeed a stage, and he knew in exhaustive detail the tactics of its performance: the strutting and mincing; the wardrobe and the face paint; the full repertoire of gesture and grimace; the flutter of hands and the roll of the eyes; the belly laugh and the half-stifled sob. He knew what it looked like to seduce, to intimidate, to wheedle, and to console; to strike a pose or preach a sermon; to shake a fist or uncover a breast; how to sin and how to atone; how to commit murder and how to commit suicide. No artist had ever been so fascinated by the fashioning of personae, beginning with his own. No painter ever looked with such unsparing intelligence or such bottomless compassion at our entrances and our exits and the whole rowdy show in between.

More than three centuries after his death, Rembrandt remains the most deeply loved of all the great masters of painting, his face so familiar to us from the self-portraits painted at every stage in his life, yet still so mysterious. As with Shakespeare, the facts of his life are hard to come by: the Leiden miller's son who briefly found fame in Amsterdam, whose genius was fitfully recognized by his contemporaries, who fell into bankruptcy and died in poverty. So there is probably no painter whose life has engendered more legends, nor to whom more unlikely pictures have been attributed (a process now undergoing rigorous reversal). Rembrandt's Eyes, about which Simon Schama has been thinking for more than twenty years, shows that the true biography of Rembrandt is to be discovered in his pictures. Through a succession of superbly incisive descriptions and interpretations of Rembrandt's paintings threaded into this narrative, he allows us to see Rembrandt's life clearly and to think about it afresh.

But this book moves far beyond the bounds of conventional biography or art history. With extraordinary imaginative sympathy, Schama conjures up the world in which Rembrandt moved -- its sounds, smells, and tastes as well as its politics; the influences on him of the wars of the Protestant United Provinces against Spain, of the extreme Calvinism of his native Leiden, of the demands of patrons and the ambitions of contemporaries; the importance of his beloved Saskia and, after her death (Rembrandt was later forced to sell her grave, so complete was his ruin), of his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels; and, above all, the profound effect on him of the great master of the immediately preceding generation, the Catholic painter from Antwerp, Peter Paul Rubens:
"the prince of painters and the painter of princes" with whom Rembrandt was obsessed for the first part of his life, and whose career was the shaping force that drove Rembrandt to test the farthest reaches of his own originality.

Rembrandt's Eyes shows us why Rembrandt is such a thrilling painter, so revolutionary in his art, so penetrating of the hearts of those who have looked for three hundred years at his pictures. Above all, Schama's understanding of Rembrandt's mind and the dynamic of his life allows him to re-create Rembrandt's life on the page. Through a combination of scholarship and literary skill, Schama allows us to actually see that life through Rembrandt's own eyes.  In overcoming the paucity of conventional historical evidence, it is the most intelligently true biography of Rembrandt that has been written, and the most dazzling achievement to date of the art historian whose work has been hailed as "marvelously rich and eloquent" . . . "rare, imaginative" . . . "provocative" . . . "astoundingly learned with verve, humor, and an unflagging sense of delight" . . . that of "a master
storyteller . . . and "a master of history."*
*From the New York Times Book Review, Time, The New York Times, The Independent on Sunday, and Nature.
release date: Oct 04, 2016
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Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington
The artists Cy Twombly and Sally Mann may at first seem an unlikely pairing. He was a leading contemporary artist who defied easy categorization, a painter and sculptor whose enigmatic work often referenced mythology and epic poetry. She is a photographer with an uncanny ability to tap raw human emotion, whether depicting members of her family or the landscape of the American South. What they had in common was place—both grew up in rural Lexington, Virginia, where Twombly kept a studio and produced some of his most important work until his death in 2011, and where Mann has lived and worked all her life. Over the course of several years, Mann photographed inside Twombly’s studio: the paint splatters on the floor and walls, the works in progress, the sculptures as they caught the raking rays of light passing through Venetian blinds, the progression from order to chaos that so often characterizes an artist’s working place. The result is a rare insider’s view of Twombly’s process—we sense him in the room at every turn, although he is always just beyond the frame—and a poetic dialogue between two artistic visions.
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