10 books like Rembrandt's Eyes

By Simon Schama,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Rembrandt's Eyes. Shepherd is a community of 8,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Eye of the Beholder

By Laura J Snyder,

Book cover of Eye of the Beholder: Johannes Vermeer, Antoni Van Leeuwenhoek, and the Reinvention of Seeing

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From the list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Who am I?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Discover why each book is one of Hugh's favorite books.

Why did Hugh love this book?

The Dutch Golden Age produced some of the world’s greatest art, but – less known – it was also a period of astonishing scientific and technical innovation. Snyder gets to the heart of the intrinsic connection between the worlds of art and science when she examines the lives of two of the greatest innovators who were born in the same month of 1632 and lived and worked in the same tiny city of Delft, and yet who may never have known each other or even met: the painter Vermeer and the pioneer of the microscope, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek.

Although it is frustrating that there is no record of the two men having met – we can only conjecture the kind of conversation they might have had, with their common interest in the use of light and the understanding of optical phenomena – this in a way is the point of…

Eye of the Beholder

By Laura J Snyder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eye of the Beholder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On a summer day in 1674, in the small Dutch city of Delft, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek-a cloth salesman, local bureaucrat, and self-taught natural philosopher-gazed through a tiny lens set into a brass holder and discovered a never-before imagined world of microscopic life. At the same time, in a nearby attic, the painter Johannes Vermeer was using another optical device, a camera obscura, to experiment with light and create the most luminous pictures ever beheld.

"See for yourself!" was the clarion call of the 1600s. Scientists peered at nature through microscopes and telescopes, making the discoveries in astronomy, physics, chemistry, and…


The Great Level

By Stella Tillyard,

Book cover of The Great Level

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From the list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Who am I?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Discover why each book is one of Hugh's favorite books.

Why did Hugh love this book?

Fiction allows for the portrayal of a kind of absorption in the processes and materials of a historical period that is unusual in nonfiction. It can give a powerful sense of how time actually passed for people. Vermeer’s chaotic domestic routine as a painter was splendidly imagined by Tracy Chevalier in Girl with a Pearl Earring, for example. But the technical innovators of the Dutch Golden Age – the telescopists, the astronomers, the surveyors and engineers – are yet to be celebrated in this way. Sadly, nobody has written the story of Simon Stevin, who built a sand-yacht that could outrun a galloping horse as it whipped along the Dutch strand, or of Cornelis Drebbel, who demonstrated a submarine for King James I that mysteriously managed to stay underwater with its crew for several hours in the River Thames.

However, Stella Tillyard has performed this service on behalf of…

The Great Level

By Stella Tillyard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Level as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A 'magical, haunting' (Philippa Gregory) novel of a tragic love affair in a threatened world

In 1649, Jan Brunt, a Dutchman, arrives in England to work on draining and developing the Great Level, an expanse of marsh in the heart of the fen country. It is here he meets Eliza, whose love overturns his ordered vision and whose act of resistance forces him to see the world differently.

Jan flees to the New World, where the spirit of avarice is raging and his skills as an engineer are prized. Then one spring morning a boy delivers a note that prompts…


Tulipmania

By Anne Goldgar,

Book cover of Tulipmania: Money, Honor, and Knowledge in the Dutch Golden Age

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From the list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Who am I?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Discover why each book is one of Hugh's favorite books.

Why did Hugh love this book?

Perhaps no one object was more demonstrative of the Dutch thirst for beauty, novelty and showing-off-but-not-showing-off riches than the tulip. The famous mania for these exotic bulbs, bred to produce ever more exotic flowers and to command ever higher prices, supposedly produced the world’s first economic bubble, which burst spectacularly in February 1637.

The truth is less spectacular (few people were involved in the trade and even fewer were ruined) but, in Goldgar’s skilful telling, much richer and more nuanced than the myth. The episode tells us about the growth of maritime trade and the emergence of the modern financial industry (including the important concept of risk) as well as the cultural interests of Dutch people at this exciting time in their history when the accumulation and subtle display of wealth vied in importance with the quest for aesthetic novelty and genuine curiosity about the natural world. One fashion-conscious doctor…

Tulipmania

By Anne Goldgar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tulipmania as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the 1630s, the Netherlands was gripped by tulipmania: a speculative fever unprecedented in scale and, as popular history would have it, folly. We all know the outline of the story - how otherwise sensible merchants, nobles, and artisans spent all they had (and much that they didn't) on tulip bulbs. We have heard how these bulbs changed hands hundreds of times in a single day, and how some bulbs, sold and resold for thousands of guilders, never even existed. Tulipmania is seen as an example of the gullibility of crowds and the dangers of financial speculation.But it wasn't like…


Think Least of Death

By Steven Nadler,

Book cover of Think Least of Death: Spinoza on How to Live and How to Die

Hugh Aldersey-Williams Author Of Dutch Light

From the list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age.

Who am I?

In my writing about science, I am always keen to include the artistic and literary dimension that links the science to the broader culture. In Huygens, a product of the Dutch Golden Age, I found a biographical subject for whom it would have been quite impossible not to embrace these riches. This context – including painting, music, poetry, mechanics, architecture, gardens, fashion and leisure – is crucial to understanding the life that Huygens led and the breakthroughs he was able to make.

Hugh's book list on understanding the Dutch Golden Age

Discover why each book is one of Hugh's favorite books.

Why did Hugh love this book?

Baruch Spinoza was the philosophical flower of the Dutch Golden Age. Bertrand Russell called him the "noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers", and I am certainly not going to disagree. Like many of the innovators of the Golden Age, his ideas still seem fresh. Expelled from his Jewish community in Amsterdam for his ‘heresies’, we now find his conception of God as nature highly congenial. We probably share his dislike of ritual and perhaps aspire to his renunciation of materialism. His advice neither to fear nor to hope when it concerns things we can do nothing about is as good now as it was when it appeared in his most famous work, Ethics, in 1677.

Spinoza’s philosophy is hard to approach in the original – his arguments are rigorously constructed in the style of ancient Greek mathematics proofs. But Steven Nadler, as well as producing a towering biography…

Think Least of Death

By Steven Nadler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Think Least of Death as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Pulitzer Prize-finalist Steven Nadler, an engaging guide to what Spinoza can teach us about life's big questions

In 1656, after being excommunicated from Amsterdam's Portuguese-Jewish community for "abominable heresies" and "monstrous deeds," the young Baruch Spinoza abandoned his family's import business to dedicate his life to philosophy. He quickly became notorious across Europe for his views on God, the Bible, and miracles, as well as for his uncompromising defense of free thought. Yet the radicalism of Spinoza's views has long obscured that his primary reason for turning to philosophy was to answer one of humanity's most urgent questions: How…


Rembrandt

By Emmanuel Starcky,

Book cover of Rembrandt

Alan Pierce Author Of An Artist's Odyssey: Chasing Ghosts, Masters & The Business of Art

From the list on Maestros of the art world and prisms of thought.

Who am I?

I first started art when I was nine years old, but my art journey really started after seeing the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s work at age 14. This experience changed my life and from there, I continued on with fourteen years of formal art education. The book details my experience and journey as a student, instructor, and professional artist over a thirty-year time period across three continents. I wrote An Artist’s Odyssey to help young artists or artists transitioning into art as a profession to help them avoid the pitfalls of the art world and supplement the necessary business acumen required to make a sustainable career in the art world.

Alan's book list on Maestros of the art world and prisms of thought

Discover why each book is one of Alan's favorite books.

Why did Alan love this book?

Rembrandt is a fascinating journey through Rembrandt’s paintings and also his lesser-known (to the general public) prints. It’s also a chronological roadmap of his works from his early years until his final period.  Watching his progression and the mastery in his latest period was a true learning process of how ‘less’ can be ‘far more.’ In the works displayed in the book, Rembrandt shows his skill at wringing every last bit of functionality out of each color in a very limited palette and also the cornucopia of atmospheric density he played with so masterfully to push and pull the viewers’ eye.  

Rembrandt

By Emmanuel Starcky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rembrandt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Old Scores

By Aaron Elkins,

Book cover of Old Scores

Jennifer S. Alderson Author Of The Lover's Portrait: An Art Mystery

From the list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art.

Who am I?

Europe’s finest masterpieces drew me from Seattle, Washington to the Netherlands, where I earned a master’s degree in art history. During my study, the restitution of artwork that had been looted during WWII was a hot topic, and one that deeply fascinated me. Ultimately, my classes and work for several Dutch cultural institutions inspired me to write my series of art history mysteries.

Jennifer's book list on amateur sleuths searching for lost art

Discover why each book is one of Jennifer's favorite books.

Why did Jennifer love this book?

No list about mysteries involving missing art can exclude Aaron Elkins! He is the author of several art history mystery novels revolving around a museum professional searching for artwork lost during World War II. Old Scores is no exception. This borderline cozy mystery novel is a clever art history mystery about forgeries, the worth and perception of art, and what some will do to 'make it' in the art world. 

Old Scores

By Aaron Elkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Old Scores as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A notorious French art dealer is murdered in this "thoroughly entertaining" mystery by the Edgar Award-winning author of the Gideon Oliver series (Kirkus Reviews).

It is a headline-making story: the discovery of a previously unknown Rembrandt. Rene Vachey, the iconoclastic art dealer who claims to have uncovered it, wants to make a gift of it to the Seattle Art Museum, but curator Chris Norgren is wary. Vachey is notorious in art circles for perpetrating scandalous shams; not for profit but for the sheer fun of embarrassing the elite and snobbish "experts" of the art establishment. And thanks to the web…


Priceless

By Robert K Wittman, John Shiffman,

Book cover of Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World's Stolen Treasures

Trish Esden Author Of The Art Of The Decoy

From the list on mysteries featuring antique dealers, plus a bonus.

Who am I?

I’ve dealt in antiques my entire life to one degree or another. I'm currently a full time antique dealer, after retiring from owning a florist shop that also sold antiques, books, plants, and giftware. My love for dealing antiques is only matched by my passion for writing, museums, and country living. 

Trish's book list on mysteries featuring antique dealers, plus a bonus

Discover why each book is one of Trish's favorite books.

Why did Trish love this book?

I promised a bonus book. Priceless is not part of a series or even fiction.

It’s a nonfiction book that is perfect for anyone who loves reading mystery series featuring antique dealers as main characters. The author is Robert K. Wittman who was the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team. His co-author is John Shiffman who is an award-winning investigative reporter.

I’m not going to say a lot about this book other than that it is fast-paced and fascinating. If you want to take a deep dive into the world of antiques and crime, I highly, highly recommend reading Priceless

Priceless

By Robert K Wittman, John Shiffman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Priceless as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.” The London Times dubbed him “the most famous art detective in the world.”
 
In Priceless, Robert K. Wittman, the founder of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, pulls back the curtain on his remarkable career for the first time, offering a real-life international thriller to rival The Thomas Crown Affair.   
 
Rising from humble roots as the son of an antique dealer, Wittman built a twenty-year career that was nothing short of extraordinary. He went undercover, usually unarmed, to catch art thieves, scammers, and black market traders in Paris and Philadelphia, Rio and…


The Creative Tarot

By Jessa Crispin,

Book cover of The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life

Tania Pryputniewicz Author Of Heart's Compass Tarot

From the list on tarot improvisation for writers and artists.

Who am I?

I’m a poet, tarot muse, and artist whose childhood experiences with vivid night-time dreams and a handful of years on a commune in the cornfields ignited my passion for exploring inner imagery. I read voraciously from science fiction to fairytales to channelings. I discovered tarot in my twenties, using it to read for others, mend my broken heart, and get squared away enough to apply to graduate school for poetry in the heartland at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Ever since, tarot is my favorite mirror for self-reflection. Author of two poetry collections, I wrote a workbook to help others apply the tarot in joyful, healing ways through writing and art.

Tania's book list on tarot improvisation for writers and artists

Discover why each book is one of Tania's favorite books.

Why did Tania love this book?

Jessa Crispin’s Creative Tarot suggests ways to connect to one’s muse through tarot. Crispin’s chapters match each tarot card’s essence to artists, thinkers, philosophers, and writers, looking at challenges and gifts each personality encountered over the course of their lifetime (and how they manifested in detriment or bloom). One of my favorite lines makes tarot card exploration forever relevant: Crispin writes, “It is about retelling the present.” And it is about how to ground tarot energy in specifics: what does it mean to be a King of Cups? Who has lived such an incarnation? Her “living examples” make tarot tangible for my students; I love her specific suggestions for how to explore the energy of each tarot card through music, film, paintings, art, and literature. 

The Creative Tarot

By Jessa Crispin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Creative Tarot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A hip, accessible, and practical guide for artists and creative people looking to tarot for guidance and inspiration in the tradition of The Secret Language of Birthdaysand Steal Like an Artist.

What if the path to creativity was not as challenging as everyone thinks? What if you could find that spark, plot twist, or next project by simply looking at your life and your art through a different lens?

Written for novices and seasoned readers alike, The Creative Tarotis a unique guidebook that reimagines tarot cards and the ways they can boost the creative process. Jessa Crispin guides you through…


The Art of the Heist

By Myles J Connor, Jenny Siler,

Book cover of The Art of the Heist: Confessions of a Master Thief

Robert Pinsky Author Of The Sounds of Poetry: a Brief Guide

From the list on that were composed by ear.

Who am I?

As a poet, my main gift is related to my first ambition, to be a musician. I like to talk, I like to listen, I like the sounds of words and I like to hear (for example) what Emily Dickinson and William Butler Yeats have to say.

Robert's book list on that were composed by ear

Discover why each book is one of Robert's favorite books.

Why did Robert love this book?

Like most calm, ordinary, cautious people, I enjoy movies and books by and about reckless, clever criminals.

Myles Connor, rock star and felon, may or may not know all about, or played a role in, the famous art theft from Boston’s Isabella Gardner museum. He talks an extremely good game.

The Art of the Heist

By Myles J Connor, Jenny Siler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of the Heist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of the most beguiling criminal memoirs ever written. . . . A rare gem of a book.” — T. J. English, New York Times bestselling author of Havana Nocturne

How did the son of a decorated policeman grow up to be one of Boston’s most notorious criminals? How did he survive a decades-long feud with the FBI? How did he escape one jail sentence with a fake gun carved out of soap? How did he trade the return of a famous Rembrandt for early release from another sentence? The Art of the Heist is a roller-coaster ride of a…


Amsterdam

By Russell Shorto,

Book cover of Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

John Rennie Short Author Of The Unequal City

From the list on cities and their power to change lives and attitudes.

Who am I?

I grew up in a small village in a very rural part of Scotland. It was perhaps inevitable, then, that I would have an interest in the urban. Cities, especially big cities, seemed wonderfully exciting when I was growing up, full of mystery and promise, intoxicating, transgressive, with a hint of danger and a whiff of excitement. That fascination has stayed with me throughout my academic career as I have explored different facets of the urban experience. I am aware of the growing inequality but remain optimistic about the progressive possibilities and redemptive power of the urban experience to change lives and attitudes.

John's book list on cities and their power to change lives and attitudes

Discover why each book is one of John's favorite books.

Why did John love this book?

The writer loves Amsterdam that much is clear. He deftly shows how this one city grew from the most unpromising location to become not only a great city in its own right, but also the city where tolerance, markets, and the ideals of liberal tolerant capitalist society were forged and burnished. Our modern liberal cosmopolitanism was created in Amsterdam. We owe a great deal to Amsterdam and its citizens. 

Amsterdam

By Russell Shorto,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Amsterdam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amsterdam is not just any city. Despite its relative size it has stood alongside its larger cousins - Paris, London, Berlin - and has influenced the modern world to a degree that few other cities have. Sweeping across the city's colourful thousand year history, Amsterdam brings the place to life: its sights and smells; its politics and people. Concentrating on two significant periods - the late 1500s to the mid 1600s and then from the Second World War to the present, Russell Shorto's masterful biography looks at Amsterdam's central preoccupations. Just as fin-de-siecle Vienna was the birthplace of psychoanalysis, seventeenth…


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