It is December 1499, and Leonardo Da Vinci has just finished his masterpiece
The Last Supper. French tourists are clamoring to see the new fresco. Forty-eight-year old Leonardo is a Master and one of the most famous men in Italy. Despite his fame, political problems cause
him to flee Milan for a new home in Florence. One month later, 24-year-old sculptor Michelangelo Buonarroti unveils his statue of the
Pietà in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica. With his masterpiece complete, Michelangelo decides to return to his home in Florence. Is Florence big enough for these two artistic giants?
Huge challenges face the artists in Florence. Leonardo is hired to create an altarpiece for the Church of Santissima Annunziata. When he loses the commission because of delays, he takes on other work: painting the portrait of Lisa Giocondo, a silk merchant’s wife, and directing a major engineering job to divert the Arno River. Leonardo’s painting of Lisa becomes the famous
Mona Lisa. The two artists come into conflict over the commission to sculpt the Duccio Stone. Michelangelo, a sculptor, eventually wins the commission and starts to work on the difficult task of bringing life to a flawed piece of marble. He works on his sculpture of the famous
David for nearly three years. In the end, despite their artistic differences, both Leonardo and Michelangelo produce exceptional masterpieces during their time in Florence.
Stephanie Storey’s studies in fine art and art history at Vanderbilt University helped her to write Oil and Marble, which is subtitled “A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo.” She skillfully weaves together interesting historical and cultural details with art history and political intrigue. Details of the literature, religion, art, and architecture of the period give the text depth. Many Renaissance figures appear as minor characters, including Machiavelli, Botticelli, and Cesare Borgia. Readers will not only enjoy her fast-paced prose but will also appreciate the “Author’s Note” at the end of the novel which links historical facts to the novel’s imagined events.
Although this is her first novel, Storey had an award-winning career as a television producer for shows like
Tavis Smiley on PBS, The Arsenio Hall Show for CBS, and The Writers’ Room for the Sundance Channel. Her degree in Fine Arts from Vanderbilt University as well as her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College have combined to make this imaginary story of Florence’s artistic life from 1501 to 1505 into a fascinating novel. Oil and Marble
is an entertaining and intriguing look into the creativity and work of two