Remaining line of Ginevra’s painting: I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger.
What inspired Da Vinci’s Tiger: The painting of Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo da Vinci. This painting was Leonardo’s first portrait, and it was the first Italian portrait to have a women facing forward.
What is Da Vinci’s Tiger about: A fictional recreation of how Ginevra de’ Benci painting came to be! With the arrival of Bernardo Bembo, a Venetian ambassador, Ginevra’s life drastically changes. Gone are the days where she’s used as a pawn for somebody else’s agenda. She gets to carve out who she is when she finds herself in the company of the powerful Medici family, and attracts the attention of the Ambassador as well as rising Italian Renaissance painters like Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Verrocchio. Bembo commissions a portrait of Ginevra from Leonardo, and this book shows how it happens. This is Ginevra de’ Benci’s time to shine!
Who is Ginevra de’ Benci: She’s creative, educated, and from a family of bankers with the Medici family. She was sixteen years old when she married someone twice her age from an insignificant family. She became Venetian ambassador Bernardo Bembo, who became his Platonic love and commissioned a painting and poems to her. In the book, Ginevra is very interested in the Renaissance art movement, and you see her become welcomed into the folds. It’s all about her transformation, and readers get to see the young woman she becomes from the many influences in her life.
Familiar historical figures: young Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, The Medici’s (Lorenzo & Guiliano), Andrea del Verrocchio, Bernardo Bembo, and so much more!
Time period: 15th century Florence, Italy.
Art mentioned: Other than Ginevra de’ Benci, Madonna of the Carnation, sculptures of Marsyas, and many more were mentioned.
Genre: It’s a fictional YA that reads almost like it’s a history book about the creation of Ginevra de’ Benci.
Research, research : You can tell how much research L.M. Elliott put into this book; you see it in the details in the writing about all the people, the Florentine setting, and the art. It’s a subject that shows Elliott’s passion for it, but sometimes the research becomes too much; it starts to feel a history book that you’d read in class. It doesn’t read like Ginerva is actually experiencing these event. Research is awesome and all, but not when the characters don’t have the spark in them to tell the story a justice. There was no emotional connection whatsoever.
My issues with the story:
The plot wasn’t very exciting. There was a lot of jousting, dinners, horse talks, flowery words, and painting. Sure, they can be exciting, but not when the characters don’t seem emotionally invested in what they’re saying or doing. The plot also didn’t have a lot of parts where you’re sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for some messed up or exciting things to happen.
I didn’t care for the characters because none of them were developed exceptionally well. It was like Elliott wanted to preserve the historical figures and didn’t want to disrupt their image too much, but I wanted her to take creative license to it! The portrayal is all fictional anyways! Do something more with it! Or else they’re just very flat people, which is what the characters in Da Vinci’s Tiger are.
Why should you read this? Because art! Leonardo da Vinci! Political rivalries! Well-researched history! Extremely well-written! Go for it!