The real-life rivalry between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo has nearly been forgotten… until now.
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From 1501—1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-twenties, desperate to make a name for himself.
Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Working against an impossible deadline, he begins his feverish carving.
Meanwhile, Leonardo’s life is falling apart: he loses the hoped-for David commission; he can’t seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market—a merchant’s wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse.
Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo’s genius.
Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive, and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.
“Tremendously entertaining and ‘unapologetic’ in its artistic license, Oil and Marble will remind an older generation of the pleasures of Irving Stone’s art historical fiction, particularly his chronicle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling commission, The Agony and the Ecstasy.” – The New York Times, Sunday Book Review Feb 28th (Full Review Here)
“The artistic process can be one of self-doubt, struggle, and sheer physical exertion, and Storey depicts the drama here with truth and insight. A rewarding read for art aficionados and fans of historical fiction.” — Booklist (Feb 15th issue of Booklist)
“With every chip of the chisel and stroke of the brush, Stephanie Storey fashions a mesmerizing tale of the envy, ambition, and artistic genius that drove an epic rivalry. Oil and Marble will make readers long for Florence and to see David in the morning light.”
–Elizabeth Cobbs, author of Broken Promises: A Civil War Novel, and the upcoming Hamilton Affair
“Vividly evoking the turbulent world and ferociously competitive spirit of Renaissance Florence, Stephanie Storey transports the reader to one of the most creative and exciting moments in the history of that remarkable city.”
–William E. Wallace, Barbara Murphy Bryant Distinguished Professor of Art History at Washington University in St. Louis. Author of Michelangelo: The Artist, the Man and His Times
Stephanie Storey is a writer and art fanatic. She has a degree in Fine Arts from Vanderbilt University and an MFA from Emerson College. She studied art in Italy and went on a pilgrimage to see every Michelangelo on display in Europe. She has been a television producer for 15 years (credits include Tavis Smiley on PBS, The Writers’ Room on Sundance, The Arsenio Hall Show on CBS), producing over 1500 national interviews with world-renowned actors, musicians, politicians, writers and athletes. Oil and Marble is her debut novel. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, an actor and Emmy-winning comedy writer.
Publicist at Arcade Publishing (media queries and publisher requests)
307 W 36th St., 11th Floor, NY, NY 10018
(212) 643-6816 x271
Title: Oil and Marble
Subtitle: A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo
Author: Stephanie Storey
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Imprint: Arcade Publishing
Published: 1 March 2016
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00in
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Nearly Forgotten Rivalry of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Rediscovered
Los Angeles, CA – January 4, 2016 – An upcoming historical novel, Oil and Marble (due out on March 1 from Arcade), explores the nearly forgotten rivalry between Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo that resulted in the simultaneous creation of Mona Lisa and the David.
Art historians acknowledge Leonardo and Michelangelo had a contentious relationship, but academics always focus on the “dueling frescos” commission, when the city of Florence hired the two masters to paint frescos on opposite walls of city hall. Sadly, neither artist completed his fresco. Not a single brushstroke from the project survives.
For centuries, art historians have regretted that this great clash of the titans came to nothing. Imagine, they lament, what wonders those two geniuses might have created if they had only stayed in that room to compete? How sad that the world missed out on such promise.
But did we miss really out?
Don’t governments usually follow trends, not start them? For the government to plan such a contest on such a public stage, Leonardo and Michelangelo’s rivalry must have already been in full force. The historical record tells us the two openly disliked each other long before the dueling frescos debacle. Contemporaries reported that they had contentious run-ins on the streets. Plus, their personalities, family lineage, spiritual beliefs, work ethics, and even appearances were at odds.
But there is even more compelling proof that these two were already well-known antagonists. During the years just prior to the fresco commission, while working side by side in Florence, Michelangelo carved the David, while Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa.
Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Fraser. The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones. Federer vs. Nadal. Mac vs. PC. Great rivalries beget greatness. Seemingly invincible opponents drive us all to grander heights than we could ever reach on our own.
Surely it isn’t a coincidence that the two most iconic works of art in all of western civilization were created in the same town, at the same moment. Are we supposed to believe that these two brilliant, competitive artists did not try to best each other? Isn’t it only logical that the young Michelangelo pushed the aging Leonardo to paint the Mona Lisa, just as Leonardo drove Michelangelo to carve the David?
Oil and Marble is art historical fiction that finally brings this world-changing rivalry to light.
KCPT, PBS in Kansas City
Arts Upload: Oil and Marble
KARK (NBC Affiliate) in Little Rock
New York Times Review of Oil and Marble
Sunday Book Review, February 28, 2016
Central Standard on KCUR 89.3 in Kansas City
Panel Discussion about Leonardo da Vinci and the possibility of a modern day Renaissance Man or Woman
John Fugelsang’s ‘Tell Me Everything’
KBOO Community Radio in Portland. Air Date TBD.
Between the Covers
Tues, March 15. 12:30 PM. NBC 4 in Little Rock
KARK at Noon
Bio Talking Points
- Stephanie Storey has a public school education from the small town of Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is a testament to the public school system and how you don’t have to be from a connected family in a big city to “make it” in Hollywood or the publishing industry
- She studied art in Italy (at the University of Pisa) where her obsession with Michelangelo first took root
- She briefly attended a PhD program in Art History with a focus in Italian Renaissance. Her advisor, one of the top Michelangelo specialists in the world, changed the course of her life and set her on a path toward writing art historical fiction
- She is a veteran TV producer for national talk shows. Her personal interactions with some of the greatest artists of our time (including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dr. Maya Angelou, Prince, Sandra Bullock) taught her about the nature of genius, the struggles of creativity, and the keys to artistic success. She used these lessons to inspire various parts of the novel
- She decided to write the novel after her husband endured a life-threatening hospital stay. Facing her husband’s mortality, she truly understood the brevity of life. If her husband, so young and vital, could come so close to death, we are all vulnerable. It was time to stop producing other people’s dreams and produce her own. She started writing the novel in that hospital room.
- One of the best things she’s ever done to improve her craft of writing was to study acting. Storey is very much an introvert, but she overcame her fears to get up on stage and enter into imaginary worlds with fellow actors. Through this study, she developed a deep empathy and understanding of the human condition that helped her dig deeper into her characters.
- How this epic rivalry was lost to history and how only a fiction writer could uncover it
- Art and the political arena. It’s an election year; visual imagery is an important part of any political campaign. It was the same for Michelangelo, the David and Florence. David was a political statement. Storey (a veteran TV news producer) can discuss how the use of visual imagery was used in Michelangelo’s time — and is still used today
- The importance of competition when reaching for greatness. Leonardo and Michelangelo pushed each other to create masterpieces; without that rivalry they might not have achieved such heights
- Why a female writer feels it is important to write from the POV of male protagonists
- Why people are so obsessed with Mona Lisa — what IS it about that seemingly simple painting…?
- Leonardo’s inventive mind; how he managed to succeed in engineering, art, music, science…
- How we are living in an era that is ripe to create another Michelangelo or Leonardo — in the long course of history, OUR era could very well be seen as the New Renaissance, filled with creative, inventive minds (spurned on by the creation of the internet, just as the Renaissance was driven by the advent of the printing press)
- The balance of historical fact and artistic license. Storey can discuss her views on this historical fiction issue and explain which parts of the novel are historically accurate and where she took artistic license
- What Michelangelo and Leonardo can teach us all about creativity and success
- Taking the reader inside the moment of creation. Storey used extensive historical research, interactions with real-life modern day artists, and her own creative mind to reach into the hearts and minds of Leonardo and Michelangelo as they created their masterpiece
- When did the idea for the novel first occur to you?
- What inspired you to finally sit down and write the novel?
- You’re a female writer. Why write about male protagonists?
- I didn’t know Michelangelo and Leonardo lived at the same time. Why not? How could I have missed that?
- Who do you like better? Michelangelo or Leonardo? Which work do you prefer — Mona Lisa or David?
- Michelangelo and Leonardo are very different people with very different approaches to art. Do you relate more to Michelangelo or Leonardo?
- You were producing five nights a week of television when you wrote the novel. When did you find the time?
- As a talk television producer, you’ve met many famously talented people. Did any of those actors, writers, directors, or musicians inspire moments in the novel?
- How do you make decisions between historical accuracy and artistic license to serve the story?
- David was a political statue. How has art been used throughout history in politics?
- You were a TV news producer for years. Did you see similarities between how the David was used as political tool and art or visual imagery being used in the campaigns today? Do we still use such things?
- Was David a successful piece of political art? How? What can politicians today learn from David to use imagery more effectively?
- Leonardo and Michelangelo were great rivals. Did the competition help them or hurt them?
- What did Michelangelo learn from Leonardo? Vice versa?
- Did the rivalry come from respect for each other’s work or genuine disdain?
- Did either artist ever give the other public credit for their work or acknowledge the other?
- What does the historical record tell us about their real-life relationship?
- Why are we so obsessed with Mona Lisa? Seems like a simple picture…
- How did you approach Lisa in a new way…? How could you see such an iconic painting with fresh eyes?
- You enter, with great empathy, into the hearts and minds of these two artists. How did you make these two iconic, unreachable masters seem so human?
- What has Michelangelo taught you about creativity and success? What can Leonardo teach us about creativity and success?
- You’re from a small town in Arkansas. How did being from a small town affect your life and your path? How did it inform your view of Michelangelo and Leonardo?
- What has television producing taught you about work, writing, and life?
Facebook: Stephanie Storey – Author
(signing contract with Arcade Publishing)
(outline of Oil and Marble on living room floor — preparing to begin first draft)
(finished with manuscript/ready to send it out)