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Born Under Saturn


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A rare art history classic that The New York Times calls a "delightful, scholarly and gossipy romp through the character and conduct of artists from antiquity to the French Revolution."

About the Author

Margot Wittkower (1902-1995) was born in Berlin and established herself as an interior designer. After moving to London with her husband, she became an expert on neo-Palladian architecture. She collaborated on a number of books with her husband, including Born Under Saturn and The Divine Michelangelo. Rudolf Wittkower (1901-1971) was a German-American art historian. He was on the staff of the Warburg Institute, London, and became professor at the University of London. He then headed the Department of Fine Arts and Archaeology at Columbia.


"The Wittkowers' entertaining and micro-informed study dissects the pervasive image of the moody, alienated artist. Cautious and provocative, presuming to balance theory and anecdote by happily indulging the latter, Born Under Saturn reads like Vasari's Lives of the Artists rewritten as an appendix to Burton--a colorful tour of eccentricity and genius, populated by all manner of rogues, gentlemen, pennypinchers, hypochondriacs, and enduring masters. Every page has a diverting tale, and the cumulative effect sets the reader's mind reeling." --Modern Painters

"[The authors] have had a wonderful time and so should the reader...Their feat is impressive enough as it stands in this giant popcorn-ball of a book, where surely all the anecdotes and existing documents about artists over a period of some 2,000 years have been stuck together with the syrup of scholarship...into a mass at once unusual, tasty and nourishing...Born Under Saturn is good reading..."-John Canaday, The New York Times Book Review

"Artists are just like people, only more so is the implied conclusion of this delightful, scholarly and gossipy romp through the character and conduct of artists from antiquity to the French Revolution."-The New York Times (Review of Notable Books of the Year, 1963)

"The Wittkowers...have filled this authoritative contribution to the understanding of creative man with dozens of good stories about great artists and freaks, fools and men of destiny...The blatant, the incomparable, the boorish, the bland and the bizarre pass under review here in an enormously interesting parade."-Charles Poore, The New York Times

"[F]ascinating to read because of the abundant quotations which bring to life so many remarkable individuals"-The New York Review of Books

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