Books

The Vanishing Man

Laura Cumming

WINNER OF THE JAMES TAIT BLACK BIOGRAPHY PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION

In 1845, a Reading bookseller named John Snare came across the dirt-blackened portrait of a prince at a country house auction. Suspecting that it might be a long-lost Velázquez, he bought the picture and set out to discover its strange history - a quest that led from fame to ruin and exile.

Fusing detection and biography, this book shows how and why great works of art can affect us, even to the point of mania. And on the trail of John Snare, Cumming makes a surprising discovery of her own. But most movingly, The Vanishing Man is an eloquent and passionate homage to the Spanish master Velázquez, bringing us closer to the creation and appreciation of his works than ever before.

Biography

Laura Cumming has been art critic of the Observer since 1999. Previously, she was a presenter of Nightwaves on Radio 3, arts producer for the BBC World Service and arts editor of the New Statesman. Her previous book, A Face to the World: On Self-Portraits, and the accompanying BBC Four documentary, received widespread critical acclaim.