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Top 5 Books for History of Art Nerds

As I myself am a student of Art History and can be massively nerdy when it comes to the topic, loved these books and hope you fellow historical lovers will too.

1) Lust for Life, Kirk Douglas

For any Van Gogh fans this book is a must read. Kirk Douglas eloquently weaves a tale about the life of the great painter and captures the Netherlands, France and the painful hardships that marked his life. Full of extreme ups and downs this book will leave you with a whole new appreciation of Van Gogh’s seemingly innocent Sunflowers.

2) An Englishman in Madrid, Eduardo Mendoz

Lovers of Spanish Baroque and Spanish Civil War historians gather round! An Englishman in Madrid is a compelling fictional work set in the backdrop of the Civil War. When Anthony Whitelands, Velazquez expert, is called to Madrid to appraise a rich Duke’s collection he is thrown into the midst of the mystery that shrouds the painting. This is a book filled with the perfect amounts of history, tension, and English buffoonery.

3) The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt

A horrible accident that leaves Theo Decker scarred, a stolen Carel Fabritius painting and dark secrets. This book, although very long, is certainly worth the read for Tartt’s immersive descriptions that plunge you into the underworld of the New York art scene.

4) The Alchemist, Paolo Coelho

Full of wondrous simplicity, The Alchemist is an inspirational novel of discovery. When Andalusian shepherd boy, Santiago, sets off to Egypt in search of a treasure in the great Pyramids he meets curious characters and obstacles on the way. If you are a fan of ancient art this book is worth a look at.

5) Girl with the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier

A classic story, nearly as mysterious as the Mona Lisa, Girl with the Pearl Earring, this story is told by 16-year-old narrator Griet and focuses on Johannes Vermeer’s stunning ability to capture the everyday domestic setting of 17th century Dutch families.


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