Thursday, April 18, 2024

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo -- BOOK BEGINNINGS


Thank you for joining me for Book Beginnings on Fridays. Please share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week. You can also share from a book that caught your fancy, even if you are not reading it right now.


One sunny April afternoon in 1990 two Englishman strode up the steps of London's Tate Gallery, passed beneath the imposing statues atop the pediment — Britannia, the lion, and the unicorn — and made their way through the grand portico into one of the world's great museums.

-- from Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. 

I just started this nonfiction book about an elaborate art scam and am completely sucked in. 


Please add the link to your Book Beginnings post in the box below. If you share on social media, please use the #bookbeginnings hashtag.

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The Friday 56 is a natural tie-in with Book Beginnings. The idea is to share a two-sentence teaser from page 56 of your featured book. If you are reading an ebook or audiobook, find your teaser from the 56% mark.

Freda at Freda's Voice started and hosted The Friday 56 for a long, long time. She is taking a break and Anne at My Head is Full of Books has taken on hosting duties in her absence. Please visit Anne's blog and link to your Friday 56 post.


From Provenance
After several more visits to Jane Drew's country home, Drewe began systematically widening his circle of art world acquaintances by dropping her name and inviting members of the establishment to lunch with them. He reserved tables at Claridge's or at L'Escargot in Soho for such eminent Londoners as the former head of the Tate Gallery, Alan Bowness — Ben Nicholson's son-in-law — and the art critic David Sylvester, who had once had his portrait painted by Giacometti.


Filled with extraordinary characters and told at breakneck speed, Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller. But this is most certainly not fiction. It is the astonishing narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate cons in the history of art forgery. Stretching from London to Paris to New York, investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo recount the tale of infamous con man and unforgettable villain John Drewe and his accomplice, the affable artist John Myatt. Together they exploited the archives of British art institutions to irrevocably legitimize the hundreds of pieces they forged, many of which are still considered genuine and hang in prominent museums and private collections today.

Book and Birthdays -- BOOK THOUGHTS


Books and Birthdays

Today is my husband’s birthday so I baked his favorite German chocolate cake! 

I have other birthday plans in the works, but I'm going to take a book break first. I plan to put my feet up for a few minutes with this terrific book, Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by husband and wife writing team Laney Salisbury and Aly Sugo. I've only just started it and am completely sucked in. It’s mesmerizing.

Here’s a bit of baking trivia for you. Every time I make this cake for my husband, I am reminded that “German chocolate cake” has nothing to do with Germany. “German’s Sweet Chocolate” is a type of baking chocolate developed in the US by Samuel German in 1852 for his employer, Baker’s Chocolate.

A newspaper invented the recipe for German chocolate cake in the 1950s. It is a popular cake, mostly because of the coconut pecan frosting. But don’t try to order it in Germany! They don’t know what you are talking about.

I don’t know if German chocolate cake is even a thing outside the US. Is it?

To be honest, this is a "Perfect All American Chocolate Butter Cake" from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Hubby likes any chocolate cake with this frosting (which I make with toasted, unsweetened coconut and toasted walnuts instead of pecans). I find a real German chocolate cake to be a little pale and sweet. I picked this recipe because it isn't difficult and doesn't require the eggs to be separated. I am always put off by having to whip and fold in the egg whites separately.  

And to be even more completely honest, I messed it up. Despite baking chocolate cake for my husband at least a dozen times, not to mention baking in general for about 55 years, I had some kind of brain blip yesterday and put in half the butter! That’s why the layers are so thin. I was ready to start over and make another cake, but Hubby saved me from myself. He said he would like it no matter what, even if it was more like a giant cookie. Fortunately, we tried it this morning and it is good. A little dry, yes, but not bad. The frosting is delicious and saves the cake.

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