Da Vinci’s Tiger

I received this book as part of a subscription service and wasn’t sure whether I would take to it or not. It isn’t something that I would pick out for myself. But I guess that is the point of these things…

Da Vinci’s Tiger is a story about the relationship between an artist and a muse. We follow Ginevra De Benci, a young married woman who lives in Florence on the edges of high society. She lives at a time where the Medici rule the city and are still at the height of their power, continuing to be patrons of art throughout this powerful city. It is a tale based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s first known portrait which is historically accepted to be Ginevra. When Ginevra is bestowed the great honour of being chosen as a platonic love of a Venetian ambassador, she is flattered and intimidated. He commissions a painting and a sculpture of her, the painter being the one and only Da Vinci.

She displays a fierceness of character and rights and it is lovely to behold, especially seeing the different reactions to her attitude. Elliot really makes play of the only line of Ginevra’s poems that remain in existence today… I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger. Which features all over the cover and blurb. I didn’t anticipate what this line would mean as we went through the novel and now I truly value that we even have that line of poetry left from her. It gives such an insight into the kind of woman she was.

The novel itself was well written and really easy to read. The story is more about her as a woman in that time than about their relationship which I came to adore. Elliot uses the historical evidence we have to help her mold this incredible profile. Admittedly, the majority of it is fiction but it is grounded in more. I’m not sure I fully like the interpretation of Da Vinci as the character but I allow some wiggle room for that, it is impossible to satisfy everyone, especially with such a renowned person.

I recently went to Florence on a trip and learnt a lot about the Medici and the Renaissance, including seeing some of Da Vinci’s work. It was so good to put that knowledge to use and to understand where they were talking about and who, what their stand in history was. I really enjoyed that side of it.

I feel like it really brought to life the time and the people. I enjoyed this book and am really glad that I did give it a chance. I just wish we had more information about her in a historical sense, but as it stands I do believe that the line must truly encapture a woman of great strength and fire. Something that I can really admire and champion. And I do love that line…

I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger.

A lovely read.


Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliot


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