Leonardo’s Holy Child—a Memoir of Discovery

An artist, art historian, and dealer chronicles his discovery of the first drawing by Leonardo da Vinci to be uncovered in more than a century—as well as other adventures from this “art explorer.”

"Leonardo’s Holy Child” can be appreciated on several levels. It is memoir, as the author recites the love story of himself and his wife, Jann, who was found, lost, found and cherished and, now, lost forever. It is a window into the world in which artworks are identified, verified, marketed, sold and donated. It is also history, when Kline tells the background of his subjects and how they emerged from and reflect the cultures of their origins. Finally, it is a series of well written stories that entertain, educate and tug on our emotions. It is an excellent read for a broad swath of humanity." www.barnesandnoble.com

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Fred R. Kline, art historian and author of "Leonardo's Holy Child - The Discovery of a Leonardo Da Vinci Masterpiece: A Connoisseur's Search for Lost Art in America." Produced by KENW.


Kline can proudly point to a long list of his fantastic finds, from small shops to great auction houses. Here, he begins with two miracles. The first was rediscovering his previous love more than 20 years later. The second was a drawing that he proved to be authored by Baldassare Peruzzi, which they eventually sold to Christie’s for $66,000. The biggest story, however, was the holy child drawing he spotted in a Christie’s catalog, attributed to Annibale Carracci, that he bought for $1,700. The author’s eidetic memory is his greatest asset, and he spotted what he was sure was a da Vinci. His exhaustive detective work included testing the paper, the timing of the artist’s use of sfumato and red chalk, and the discovery of da Vinci’s sepia ink outlining. These and other insights backed up his assurance that this particular holy child was the model for da Vinci’s Benois Madonna and Madonna of the Carnation. That coup is enough to make a great story for any mystery or art history lover, but Kline does this for a living. He spots a work, buys it, and begins his research while investing in restoration to expose clues. One restorer, beginning to clean a work, erased the signature, sending the author into apoplexy. However, it turned out that the signature was false, added later. Further triumphs included the author’s $100 purchase of La Virgencita del Nuevo Mundo, a 16th-century stone statue from Mexico that proved to be “a first Virgin Mary of the Americas, a first new deity of the New World. She symbolized the first Indians baptized into a transformed Christianity.” The author narrates these and other adventures in art with aplomb.


Kline has a sharp eye, excellent memory, and top-notch research skills, creating a book that any art lover will love.