Top critical review
Completely misleading from historical perspective.
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2018
I understand the need of historical fiction writers to take creative license in their works, but the way in which Oil and Marble recounts the lives of Leonardo and Michelangelo is not a “historical fiction,” it is a “fictional history.”
For example, the author, Stephanie Storey, portrays Michelangelo as an unknown (almost naive), aspiring artist when he sculpted “La Pieta,” in Rome. In actuality, at that time, he was already recognized as a genial sculptor, and one of the most prominent artists in Florence.
Also, the book suggests long-lived animosity between Michelangelo, and his father (as well as his family), as a result of his desire to be an artist. The reality is that, initially, his family opposed Michelangelo’s desire to become a painter and sculptor. Eventually, however, they accepted his powerful artistic drive. In fact, it was his own father who placed Michelangelo as an intern, at age 13, under the tutelage of Ghirlandaio; a highly reknowned Florentine artist. Hence, the endless pages claiming a lifetime of abuse and rejection endured by Michelangelo at the hands of his family do not make sense, whatsoever, and are unbearable to read.
Likewise, Michelangelo did not always live as a destitute artist before he sculpted the David, as the author suggests. In fact, Michelangelo was adopted by Lorenzo de’ Medici, at around 16 years of age. Thus, he lived as royalty for the next four years until the death of Lorenzo.
Equally misleading is the author’s narrative of an episode about a snow statue. According to Giorgio Vasari, Michelangelo’s biographer, he created a snow statue for Piero de’ Medici. Reportedly, however, the statue inspired admiration and awe, rather than ridicule and derision, as Storey incorrectly depicted. And, unlike she stated, this was absolutely not the reason he departed from Florence.
In the same vein, there are a number of inaccuracies related to Leonardo.
Storey indicates that “Oil and Marble is based on twenty years of research and grounded in real history...,” but she grossly misrepresents facts, and botches Italian words and phrases.
She also states, “I have taken artistic license to tell the story of these two characters who have lived in my imagination for over two decades.”
In summary, if you want to read about characters imagined by the author, you will be fine; but, do not rely on this book to learn about the real history of Leonardo and Michelangelo, including their lives, interactions, motivations, etc. Pure BS.