The banded agate bowl known as the Tazza Farnese is one of the most famous and admired objects from classical antiquity. That it has survived at all is a miracle. In this, the first book-length account of the "life" of this renowned masterpiece, art historian Marina Belozerskaya takes readers on a fascinating trip through history that spans two millennia and journeys from the court of Cleopatra to the sack of Constantinople in the Fourth Crusade, from Samarqand of Tamerlane to Renaissance Florence under Lorenzo de' Medici, from Baroque Rome to Enlightenment Naples. Along the way, the reader encounters the illustrious as well as the shady figures who have come into contact with this prized artifact, from emperors and conquerors, popes and princes, and artists like Botticelli and Raphael, to forgers, thieves, and a disgruntled museum guard who nearly destroyed the Tazza for all posterity. Through the prism of this most precious bowl, Medusa's Gaze brings history vividly and intimately to life.
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