Cynthia Saltzman is the author most recently of Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in May 2021. About Plunder, in The American Scholar, Meryle Secrest recently wrote: "By recounting the long, strange journey of this painting through unsuspected wars, bloodshed, perilous seas, and finally, its close escape from Nazi hands, Saltzman makes one appreciate the beauty of The Wedding Feast at Cana anew. That it still exists is a miracle all by itself. I hope she will keep on looking for new miracles.”
For her work on Plunder, Saltzman received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.
Saltzman’s first book, The Portrait of Dr. Gachet: the Story of a van Gogh Masterpiece (Viking, 1998) was praised by Michiko Kakutani, in the New York Times, as “a unique and fascinating biography: the biography of a painting.” The book, called by The Boston Globe, a “scholarly thriller,” was chosen for a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers award.
Her 2008 book, Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures
was described by the Chicago Tribune as a “lively, knowledgeable chronicle of a three-decade art-buying spree.”
In 2013, she wrote an introduction and selected 200-some letters by van Gogh for Van Gogh Lettere, a volume in the I Millenni series of the Italian publisher, Einaudi. “Many letters from his [van Gogh’s] dense correspondence are less known, and perhaps the task of choosing between all of them has never before been attempted,” wrote Giordano Bruno Guerri, in Il Giornale. “An American scholar, Cynthia Saltzman, has succeeded - with love and a critical spirit - in this magnificent volume-box set.”
Her work has focused on art in the late 19th century—in Europe and America—its creation, acquisition, and migration—its interplay with the economics, politics, and cultural ambitions of that time.
She holds a BA from Harvard University in Fine Arts, an MA from the University of California, at Berkeley, in the History of Art (1975), and an MBA from Stanford University (1977). She lives in Brooklyn, New York.