The Vanishing Man

Laura Cumming (Chatto & Windus)

In 1845, a bookseller attending a country house auction bought a dirt-blackened portrait and, convinced that it was a long-lost Velazquez, set out to discover its strange history – a quest that led him from fame to ruin and exile.

Fusing detection and biography, this is a passionate homage to the Spanish master and an investigation into how great works of art can affect us, even to the point of mania.