The first time I visited Venice as a wide-eyed teenager, I knew I was supposed to go home with Murano glass, but I had no idea why.
So, I began a lifelong study of art history.
Working as an art historian involves three things: teaching, researching, and writing. Doing art historical research is a passion for me, and I also love being in the classroom and sharing the history of art with my students. Writing for scholarly journals takes years of training and discipline. I have great respect for the craftsmanship of academic writing and for those who practice it.
But after writing within the conventions of academic scholarship for some years, I felt like I was going to burst!
Turns out, I was doing it all wrong…
One day I found myself yawning in the audience of a scholarly conference, and I realized that there was something fundamentally wrong. After all, the history of art is the most fascinating topic in the world! Why do we scholars insist on making it dull and inaccessible? I realized then that, not only did I see an opportunity, I felt called to share the excitement of art history with a broader audience through my writing and teaching.
Over time, I began to make up answers to all the research questions in my head. And when I finally turned to writing historical fiction based on true stories of art history, that’s when I finally found my place in the world.
My mission is to EDUCATE, ENTERTAIN, and INSPIRE with the stories of art history, both real and imagined.
Art history is really about stories and people. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction. Other times, stories, or pieces of stories, are lost to history. And for me, that’s where imagination takes over, and fiction begins.
Where would you like to go next?
A Little About Me…
- Earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University
- Combined my intellectual passions at Yale with a Mellon Doctoral Fellowship in art history and a Bass Fellowship for writing in the humanities
- Am a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling historical novelist, with book club picks at Target, Costco, Veranda Magazine, and Hudson News
- Taught college students across the U.S. and in Italy, have produced art history lessons for TED-Ed, and now teach exclusively online in my Art History Academy
- Have been a regular contributer to National Geographic Traveler, Italy Magazine, Departures, and other media
Have earned awards for my historical fiction (an IPPY, Eric Hoffer Award, Da Vinci Eye Prize, National Indie Excellence, Benjamin Franklin, Writer’s Digest, others), as well as starred reviews and editor’s picks in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the Historical Novels Review
- Have had the privilege to live and work in five countries
- Have enriched the experiences of many travelers over two decades with my Authentic Arts shopping guidebook series
- Enjoy my home on the coast of Georgia, my husband, 2 sons and 2 daughters, and our large, boisterous extended family. Make a mean risotto. Love to pet all fur babies, but have a weak spot for flat-faced dogs and fluffy cats
MY WORK HAS BEEN FEATURED IN
Will be visiting soon and need a guide, can you assist?
I do not personally guide tours but can give you a few leads if you email me at laura @ lauramorelli.com. Have fun in Venice!
Hi Laura, I’m visiting to tape 13 cooking show segments, would you like to join us there?
Larry, sounds like a fun project! When do you plan to be in Venice? –Laura
I always wanted to study art history. I think it’s such a nice way to learn about the world.
I am reading The Gondola Maker, thanks to Kathy McCabe. Love it! You mention there is no surviving gondola prior to 1850’s, & I was wondering if the gondola exhibited in Ca’ Rezzonico is perhaps older, as it is a museum devoted to 18th century Venice.
Looking forward to your next book!
Hi Toby! Many thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read The Gondola Maker! You are absolutely correct that the Ca’ Rezzonico is Venice’s museum of the 18th century. However, the gondola displayed on its ground floor actually dates to the 19th century: http://www.carezzonico.visitmuve.it. What I love about the gondola in the Ca’ Rezzonico is that it still retains its felze, the covered passenger compartment that was an integral part of Venetian gondolas up until about the 1940s, when tourism in Venice made riding in a convertible gondola more desirable and convenient. One of the oldest gondolas surviving today is actually in the United States, in the collection of the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia. You can read more about it here: https://lauramorelli.com/2014/08/28/a-venetian-gondola-in-america/. Unfortunately its original felze is no longer displayed with the craft.
Thank you for replying and explaing about the Ca’Rezzonico gondola!
I would like to see the gondola in Newport News.
Meanwhile, i do hope you write another historical novel set in Italy!
I’ll be waiting!
Thank you very much, Toby! I’m glad you enjoyed The Gondola Maker! I have a series of travel guides to authentic arts in Italy appearing in the coming months, then I will be turning back to art historical fiction… Thank you again for reading! –Laura
Hie Laura . I see you showed interest on Lupane Women’s Centre,where there is a group of 400 rural weavers with a majority being women. I need assistance in promoting their work.
[…] you a fan of author Laura Morelli? She has a long history of writing for National Geographic Traveler and has written a guidebook […]
Good morning from Down Under. I recently read an interesting article about Romano Vio, a Venetian artist, who sculpted the replacement statue of George Washington, when the original (by Canova) was destroyed by fire. (This was for the State House of North Carolina.)
Roman Vio’s son and grandsons still live in Venice and carry on the family artistic tradition. It struck me that there could be a kernel of a story here, for an art historian such as you! I can introduce you to Giovanni (a grandson) if you are at all interested. If nothing else, you will meet another interesting, passionate Venetian.
Thank you for taking the time to write! What an interesting story. Feel free to email me directly at laura @ lauramorelli.com with the introduction.
How do I obtain me copy of Artisans in Paris? Lost in underworld somewhere.
Hi Lee, sorry to hear you’re having trouble! Your email keeps bouncing when we try to email you directly or via our mailing list provider. Do you have another email address you can use? You can email me directly at [email protected]. We’ll make sure you get your book! Thank you, Laura
Laura,( Question): Like to know if the 6 coats of Paint used to paint the Gondolas Is a Marine enamel or a Black Lacquer and if it’s sprayed or brushed and or sanded between coats ? Thank you,
Hi Andrew, As far as I know, it’s a particular kind of lacquer that historically was a closely guarded secret family recipe. I believe they brush it on and sand between coats. Hope that helps! –Laura
Hello, I am Linda Morelli; my husband Joseph Morelli. I am so pleased to have come across your website. My husband and I are looking forward to our trip in Italy. I am thoroughly enjoying your blog.
Thank you so much, Linda. Nice to meet you! 🙂
What is your favorite thing about Italy?
Hi Juliet, wow, that’s a really hard question–LOL! I think what I love best is that Italy is a delight for the senses!
How about you?
Hi Laura my name is Dennis Morelli and I am researching my family history in Italy. My family is from Calabria. Where is your family from in Italy?
Hi Dennis! Maybe we are related. Who knows? My understanding is that Morelli is a pretty common name in many different regions of Italy. Our Morelli family came from Abruzzo. Happy researching! —Laura
I am also Dennis Morelli. My grandparents Dominic Morelli and Angela Cassini were from Abruzzo. They came to Canada in the early 1900’s. There is still family living there. What are the names of your Morelli grandparents?
Hi Dennis, we also have family from Abruzzo! –Laura
Laura, I also have a passion for Art History, Europe, and reading. I just learned about you and your books today….on Face Book! I am so excited to start reading your books. Unfortunately I cannot purchase now because we are in the midst of an interstate move. My husband says, “No more books!” But I am keeping your information close and will catch up later in the summer.
Thank you for your talent and hard work in creation of these novels.
Finally something interesting in internet! I just bought a property in Tuscany (Zancona), I will love to have more information about the history of my place.
Hello Laura. When will The Giant be released in Europe? I just read The Gonolda Maker and The Painter’s Apprentice. Can’t wait to read your next book. Please stay safe. Looking forward to your reply. Maryse from Belgium
Hi Maryse, thank you so much! THE GIANT releases May 31 around the world and you can find more information here: https://lauramorelli.com/giant
I have been to Venice four times, on my own, wide eyed, just walking. I’d planned two weeks in Venice this October but cancelled due to virus.
Now, I’m studying so when I return this time, I shall be EDUCATED. I’m now planning four weeks. Previously took mosaic classes in Ravenna then stayed
at the glass factory in Carnagio.
Hi Betty! I hope you get back to Italy soon! Would love to hear more about your mosaic classes in Ravenna! –Laura
I just saw a Facebook post on my phone about buying your book at Target and then being able to watch a lecture by you. I want to do that so I went to my laptop to buy the book but can’t find the post now. Looked for it on my phone again but can’t locate it. Do you have a link for this?
Hi Karen, check out https://lauramorelli.com/NightPortrait. Enjoy!
Hello, Ms. Morelli,
I have just started The Night Portrait and am definitely hooked on reading it. However, I was surprised that Dominic in his eponymous chapter is from Greensburg, PA, the small town I grew up in from age 3. I left after graduating from Duquesne University and have lived in Pittsburgh for all but 4 years of my life. I am just interested to know why you choose Greensburg for Dominic’s hometown. I shall comment again once I finish this interesting novel.
I watched your Zoom presentation yesterday for Adventures by the Book and loved hearing about your new novel The Night Portrait (coming in the mail to me soon). I’m intrigued by your idea to bring together two time periods through Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Lady with an Ermine.
I’m also an art historian and have just written my first novel The Art of Traveling Strangers which should be released next year. I so agree with you about art history! It’s all about the stories. ~Zoe
Thank you so much, Zoe! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the presentation. Good luck with your writing! –Laura
Just completed The Painter’s Apprentice. You have certainly succeeded in your goal “to educate, entertain and inspire.” I loved the depth in Maria’s character and was so upset to think she’d be behind convent walls. Kept hoping somehow she would re-unite with Cristiano as he was nover reported dead. Loved all the intricate details of making the altar pieces and the gold box and that painter was so kindly and that connection was not broken. You combine history with great emotion and involve with your characters. First came across The Night Portrait mailed to me by Historical Novel Society review – you had me! Then to hear you interview with my favorfite author Jennifer Robson – a treat. I’m trying to save The Giant for the dead of winter but it’s calling out to me. More stories about Florence please and maybe Boticelli.
Thank you so much, Gail! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the story.
My wife and I were turned on to your work by Tuscany Tours, the company we travel to Italy with. We first read The Giant. We really appreciated it given that we have been to the Uffici on two trips to Italy. You have a real talent for story telling; capturing the intrigue and the tenor of the times. Your characters come to life and you put your readers into the picture just as if they were in the box while Michelangelo was sculpting the David. We just completed The Night Portrait and The Painters Apprentice. The former is an exceptional piece of work. I couldn’t put it down. We’re looking forward to reading The Gondola Maker. We’ve been to Venice also. BTW, my mother is a Morelli. But we are from Caserta, although I have recently found that we have some Roman blood.
Thank you so much, John! I’m thrilled you enjoyed these stories.
I finished reading “The Night Portrait” a few days ago. I Loved the book and appreciated learning about the Monuments men and especially enjoyed your characterizations of Leonardo and Cecilia. After finishing that book, I requested my library purchase the ebook of “The Gondola Maker”. Today I got a notice that I could download the book, so am looking forward to reading it. I have also request the ebook version of your other books.
My family and I were luck enough to travel to Europe in summer of 2019. We visited Pisa, Cinque Terre, Florence and Venice during out trip. In Venice, we stayed in Dorsoduro area and I believe we saw a small gondola repair shop there. We were enchanted with Italy. I planned out trip and wish I had know about your “Made in ” series before our trip. I hope to read them and take another trip when the world is open again!!
Just today, I shipped one of my drawings to a group art exhibition that will take place in Venice at the Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello from December 18, 2020-Januaary 15, 2021. Unfortunately, I can be there with COVID restrictions. Will see if the show goes forward…
Looking forward to reading more from you!!
Funny how the universe makes these connections for us.
Thank you so much, Liz! I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed my work.
I would like to know why you titled your book The Night Portrait. To what does “night”refer? Darkness of WW2? I absolutely loved this book and have recommended it to several people.
Thank you for asking! Jenny Bent, my literary agent, suggested The Night Portrait as a title that would make readers say, “Ooo! What’s that about?” It refers to the painting being moved around often out of view or in the darkness, and I think it also encapsulates the dark side of World War II art theft. I hope that helps. Thank you for reading! –Laura
Am just finishing Night Portrait. As a fellow academic, I am fascinated by what we find to do with all those left-over pieces of information we have in our heads after doing what we do as teachers, researchers and writers. My first encounter with this genre was Umberto Eco, Faucault’s Pendalum. (2007). Patrice and I were leaving Florence for the long train ride to Zermatt, so I needed something long to read, and found it in the station bookstore. What a delightful discovery. I kept hearing the voice in my head say: I knew that, but look how cleverly Eco wove that piece of information into his novel. What drew me to your Night Portrait was having read Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci (2018). You have helped me realize that whether the chaos is a world war or the failed state here in the US during 2020, art endures, good people exist, and there is hope. Thank you.
Thank you so much! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed THE NIGHT PORTRAIT. I too am a big fan of Eco’s work and also loved FOUCAULT’S PENDULUM. Thanks again! –Laura
correct spelling: Foucault’s Pendulum. (2007). UGH!
Thank you for the Free short story. My sister in law’s maiden name is Morelli..I will send her your info…and I will let my friends know of you..and they should read your books. I have visited Italia a few times and have the documented ancestry of my four grandparents..who were born in Italia.
Thank you, Nancy! 🙂
Just finished The Night Portrait and loved it! Thank you for a wonderful story and rekindling my love of art history! Trying to locate a copy of The Giant in kindle or print form and several of my local libraries do not have it. Very disappointed. Requested they purchase but will have to wait and see. Any suggestions?
Hi Rita! Thank you so much for reading my books. You can find THE GIANT on my web site (click SHOP in the upper right). It’s available on all the online retailers, including Amazon. Your local library and bookstores should also be able to order the print and ebook versions. Thank you again and happy reading! –Laura
John Coleraine Northern Ireland.
Are you any connection to the Morelli’s in Portstewart, Northern Ireland.
Family is originally from Italy and still have family in Italy.
Hi John, Not that I’m aware of, but you never know! 🙂
Hi, Laura. I am a music historian (PhD at NYU) with a dissertation devoted to the great madrigalist Luca Marenzio (ca 1553–1599). I spent a year in Italy doing archival research, mostly in Modena , but also in Ferrara, Mantova, Firenze, and Roma, plus a great deal of touring throughout northern Italy (we didn’t get below Ravello). We lived in Parma, because my wife was doing research on yeast genetics at l”Istituto di Genetica of the university there, and we also had a year-old son with us! I’ve been back for further research in 1974 and 1976, but it hs been WAY too long for anything other than a short (week or two-week) visit in the ensuing years.
While in Italy, I couldn’t help absorbing a lot of art, of course, and though I’m in no sense a scholar of Italian art, I very much enjoyed becoming a docent at the Worcester (MA) Art Museum when we lived there. And I love reading historical novels set in Italy. So far I’ve read Clare Colvin’s Masque of the Gonzagas (about the composer Monteverdi) and Barbar Quick’s Vivaldi’s Virgins, about the extraordinary women’s ensemble that he directed in Venice. I ju;st downloaded your short story about the plague, and I’m sure I will read your novels soon, and with great pleasure.
Hello Laura, just finished attending your Zoom program with Natasha Lester. What a wonderful program you ladies presented. I can not wait to purchase The Night Portrait! Sounds fascinating. Thank you.
So glad you enjoyed it, Chris! Thank you!! 🙂
Just finished reading “The Night Portrait”.
Thank you! It was meaningful, magical and mesmerizing.
Night Portrait held my interest throughout. My wife and I were lucky enough to see Leonardo’s Lady with an Ermine in Krakow in June of this year, 2022. The museum itself was understated and Cecilia Gallerani was in her own darkened room a solo light on her. The beauty of the woman and the beauty of the artist mingling. I bought a print of her and began reading about her history. Then I read your Night Portrait. It blew me away .
I was totally a naive Anerucan thinking, wow, the Lady was painted in 1495 or so and has been probably hanging in the Czartoryski palace since then, etc. To learn that she has only been on public display since, what, 2017, in a totally renovated museum and was stolen by the Nazis. Then what a tortured history she had, hidden by the Nazis, carried across countries, wrapped in tarps in secret rooms, and even hung in the office of the supreme Nazi commander in Poland, Governor Frank and over his radiator yet!
You give an illuminating account of Leonardo at work, his thoughts about how to position Cecilia and how they settled on an ermine rather than a dog. And then, in one of your other story strands, how the Allied soldiers and Monuments men stumbled into the horrific Seigen copper mine to find these desperate Polish citizens hiding out and the gilded paintings that burst in a blaze of sun and hope. That experience must have been overwhelming.
And then, on another strand of modern reality this time, very similar tragedies in the lives of Ukrainians under the great Russian oppression.
Thank you so much for reading! I am sincerely grateful. –Laura
The story of your personal journey is most interesting. I hope to see you on the zoom meeting and maybe will have read one of your books by then. All the best
Thank you, Phil! 🙂
Dear Laura, I recently got to see in person the church doors my great great grandfather made for the church in Besano Italy in 1885. He was a blacksmith and they are metal. But I have not been able to find resources on just how they would have been made. Perhaps the wax method but wonder if you have any sources. I can also send you a photo. Thank you
Hi Laura, I am enjoying your book The Giant. I hope to read all your books. Buona Pasqua!