Carmen Bambach started copying Mickey Mouse when she was six years old. When she was 12, she would sit for hours copying a Michelangelo drawing or an El Greco painting with a ballpoint pen. When she was 21 and working on her senior thesis at Yale, she discovered the true subject of a Michelangelo drawing that had been mislabeled. That helped to propel her reputation as an outstanding young woman art historian in a field dominated by men.
Bambach, who is now the curator of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the world’s leading specialists on Italian Renaissance art, has organized many acclaimed exhibitions, including “Leonardo da Vinci: Master Draftsman” (2003) and “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” (2017). She honed in further on the former with Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered, an epochal four-volume study published by Yale University Press last summer to rave reviews. The fruit of 24 years of research in museums, libraries, and archives all over the Western world, it was acclaimed as a “landmark by one of the most thorough scholars on the planet.”