The Lost Painting
An Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.The artist was Caravaggio, a master of the Italian Baroque. He was a genius, a revolutionary painter, and a man beset by personal demons. Four hundred years ago, he drank and brawled in the taverns and streets of Rome, moving from one rooming house to another, constantly in and out of jail, all the while painting works of transcendent emotional and visual power. He rose from obscurity to fame and wealth, but success didn't alter his violent temperament. His rage finally led him to commit murder, forcing him to flee Rome a hunted man. He died young, alone, and under strange circumstances.Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today. Many others -- no one knows the precise number -- have been lost to time. Somewhere, surely, a masterpiece lies forgotten in a storeroom, or in a small parish church, or hanging above a fireplace, mistaken for a mere copy.Jonathan Harr embarks on a journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christ -- its mysterious fate and the circumstances of its disappearance have captivated Caravaggio devotees for years. After Francesca Cappelletti stumbles across a clue in that dusty archive, she tracks the painting across a continent and hundreds of years of history. But it is not until she meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland, that she finally manages to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle.

The Lost Painting Details

TitleThe Lost Painting
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseNov 7th, 2006
PublisherRandom House Trade Paperbacks
ISBN-139780375759864
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Art, History, Art History, Mystery, Cultural, Italy, Historical, Biography, Audiobook, Ireland

The Lost Painting Review

  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Absurdly readable, this book is candy for anyone who loves or appreciates the scavenger hunt of archival historical research. If you are particularly into Italian history, this book is the equivalent of a snickers bar perfectly cooled in the refrigerator.If you feel meh about the tedious, meticulous process of historical research, despite its finally coming together in spectacularly satisfying ways, you will really really really not like this book. I mean, seriously, don't bother. Because that i Absurdly readable, this book is candy for anyone who loves or appreciates the scavenger hunt of archival historical research. If you are particularly into Italian history, this book is the equivalent of a snickers bar perfectly cooled in the refrigerator.If you feel meh about the tedious, meticulous process of historical research, despite its finally coming together in spectacularly satisfying ways, you will really really really not like this book. I mean, seriously, don't bother. Because that is not only the book's subject, it is its essence. It's the only thing on the menu.The Lost Painting is a nonfiction retelling of the rather miraculous discovery of a Lost Caravaggio painting in the early 1990s. The book is written in a spare, fast-paced, no-nonsense prose that I found a bit jarring at first, but by the end of the book, I had come to appreciate it. Harr's book is essentially a fun-to-read 260 page police report or newspaper article. I think Harr smartly recognized that the story itself is so fabulous FOR RESEARCH LOVERS that it needed no embellishment FOR RESEARCH LOVERS.If I haven't made myself clear yet, unless you like history, research, art, Europe, and/or scavenger hunts, please don't read this book. If you are cool and recognize the genius of above said things, then read it.
    more
  • Ron Palmer
    January 1, 1970
    It's like The DaVinci Code, only well-written and true! In other words, it's nothing like the DaVinci Code. Harr personalizes the dry world of academic art historians as best he can, by following the principals in this story of a 'lost' Carravaggio recently-found in Ireland. I cannot go so far as to say he 'spices it up,' so the appeal of this book may be limited to art lovers only.
    more
  • Tom
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! It's been so long since I have read a book that dominated my thoughts for a couple of days; a book that I thought was amazing. Luckily for me I just read The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. Jonathan Harr is mostly known for writing A Civil Action, which I enjoyed, but didn't find that it left me breathless the way that The Lost Painting did. The painting referred to in the title is The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. Until the early 90s copies of the painting had been found, but the origina Wow! It's been so long since I have read a book that dominated my thoughts for a couple of days; a book that I thought was amazing. Luckily for me I just read The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. Jonathan Harr is mostly known for writing A Civil Action, which I enjoyed, but didn't find that it left me breathless the way that The Lost Painting did. The painting referred to in the title is The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. Until the early 90s copies of the painting had been found, but the original painting had disappeared. Had it been destroyed, or was it lying in an attic somewhere, forgotten? The book follows several people, the octagenerian pre-eminent Caravvaggio scholar in the world, an obscure italian art restorer living in the artistic hinterland of Ireland, and a Roman graduate student in art history. Their lives eventually intertwine, but are separate for most of the narrative. The story really gets going with the graduate student, Francesca, looking for evidence about a different Caravaggio painting in a dark and moldy forgotten archive in Italy. She does find what she is looking for, but also finds previously unknown evidence about the Taking of Christ, that sets her to following the trail of the painting across Europe.This incredible story is only made more amazing by the fact that it is true. It feels like a detective story, and Harr writes it to be an entertaining narrative. I have to say that I have little to no interest in the religious paintings of the European masters, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment of this book in any way. Ultimately, anyone who is passionate about anything will enjoy The Lost Painting. A Caravaggio might not move me to tears and drop me to my knees, but the love of art and the inspiration the lead characters derive from it comes through loud and clear. Despite my fairly neutral feelings towards European art, as I read the book, I really understood what it meant to these people to find one of the world's great lost treasures. Anyone who has ever discovered anything that has moved them will be captivated as they read this. The Lost Painting is the best book I have read in a couple of years.
    more
  • Petra
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoy a book set in the art world. I like the mystery, the sleuthing, the restorations and the thrill of finding masterpieces that have lain hidden for hundreds of years. This is an account based on the finding of a lost Caravaggio painting, The Taking Of Christ. I looked the painting up and was amazed at the reality and detail of it. It could be a photograph. If I could live another life, I'd love to be an art world sleuth, digging through the layers to find and restore the beauty of t I really enjoy a book set in the art world. I like the mystery, the sleuthing, the restorations and the thrill of finding masterpieces that have lain hidden for hundreds of years. This is an account based on the finding of a lost Caravaggio painting, The Taking Of Christ. I looked the painting up and was amazed at the reality and detail of it. It could be a photograph. If I could live another life, I'd love to be an art world sleuth, digging through the layers to find and restore the beauty of the original. I listened to this on audio and thoroughly enjoyed it.
    more
  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    I haven’t read A Civil Action, and quite frankly after reading this book I never want to read anything by Harr.1. I don’t care that Francesca answered the phone wearing a towel and with wet hair. I don’t care about her thighs. Why do you keep telling me these things?2. Why is so much space give to Francesca’s love life but only 3 pages, less than half, given to what Laura did at the same time? Isn’t Laura more important at this point since she is, you know, actually advancing the needed knowled I haven’t read A Civil Action, and quite frankly after reading this book I never want to read anything by Harr.1. I don’t care that Francesca answered the phone wearing a towel and with wet hair. I don’t care about her thighs. Why do you keep telling me these things?2. Why is so much space give to Francesca’s love life but only 3 pages, less than half, given to what Laura did at the same time? Isn’t Laura more important at this point since she is, you know, actually advancing the needed knowledge?3. BTW, why is it Francesca and Laura when all that men are referred to by their last names?4. Oh and how come there are no dripping wet men to go along with the dripping wet Francesca?5. And how come Laura, who it seems was just as vital, gets so little time? Because she wouldn’t talk to Harr or because she wasn’t as pretty?6. Francesca might be smart, but it is really hard to tell that from this book. It’s actually a shock when she gets into a program and Laura doesn’t.
    more
  • Alger
    January 1, 1970
    Really a 1.51. A swing and a miss. A book I liked far more for the topic than the presentation.Let me explain. This is a book about a topic I really care about, and Harr is an author whose style I would otherwise relish. It is the combination of the two in this volume that I truly dislike. The discovery of Caravaggio 's The Taking of Christ is presented in two parallel narratives, each with its tensions when read separately. Yet Harr is unable to make those stories meet on any level except that Really a 1.51. A swing and a miss. A book I liked far more for the topic than the presentation.Let me explain. This is a book about a topic I really care about, and Harr is an author whose style I would otherwise relish. It is the combination of the two in this volume that I truly dislike. The discovery of Caravaggio 's The Taking of Christ is presented in two parallel narratives, each with its tensions when read separately. Yet Harr is unable to make those stories meet on any level except that of an enormous coincidence of the painting being recognized by a restorer as a Caravaggio just a year or so after the publication of an authoritative and unexpected provenience that the restorer never read before his discovery. Sheer chance drives this story forward, and so there is no support for Harr's treatment of these two narratives as a linear progression from one to the next.Then there is how Harr approaches the paired narratives. The first section is titled "The Roman Girl", and describes in thick detail the adventures of Francesca, an attractive graduate student whose vacation plans and sexual adventures are described with far more warmth and detail than her scholarly contributions to establishing the origins, dates, and sales histories of several benchmark works of Baroque art. We read as much about her cruising about Rome on a scooter with her skirts tucked under her firm thighs (really) as we do about her deciphering the coded language of 16th century account books.In short, Harr was obviously crushing on Francesca and she was a willing and detailed source of information about her willingness to head for the beach for a session of tanning rather than make best use of her limited time in an archive. Meanwhile Harr was a willing transcriptionist who (when it came to Francesca) lacked any editorial distance. As evidence, notice how little information we have about Francesca's constant partner in this research and what she was thinking or doing at any time during the process. Now compare the first section to the second, "The Restorer", where we are presented with an almost silent Sergio Benedetti. The impressionistic glimpses of Sergio at work on the painting, and the relative lack of detail about his daily activities and history either before or during this greatest moment in his professional life are stark, especially when that distance is suddenly destroyed when Francesca and Sergio meet and we revert entirely to Francesca's version of events. And this is exactly why this book bothered me in the reading. Although Harr is enamored of Francesca and clearly wants to advance her claims to the story of the discovery of the painting (to the extent that Sergio's claim to discovery in Harr's telling somehow seems to require Francesca's blessing and confirmation in addition to his actual possession of the painting), he simultaneously undermines her as a serious scholar at almost every rhetorical turn. There is something more than friendliness in the fact Harr consistently refers to the men by their surnames, but the women always by their first. Where Francesca relies upon chance meetings and accidental introductions to meet the important contacts she needs to advance in her career, the men are methodical in their connections and have stalwart masculine friendships. The consistency of Harr's subtle sexist inflection is increasingly repellent as the book progresses.Near the end of the book one encounters the observation that Francesca's co-researcher Laura refused to work with or meet Sergio after one initial encounter where he belittled their work and left her feeling insulted. One suspects after reading this book that she had similar reasons for not working with Harr on this project.
    more
  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    As a trained art historian hardened and cynical because of books like the Da Vinci Code, I wasn't expecting too much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, it is not a novel, although written to appeal to a reader's sense of "story." If you like Caravaggio, art restoration, seventeenth-century art history, or want a taste of how petty the scholarly art world can be, do give this book a look. If those kinds of intrigues are NOT up your alley, the style of this book may help As a trained art historian hardened and cynical because of books like the Da Vinci Code, I wasn't expecting too much from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. First of all, it is not a novel, although written to appeal to a reader's sense of "story." If you like Caravaggio, art restoration, seventeenth-century art history, or want a taste of how petty the scholarly art world can be, do give this book a look. If those kinds of intrigues are NOT up your alley, the style of this book may help you through it anyway! Apparently Tracy Kidder helped Harr in the process, and their real-life subject matter and prosody are similar. I like stories grounded in "real" life-- why make up stories when there are so many good ones waiting to be told?
    more
  • Janebbooks
    January 1, 1970
    Almost a mystery, certainly a drama: THE HUNT FOR A LOST CARAVAGGIO Anyone who has seen a Caravaggio will never forget the experience. So when a friend emailed me about a Caravaggio, a 1602 painting that hung in the dining room of a Jesuit residence in Dublin, Ireland for nearly 60 years before its authentification, I knew I needed to read Harr's book.Harr's dramatic work of narrative non-fiction begins in an Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea Almost a mystery, certainly a drama: THE HUNT FOR A LOST CARAVAGGIO Anyone who has seen a Caravaggio will never forget the experience. So when a friend emailed me about a Caravaggio, a 1602 painting that hung in the dining room of a Jesuit residence in Dublin, Ireland for nearly 60 years before its authentification, I knew I needed to read Harr's book.Harr's dramatic work of narrative non-fiction begins in an Italian village on a hilltop near the Adriatic coast, a decaying palazzo facing the sea, and in the basement, cobwebbed and dusty, lit by a single bulb, an archive unknown to scholars. Here, a young graduate student from Rome, Francesca Cappelletti, makes a discovery that inspires a search for a work of art of incalculable value, a painting lost for almost two centuries.Along with Francesca, the reader embarks on an spellbinding journey to discover the long-lost painting known as THE TAKING OF CHRIST---its mysterious fate and the circumstances of its disappearance have captivated Caravaggio devotees for years. After Francesca Cappelletti stumbles across a clue in that dusty archive, she tracks the painting across a continent and hundreds of years of history. But it is not until she meets Sergio Benedetti, an art restorer working in Ireland, that she finally manages to assemble all the pieces of the puzzle. The year is 1992.THE LOST PAINTING is indeed a "remarkable synthesis of history and detective story" and like any good detective story, difficult to put down.(One can see the painting at Caravaggio.com along with its autograph companion ENTOMBMENT--the removal of Christ's body from the cross-- also painted in 1602. I saw ENTOMBMENT in 1984 at the Vatican Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.)
    more
  • Katya Colvin
    January 1, 1970
    Read this book quite a few years ago while in a hospital with my daughter. It saved my sanity and eased the stay. Well written a true story about finding a masterpiece of Caravaggio. The painting itself is exquisite, I enjoyed studying it at a historical exibition in Rome. Harr’s writing is captivating; makes you want to find out what’s next and the story he tells will stay with you for a long, long time.
    more
  • Ryan Louis
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever read a "popular book" (i.e., a bestseller) with an intended audience so niche it actually gets stuck in a demographic ditch? This is the poster book for that effect. A book so enthralled with minutiae it should contain a warning from the surgeon general, "Note: unless an art history major, do not listen to this book-on-cd while operating a motor vehicle." I did enjoy parts of it--especially the section about art preservation and repair. FASCINATING stuff. But then again, I'm a huge Have you ever read a "popular book" (i.e., a bestseller) with an intended audience so niche it actually gets stuck in a demographic ditch? This is the poster book for that effect. A book so enthralled with minutiae it should contain a warning from the surgeon general, "Note: unless an art history major, do not listen to this book-on-cd while operating a motor vehicle." I did enjoy parts of it--especially the section about art preservation and repair. FASCINATING stuff. But then again, I'm a huge nerd. So, then, how did this get on a bestseller list? Does this mean that the trend in popular reading is shifting away from Harlequin Romance and genre Mystery? Probably not--I think Harr's just an established non-fiction writer. Fluke? I'll hold out hope that the world is beoming more of an art manque.
    more
  • Nelson Zagalo
    January 1, 1970
    "Una cosa tremenda"! É assim que este livro começa por referir o entusiasmo dos historiadores de arte nas suas buscas arqueológicas por quadros desaparecidos. E é assim que termino ao ler este livro, com uma sensação de gratidão para com o autor, que colocou em poucas páginas, de uma forma tão escorreita, em formato de romance, todo o trabalho levado a cabo na busca e descoberta de uma obra emblemática de Caravaggio, "A Captura de Cristo".No blog: http://virtual-illusion.blogspot.com/...
    more
  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    35. THE LOST PAINTING: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece. (2005). Jonathan Harr. ***1/2.This was the second book by this author; his first being the highly successful “A Civil Action.” In this tale, he creates a true-to-life mystery story that revolves around a missing masterpiece from a master from the Italian Baroque, Caravaggio. The painting in question was titled, “The Taking of Christ,” a depiction of Judas’ betrayal of Christ in a garden. Actually, it was not believed to be missing. T 35. THE LOST PAINTING: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece. (2005). Jonathan Harr. ***1/2.This was the second book by this author; his first being the highly successful “A Civil Action.” In this tale, he creates a true-to-life mystery story that revolves around a missing masterpiece from a master from the Italian Baroque, Caravaggio. The painting in question was titled, “The Taking of Christ,” a depiction of Judas’ betrayal of Christ in a garden. Actually, it was not believed to be missing. There was a painting in one of the museums in Odessa (not in Texas) that was claimed to be the original. Doubts about its authenticity began to arise, however, to the point where two young women – art students at the time – set out to either prove or disprove whether that painting was the true one or not. The book traces all of the work that dozens of people put in to trace the history of the true painting. That would tell them whether the Odessa painting was the real one or not. Later, an old painting that was hanging in a seminary, and was supposed to be by a minor Scots artist, was soon found to be the original painting that was sought after. The provenance of this painting was meticulously explored, and the restoration work needed was implemented. Details on the history of the painting and details on how a painting is restored are well presented – in such a fashion that we learn a lot about art in general. This is not a high mystery, but a thoughtful presentation of all of things that a painting has to go through to be certified as the true painting. Caravaggio was not well known until the 1920s, when he came back in favor. His total number of paintings ranged from about 60 to 80 works. He died young as the result of a fight with a rival for a woman. He was not a great role model, but he was perhaps one of the masters of his time. All of the loose ends of the various explorations that led to the ultimate proof of the authenticity of one of the works vs. the other are cleverly explored and presented so that the reader can follow the investigation along with the investigators. If you enjoy mystery and art, this is the perfect vehicle for following both of them in a lively and coherent tale.
    more
  • arcobaleno
    January 1, 1970
    Non è una sola storia, come fa sospettare il titolo: non è solo quella del ritrovamento a Dublino della Cattura di Cristo, un "Caravaggio" di cui si erano perse le tracce. Tutta la prima metà del libro è infatti un’altra storia a sé, altrettanto "curiosa" e interessante: il confronto tra due San Giovanni Battista romani, apparentemente identici, quello conservato alla Galleria Doria Pamphilj e quello rinvenuto in tempi molto recenti e oggi esposto ai Musei Capitolini. Ho avuto come l’impressione Non è una sola storia, come fa sospettare il titolo: non è solo quella del ritrovamento a Dublino della Cattura di Cristo, un "Caravaggio" di cui si erano perse le tracce. Tutta la prima metà del libro è infatti un’altra storia a sé, altrettanto "curiosa" e interessante: il confronto tra due San Giovanni Battista romani, apparentemente identici, quello conservato alla Galleria Doria Pamphilj e quello rinvenuto in tempi molto recenti e oggi esposto ai Musei Capitolini. Ho avuto come l’impressione che le due storie siano state concepite e scritte da J.H. in tempi e modi diversi, e poi incollate in qualche modo.Questa è stata solo una mia impressione, del tutto opinabile, che non contrasta d’altra parte il giudizio competente di ScaP a proposito della doppia traduzione. In ogni caso, le vicende narrate, tutte documentate, appaiono avvincenti; i personaggi citati sono assolutamente reali; i metodi di indagine e di restauro risultano scientificamente descritti; la vita di Caravaggio ben ricostruita; tutto incuriosisce e interessa.E, contagiata forse anche io dalla “sindrome caravaggesca”, mi sono lasciata prendere dal desiderio di vedere ancora, dal vivo, almeno i due “San Giovanni” di Roma!
    more
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    For my trip to Italy, I picked up this book - recommended by both the Boston Globe and NY Times. The author of The Civil Action - a great read. The lost painting is "The Taking of Christ" - an account of how, in 1990, the original was found. One of the key people is Francesca Cappelletti, a 24-year old graduate student at the University of Rome. She cites a church in Rome that owns Caravaggio paintings - three paintings about St. Matthew. We visited this church to see the paintings - tucked in a For my trip to Italy, I picked up this book - recommended by both the Boston Globe and NY Times. The author of The Civil Action - a great read. The lost painting is "The Taking of Christ" - an account of how, in 1990, the original was found. One of the key people is Francesca Cappelletti, a 24-year old graduate student at the University of Rome. She cites a church in Rome that owns Caravaggio paintings - three paintings about St. Matthew. We visited this church to see the paintings - tucked in a corner of the church (though many other people were gazing at these paintings) Also, saw Caravaggio paintings at the Borghese Galleria in Rome and the Uffizi Museum in Florence. I think this book meant more to me because I actually saw Caravaggio paintings. But, the search to find the real "Taking of Christ" is fascinating. Meticulously researching documents throughout the centuries - paintings sold and bought by different owners. Also, we are introduced to the technique and art of restoring paintings. Reminded me a bit of the fiction book, The Blue Hyacinth, about a Vermeer painting throughout the centuries - an authentic or a forgery and what it means to the owners. The Lost Painting was the perfect book for my trip to Italy.
    more
  • Stephen
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent! Tells the true art history detective story behind the discovery of Caravaggio's masterpiece The Taking of Christ believed lost for 400 years. Fast-paced and suspenseful. Mr. Harr's writing is lean and descriptive with just the right balance of emotion. Everything needed to tell this fascinating story, nothing more. Loved it.
    more
  • S©aP
    January 1, 1970
    Se un testo inglese ha un unico autore e due traduttori; se la sua prima parte risulta resa in un italiano sciatto e irritante, quasi illegibile, mentre la seconda fila via bene, il sospetto che uno dei due traduttori abbia sbagliato mestiere è forte. Anche la misura dei "tempi" e dei "modi" dell'editoria, oggi, è più chiara e percepibile. L'argomento è interessantissimo, e attuale, viste le recenti celebrazioni dei 400 anni dalla morte del sommo pittore milanese. La storia dei retroscena che po Se un testo inglese ha un unico autore e due traduttori; se la sua prima parte risulta resa in un italiano sciatto e irritante, quasi illegibile, mentre la seconda fila via bene, il sospetto che uno dei due traduttori abbia sbagliato mestiere è forte. Anche la misura dei "tempi" e dei "modi" dell'editoria, oggi, è più chiara e percepibile. L'argomento è interessantissimo, e attuale, viste le recenti celebrazioni dei 400 anni dalla morte del sommo pittore milanese. La storia dei retroscena che portano al ritrovamento di una sua tela perduta, intrigante. L'idea che si ottiene, pur pallida, del mondo degli ..."esperti" è illuminante e insolita. Insomma, una bella lettura, nella quale si "romanza" una realtà con nomi e cognomi. Peccato, davvero, che le prime 150 di, circa, 300 pagine siano scritte come il tema "a tirar via" di un alunno di quinta elementare, cui sia stato prescritto l'uso del discorso indiretto, spiegato dalla maestra il giorno prima. Un esempio? «...si trattava di un appuntamento al quale nemmeno Francesca si sarebbe mai sognata di presentarsi in ritardo.»
    more
  • Tiffaney
    January 1, 1970
    This is, apparently, a real account of the discovery of one of the lost Caravaggio paintings. I went into this thinking it was merely historical fiction, so that was a nice surprise. The author does not change the names of the major players, and talks about his interviews with them. He also gives a great bibliography, complete with books and articles written by those involved in the discovery. It reads a lot like simple historical fiction, but was enjoyable.
    more
  • Matt McCormick
    January 1, 1970
    I have spent the last three days devouring Harr's account of the discovery of a lost Caravaggio masterpiece - "The Taking of Christ". His presentation is an excellent detective story, lesson in art history/restoration and the character development of interesting and at times pretentious people. Like a jigsaw puzzle master he fits all the divergent pieces together into a clear and beautiful picture.I was especially pleased that Harr devoted space and time to individuals who it seems failed to ach I have spent the last three days devouring Harr's account of the discovery of a lost Caravaggio masterpiece - "The Taking of Christ". His presentation is an excellent detective story, lesson in art history/restoration and the character development of interesting and at times pretentious people. Like a jigsaw puzzle master he fits all the divergent pieces together into a clear and beautiful picture.I was especially pleased that Harr devoted space and time to individuals who it seems failed to achieve esteem but who did much of the painstaking work that allowed a grimy painting hung in a Jesuit residence to be effectively labelled as a Caravaggio original. As is too often the case some hard working women failed to get the acclaim rendered to a lucky self important male who stumbled into the find of a lifetime.After finishing Harr's book, whose timeline ends circa 1994, I quickly searched the internet and found that the debate over which is the original "The Taking of Christ" has not quite ended. A newspaper story suggest Harr may have begun a sequel but I am unable to find that a new version has been published.Those who enjoy the art and history of the siecento and who also enjoy a good detective story will find much to appreciate in this book. If you have, as I do, The Caravaggio Disease (read the book before guessing please) will find it even more compelling.
    more
  • Jim
    January 1, 1970
    A surprisingly good read!I found this in the book exchange box in my town and wasn't aware of it before that. I have a lifelong interest in painting and art history, so I decided to give it a read.... I was pulled in immediately. Jonathan Harr managed to keep me engaged in what could have been a boring academic search for a lost painting. His pacing and character description are great and I had a hard time stopping each night before going to bed. That doesn't happen often, so I can safely recomm A surprisingly good read!I found this in the book exchange box in my town and wasn't aware of it before that. I have a lifelong interest in painting and art history, so I decided to give it a read.... I was pulled in immediately. Jonathan Harr managed to keep me engaged in what could have been a boring academic search for a lost painting. His pacing and character description are great and I had a hard time stopping each night before going to bed. That doesn't happen often, so I can safely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in art history, especially if you love Caravaggio.
    more
  • Will
    January 1, 1970
    An excellent example of how to write about a complex, scholarly topic with clarity. Writers attempting to bring awareness to an important, yet abstruse field of study should read The Lost Painting. Plus, it's a delightful story that isn't afraid to make fun of narrow-minded scholars. If you want to explore why we value art and "authenticity," give it a read.
    more
  • Kay
    January 1, 1970
    An interesting blend of art history and detective story, author Jonathan Harr focuses on the handful of scholars, including two students, who found evidence of the lost painting in question, Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ." He concentrates most of all on Francesca Capelletti, who along with another art history, Laura Testa, was most responsible for doing the tedious legwork of tracking what had happened to the lost painting. Another man, an art restorer working at the National Gallery in Dub An interesting blend of art history and detective story, author Jonathan Harr focuses on the handful of scholars, including two students, who found evidence of the lost painting in question, Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ." He concentrates most of all on Francesca Capelletti, who along with another art history, Laura Testa, was most responsible for doing the tedious legwork of tracking what had happened to the lost painting. Another man, an art restorer working at the National Gallery in Dublin, was ultimately responsible for finding the painting, where it had languished for years in plain sight in a small Jesuit monastery, but it is Francesca who is at the center of this tale. Harr's approach is novelistic, and at times it seems he is attempting cast Francesca in the role of a heroine in a thriller. Unfortunately, this technique doesn't really mesh very well with the actual events, which involved a lot of long, hard digging through dusty archives of a decrepit palazzo and various libraries. The book seems to at one moment be constructing "scenes" between the characters, describing their interactions and personality with verve, then lapsing into rather dry sections detailing the actual research being done and the state of Caravaggio scholarship in general. Interspersed throughout the book is a condensed biography of the artist himself, who was a romantic figure, a rebel and a bit of a brawler. On the whole, the author manages to weave a fairly compelling narrative from these disparate parts, but I have to confess I felt a bit impatient when he seemed to be constructing "scenes" of what took place among the major "characters."I listened to an audio version read by Campbell Scott, whose delivery was a rather bland, hushed monotone. I suppose the best thing that can be said for his reading is that it wasn't distracting and that he was able to pronounce all the Italian names and phrases fairly competently. I did wonder, though, if I would have enjoyed this book more if I'd read rather than listened to it.
    more
  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Harr's book is an account of the recovery of a Caravaggio painting, "The Taking of Christ," that had been missing for several centuries. Various copies of the painting existed throughout the world, but all Caravaggio scholars in the world agreed that none were done by Caravaggio's hands. The Lost Painting traces the discovery of the original painting, following two Italian art history scholars and a painting conservator as they all but stumble upon it.It's a fascinating topic, but Harr does it a Harr's book is an account of the recovery of a Caravaggio painting, "The Taking of Christ," that had been missing for several centuries. Various copies of the painting existed throughout the world, but all Caravaggio scholars in the world agreed that none were done by Caravaggio's hands. The Lost Painting traces the discovery of the original painting, following two Italian art history scholars and a painting conservator as they all but stumble upon it.It's a fascinating topic, but Harr does it a disservice by writing about it as if it wasn't. He dresses up much of the text in breathy prose and over-wrought character descriptions, more suited to B-grade mystery novels than to non-fiction art history. Maybe it's my own personal/professional bias, but I found the book most interesting when it dealt with the nitty-gritty details of conservation and authentication, or recounting the (sordid) history of Caravaggio himself. I found it boring and/or distracting when it felt the need to deal with the politics of academia. Yes, academics are self-important and petty. This is neither new nor interesting. Harr is a good writer, I just wish he had a little bit more faith in his subject.
    more
  • JoLee
    January 1, 1970
    Jonathan Harr's The Lost Painting chronicles the events leading to the discovery, in 1993, of a lost painting by Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ. Scholars had known of the painting and many copies existed, yet Caravaggio's original canvas was lost for hundreds of years.http://www.nationalgallery.ie/Collect...I know I am an art history nerd, but I found this book incredible suspenseful even though almost all the big discoveries were unearthed in archives (tedious work). The book recounts the con Jonathan Harr's The Lost Painting chronicles the events leading to the discovery, in 1993, of a lost painting by Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ. Scholars had known of the painting and many copies existed, yet Caravaggio's original canvas was lost for hundreds of years.http://www.nationalgallery.ie/Collect...I know I am an art history nerd, but I found this book incredible suspenseful even though almost all the big discoveries were unearthed in archives (tedious work). The book recounts the contributions of several people, an eminent octogenarian Caravaggio scholar, an Italian art restorer living in Ireland, and a Roman graduate student of art history. Much of the credit for unearthing The Taking's provenance goes to Francesca Cappelletti, the aforementioned grad student, who was in her twenties at the time and a Master's student. Seriously impressive. I know my background and interests make me predisposed to appreciate this book, but I found it even more enthralling than I expected.
    more
  • Adrian Stumpp
    January 1, 1970
    This book gets 3 stars because Caravaggio went through all the trouble of living a fascinating life. Harr wrote a 2 star book about him. I chose to split the difference.For those not familiar with the life of Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Caravaggio, this is a passable lintroduction. Harr has an ambitious narrative device but fails to pull it off. The style blends the staid authority of non-fiction writing with the immediacy of narrative, complete with characterization, scenery, and even pl This book gets 3 stars because Caravaggio went through all the trouble of living a fascinating life. Harr wrote a 2 star book about him. I chose to split the difference.For those not familiar with the life of Renaissance artist Michelangelo di Caravaggio, this is a passable lintroduction. Harr has an ambitious narrative device but fails to pull it off. The style blends the staid authority of non-fiction writing with the immediacy of narrative, complete with characterization, scenery, and even plot arc. But Harr's authority as a historian is compromised by his inability to conjure compelling narrative. The shear facts of history are the only fare that carry the reader to the end in spite of Harr's desperate attempts to make you find something better to read. The final effect is muddy and poorly wrought. Harr writes like the narrator of a PBS documentary. Riviting subject matter. Not a very good read.
    more
  • Angela Juline
    January 1, 1970
    i absolutely loved his book, a civil action (if you saw the movie, which was terrible, the book is far better), so i'm hoping this one will be just as intriguing. loved it! i learned so much, so even though it wasn't a page turner, i highly recommend it.
    more
  • Michael Gerald
    January 1, 1970
    A book that started as an article in the Reader's Digest in 1995, this is a fascinating true detective story of how a graduate student and a brilliant art restorer discovered a painting made by Caravaggio.
  • Todd Wright
    January 1, 1970
    Part Da Vinci Code, part Caravaggio biography, part survey of Baroque art history. Easy read - very well worth the time spent.
  • Eavan
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so fun to read. All the sprinkling of Caravaggio, the lives of all the art historians, restorers, students, press—it was a treat for someone wanting to go into the field in some capacity. Following at times two female graduate students, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa through their archival adventures in Italy, and later, Sergio Benedetti, as he restores and attempts to keep the famed found Caravaggio a secret. While I pretty much liked the novel like writing of the book, I d This book was so fun to read. All the sprinkling of Caravaggio, the lives of all the art historians, restorers, students, press—it was a treat for someone wanting to go into the field in some capacity. Following at times two female graduate students, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa through their archival adventures in Italy, and later, Sergio Benedetti, as he restores and attempts to keep the famed found Caravaggio a secret. While I pretty much liked the novel like writing of the book, I didn't care too much for the intimate details of some of the people's lives. Couldn't really find myself caring about Francesca's Oxford boyfriend, or something as trivial as the hours of her university's library.Benedetti was such an interesting microcosm of male academic elitism, it was such a classic story of male ego being threatened and it was... to put it lightly... infuriating. I can only hope more women join the field and are undeterred by asses like that, but I digress. This was a fun book, and I recommend it for any art history lover or someone looking for light non-fiction (and I'm not just saying that because I'll be attending the author's college he works at this September either;).
    more
  • Robyn
    January 1, 1970
    Glad I chose to listen to the audiobook, narrated by Campbell Scott. This was quite an enjoyable retelling of a true life art history mystery.
  • Sharyn Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    It is hard to comment on this book without giving too much away. You'll learn how the origins of paintings are researched. (You might be surprised at the state of some of the archives.) You will learn about painting restoration. What it was like to be a student at the University of Rome, the second largest in the world at the time. How experts on certain artists consulted, and what they look for when helping to determine the authenticity of a painting. What kind of testing can be done on paintin It is hard to comment on this book without giving too much away. You'll learn how the origins of paintings are researched. (You might be surprised at the state of some of the archives.) You will learn about painting restoration. What it was like to be a student at the University of Rome, the second largest in the world at the time. How experts on certain artists consulted, and what they look for when helping to determine the authenticity of a painting. What kind of testing can be done on paintings, and what does it reveal? All of these things happen and bit by bit, a mystery unravels - mostly. There are still some unanswered questions at the end, but the painting is over 400 years old, so the unanswered questions are pretty minor in light of that.
    more
Write a review