Newport Librarians's Reviews > Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece

Stealing the Mystic Lamb by Noah Charney
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Mar 14, 12

bookshelves: ms-kathy, ya-non-fiction
Read in February, 2011

Jan van Eyck's 1432 multi-panelled oil masterpiece depicting Adam and Eve, the Annunciation, judges, pilgrims, popes, martyrs, the Lamb of God, and more, all in splendid color and detail and known as the Ghent Altarpiece, may be considered the first oil painting and is certainly one of the world's recognized treasures. Art historian Noah Charney does a fine job explaining the importance of van Eyck's 24 scenes to the general reader. But the story of the altarpiece really springs to life when he begins to describe the number of times--and number of ingenious ways--that parts or all of the work have been stolen, misappropriated, or in some way used as a pawn in world politics. The Altarpiece has been attacked by iconoclasts, coveted by Napoleon, stolen by a henchman of Hitler; one missing panel may have been painted over by a copyist who was assigned the work of painting a legitimate copy. Charney teaches a good bit of art history through an entertaining narrative of detection.
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