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The Lost Painting
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April 2019: History > The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr - 3 stars

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message 1: by Joy D (last edited Apr 21, 2019 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Joy D | 3866 comments The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr - 3 stars

PBT Comments: Definitely fits the history tag. Also fits Horizons for this month.

Non-fiction art history that provides an engaging account of the efforts to locate, repair, and authenticate a lost Caravaggio Masterpiece, entitled The Taking of Christ. This book contains subjects of interest to me such as methods used in painting conservation, tracing provenance, and the lives of masterful artists. It follows two students, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa, as they locate records from the 1600s in the cellar of a palazzo in a small town in Italy. It then switches to the story of an art restorer in Ireland, Sergio Benedetti, who recognizes a high-quality painting at a house of Jesuits, attributed to another artist, and believes it may be the lost Caravaggio painting. It provides a glimpse into the eccentric and competitive world of art historians. This book is focused on the search and restoration efforts, and is not an extensive biography of Caravaggio, but It provides fascinating flashbacks into his short, dramatic, and violent life.

I found it remarkable that seemingly independent efforts can sometimes serendipitously merge into a notable discovery. Unfortunately, the account is marred by an abundance of superfluous information that does not advance the narrative. For example, I was baffled by the inclusion of the romantic adventures of Francesca Cappelletti. I think the author may have been trying a bit too hard to make it into “non-fiction that reads like fiction.” It could have also benefitted by including photo of the painting. I think the book will be appreciated by anyone interested in art history or restoration.

Link to My GR Review


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2938 comments The art history interests me. The romance does not. The inclusion of the romance is definitely generating some lively comments to other GR reviews!

Thanks for this review. I'll keep it in mind. It is an interesting art history story.


Joy D | 3866 comments Jgrace wrote: "The art history interests me. The romance does not..."

I'm the same. I read this for the art history. I think sometimes authors just "throw in a romance" to try to appeal to more readers. Luckily, it's not a major plotline, just an occasional distraction.


message 4: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 5567 comments Most of the books on my Italy and History piles involve artists of various types, so I definitely see the appeal!


Joy D | 3866 comments NancyJ wrote: "Most of the books on my Italy and History piles involve artists of various types, so I definitely see the appeal!"

I liked it. I'm always looking for interesting books about art history so if you have any favorites, let me know!


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