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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr. New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN: 0-375-50801-5

This is the true story of the search for a painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1573-1610). Much is known about the painting, and numerous copies exist. But as our story begins, no one knows what happened to the original. Caravaggio belongs to the period of the Italian Baroque, and was not highly regarded until relatively recently, even until the 1960's in fact, when he finally began to be recognized as the master he was.

Two Italian university students studying art history, Francesca Cappelletti and Laura Testa begin the serious hunt on one end, tracing the beginnings of the missing painting, hoping to find clues that will lead to its present whereabouts. Ultimately, the actual painting comes to the attention of another Italian, working as a restorer for the National Gallery of Ireland. But without the previous work of the two students, he might not have had the proof he needed.

It is a fascinating story, an intellectual treasure hunt, a scholarly quest, you might way. Harr brings the story to life, and makes us interested in carefully following each twist and turn. What also makes the book eminently readable is the way the author has broken it down into little snippets, short sections that make it easy to read a few pages, find a stopping point, and pick up the book again later. This book is definitely written for the modern attention-deficit-disorder age in which we find ourselves, easily distracted and without enough time to just sit and read for hours on end.

Recommended for all readers and highly recommended for art history buffs, or for anyone who enjoys a good intellectual sleuthing.


  • Sounds good - I'll have to put this book on my list for my next trip to the library.


    By Blogger Jessica, at 8:59 PM  

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