The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr
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.
Prizewinning author Jonathan Harr 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
Told with consummate skill by the writer of the bestselling, award-winning A
Civil Action, The Lost Painting is a remarkable synthesis of history and
detective story. The fascinating details of Caravaggio's strange, turbulent
career and the astonishing beauty of his work come to life in these pages.
Harr's account is not unlike a Caravaggio painting: vivid, deftly wrought, and