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Book Review

Book: The Lost Painting
Author: Jonathan Harr
Published: October, 2005
Publisher: Random House

available at

Synopsis: The Lost Painting chronicles the events leading up to the discovery of a lost painting, The Taking of Christ, by Caravaggio, master of the Italian Baroque. Two art history students, two professors, a renowned art historian, an art restorer, a Jesuit priest and an Italian marchesa all play a role either directly or indirectly in the discovery of this painting of inestimable value that was missing for hundreds of years.

Editorís Review: If youíve ever wanted to know what itís really like to be an art historian, The Lost Painting is the book to read. Granted, the work of every art historian doesnít lead to a grand discovery as in this story but it reveals to the reader the methods, concerns, frustrations and rewards of the art historian as well as the fascinating art of restoration. The book also reveals the value of persistence, intuition and even serendipity in identifying a masterpiece, even one that you might not have been looking for. John Harr paints a startlingly realistic picture of each of the characters who play a role in the discovery of The Taking of Christ complete with their flaws -- sometimes endearing, sometimes not. Harr sticks to the facts and tells the story in a methodical way but the tale is anything but dull and he enables the reader to make sense of the complicated paper trail without much effort. Although the authorís inclusion of various details of Caravaggioís life is at times a bit awkward, his sketch of the artist based on historical documents provides a nice contrast to the present-day activities of the historians, and serves to enhance the intrigue already surrounding the talented but volatile artist. The Lost Painting, a story about real people and real mysteries, shows us that miracles do happen, even when you least expect them.

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Diana Blake is a professional artist and art history enthusiast. Her fascination with art history began when she encountered European art firsthand during several trips abroad as a young adult. As she began to compose a portfolio for her own art career, she called upon what she had seen in Europe and extended her knowledge to other styles of art through profuse reading and exhaustive research. As a result, Diana has written more than one hundred articles in which she delves into a variety of art history topics and she has compiled a list of links that she believes to be invaluable for art history enthusiasts. In addition, she also reviews books and movies on the topic of art history and has assembled an extensive list of online stores that sell books, movies and gift items related to art history.
   You can see Diana's own artwork by visiting her site at