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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 didnt 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 circumstancesCaravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today Many othersno one knows the precise numberhave 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 copyPrizewinning author Jonathan Harr embarks on an spellbinding journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christits 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 puzzleTold 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 Caravaggios strange turbulent career and the astonishing beauty of his work come to life in these pages Harrs account is not unlike a Caravaggio painting vivid deftly wrought and enthrallingquot Jonathan Harr has gone to the trouble of writing what will probably be a bestseller rich and wonderful in truth the book reads better than a thriller because unlike a lot of best-selling nonfiction authors who write in a more or less novelistic vein Harrs previous book A Civil Action was made into a John Travolta movie Harr doesnt plump up hi tale He almost never foreshadows doesnt implausibly reconstruct entire conversations and rarely throws in litanies of clearly conjectured or imagined details just for colors sake if youre a sucker for Rome and for dusk youll enjoy Harrs more clearly reported details about life in the city as when--one of my favorite moments in the whole book--Francesca and another young colleague try to calm their nerves before a crucial meeting with a forbidding professor by eating gelato And who wouldnt in Italy The pleasures of travelogue here are incidental but not inconsiderablequot --The New York Times Book ReviewquotJonathan Harr has taken the story of the lost painting and woven from it a deeply moving narrative about history art and taste--and about the greed envy covetousness and professional jealousy of people who fall prey to obsession It is as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to readquot --The EconomistFrom the Hardcover edition.

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