Since we recently watched Simon Schama’s DVDs called Power of Art, my husband and I have become very interested in the Italian painter, Caravaggio. So when I ran into a book at the library last week called The Lost Painting: A Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, by Jonathan Harr, I knew we would be interested in reading it. It did not disappoint.
It’s actually a non-fiction book about the discovery of a missing masterpiece (The Taking of Christ) by Caravaggio in the early 1990s. It was a fascinating story of research and detection, and read like a good mystery novel. It also told the story of the brilliant and troubled artist.
The glimpse into the art history and art restoration worlds was both educational and fascinating. Reading about Caravaggio’s violent life was also fascinating and made for quite story.
From a New York Times article on the book by Bruce Handy:
…early in the book, Harr offers a sketch of Sir Denis Mahon, the greatest living expert on Caravaggio:
“Sir Denis believed that a painting was like a window back into time, that with meticulous study he could peer into a work by Caravaggio and observe that moment, 400 years ago, when the artist was in his studio, studying the model before him, mixing colors on his palette, putting brush to canvas. Sir Denis believed that by studying the work of an artist he could penetrate the depths of that man’s mind. In the case of Caravaggio, it was the mind of a genius. A murderer and a madman, perhaps, but certainly a genius.”
Although this book wasn’t on my original list for Sarah’s Art History Reading Challenge, I’m glad I found it.