The Lost Painting

  • by Jonathan Harr
  • Narrated by Campbell Scott
  • 6 hrs and 26 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.
Caravaggio scholars estimate that between 60 and 80 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 puzzle.
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 enthralling.


What the Critics Say

"Harr's skillful and long-awaited follow-up to 1997's A Civil Action provides a finely detailed account." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

an incredible and complex story unfolds seamlessly

This book was absolutely excellent, an easy listen with a wonderful cast of characters. The storyline flows nicely despite being very complex, surrounding the incredible discovery of a Caravaggio painting in the unlikeliest of places. The rich narrative seamlessly ties together diverse characters and the underlying mystery surrounding their connection, albeit unknown to them, to the lost painting. Throughout the story, the various personalities are fleshed-out as they are followed, and the truth of the painting's history unfolds. The details were wonderful, making it easy to visualize the different places visited, the people in the story, and the various levels of connection that are made as the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. I love art and mysteries, and I loved this book. I was also pleasantly surprised by the brief but informative interview with the author. Highly recommended.
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- Jeremiah

Engrossing and well written

Jonathan Harr has written a story within a story, but not just the usual kind. This is a biography within a true story, a window on history glimpsed from the world of art historians. He has crafted a tale that is both suspenseful and full of human drama. The listener comes to care about the real people who populate this book, whether they are our contemporaries or lived 400 years ago in Rome.
I hated for the story to end. There is an interesting interview with Mr. Harr at the end of the book. His style is truly unique, a contemporay historian/journalist who writes non-fiction with the feel of a novel. He is writing shorter pieces now, but I hope that he will begin another full length work soon.
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- Gail N.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-21-2005
  • Publisher: Random House Audio