“The Taking of Christ,” a painting by the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio, has been missing for centuries. Could it possibly be hanging above the fireplace in an obscure residence for Jesuit priests in Dublin?
Jonathan Harr has a way of taking a collection of dry facts and making them into a page-turner. He did it in the best-seller “A Civil Action,” and he does it again in “The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece.”
The lives of four people — two art students, the world’s foremost authority on Caravaggio and an art restorer — converge to answer two questions: Is the painting authentic (or just the best copy ever painted) and how did it get from 17th-century Italy to 20th-century Ireland?
I’ve always appreciated a good mystery, and I love reading about art, so the title caught my attention. When I saw it was written by Harr, I was a goner. And he doesn’t disappoint.
The book is filled with interesting people, the most colorful of which is Caravaggio himself, an awesome artist with a violent temperament who died young under mysterious circumstances. We learn a lot of about the artist and his work, as well as how paintings are restored and what secrets lie beneath the layers of dirt, grease and varnish accumulated over the centuries. It is those secrets that finally determine whether the lost painting has been found.
Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Taking_of_Christ to see “The Taking of Christ” and other paintings by Caravaggio.