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Download The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece Audiobook, by Jonathan Harr Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,363 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jonathan Harr Narrator: Campbell Scott Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2005 ISBN: 9780739313213
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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 didn’t 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 circumstances.

Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty 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.

Told with consummate skill by the writer of the bestselling, award-winning A Civil ActionThe Lost Paintingis a remarkable synthesis of history and detective story. 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Harr infuses this information with life and suspense, and his sure-to-be-popular account will lead general readers to a new appreciation of a long-lost masterpiece as well as of the potential excitement of art history scholarship and art restoration.”

    Library Journal

  • “A revealing portrait of a world seldom seen by ordinary folks, in which Mahon, Cappelletti, Benedetti, and their peers obsessively while away the hours, ‘always in the company of other scholars, always talking about art.’”

    Washington Post

  • “In truth, the book reads better than a thriller because, unlike a lot of bestselling non-fiction authors who write in a more or less novelistic vein…Harr doesn’t plump up his tale. He almost never foreshadows, doesn’t implausibly reconstruct entire conversations, and rarely throws in litanies of clearly conjectured or imagined details just for color’s sake.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2005
  • A 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Current Interest

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy | 2/18/2014

    " this was quite interesting to learn how old paintings are restored. Even tho this was non-fiction, it read like a novel as he wrote it in narrative form. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Writerlibrarian | 2/13/2014

    " Harr tells the story of the search for a lost Italian masterpiece in a way that neophytes can enjoy the thrill of the chase and not be overwhelmed with all the intellectual jargon of the art history world. Caravaggio was one of the brightest stars of the Baroque period and very few of his paintings has survives. This is the account of finding one of his painting. I liked the no frill approach the author had. For art lovers and people that like a good treasure hunt done by academics. That means old archives in remote Italian villages, research through 1600's account books, 1900's sale receipts etc. A librarian's dream treasure hunt. : ) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Hali | 2/10/2014

    " NF- loved Civil Action, and like fic and non-fic about art world. Harr is so readable and smart...easy to forget this isn't a suspense novel. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne Eiseman | 2/4/2014

    " Story is interesting as is the info about Caravaggio's life. I don't like the style of the author-switching back and forth so quickly between events past and present in characters lives. Do you call the people in a nonfiction book characters? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 2/1/2014

    " I want to read this again! A vivid and enthralling account of the journey to discover the long-lost painting known as The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky | 1/29/2014

    " My love of art helped the rating of this book. It was fascinating to read about the 400-year provenance of a couple of Carvaggio's paintings and the mysteries/searching/research surrounding them. Non-fiction is not my preference, but this one was enjoyable - though the last 75ish pages were a bit sluggish for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Heather | 1/29/2014

    " I didn't realize this was a true story until close to the end. In fact, I thought several times that it seemed rather journalistic in style for historical fiction. It can be a little dry, but it's definitely an interesting story if you have any interest in art history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurel | 1/23/2014

    " A re-read for me. At my suggestion, it is this month's book club selection. The author follows the recent discovery of Caravaggio's "The Taking of Christ," acquainting us with the many characters involved in its discovery and all the twists and turns in researching its provenance. It gives a fascinating glimpse into the world of art. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa Ramey | 1/20/2014

    " Pretty good. Hard to beat _A Civil Action_ but still better than I expected (and a quick read too!) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 mwbham | 1/20/2014

    " I enjoyed reading this account of the process of authenticating and finding long missing paintings by Caravaggio and others. I liked the sense of being there in Rome, in London, during the search for The Taking of Christ. The technical aspects of the investigation into the identification of the painter were especially interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 1/17/2014

    " an intriguing page turner with interesting facts about restoring art. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Christopher | 1/5/2014

    " A non-fiction book that reads like a thriller. An incredible true story of how a lost Caravaggio was identified by two graduate students. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 12/15/2013

    " Fascinating story about the recovery of a missing Caravaggio painting. I learned a lot about art, Italy, Caravaggio and the methods used to restore paintings. Hard to put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah | 11/25/2013

    " It gets increasingly better as you read. I'd give it 3.5 "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eric | 11/11/2013

    " This reads exceedingly easily. Feels like a mystery, even though in the end there wasn't much of a mystery. A good summer book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Annette Gulinson | 9/27/2013

    " Great book on art history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mrsinserra | 9/27/2013

    " This book was awesome, a very quick read. It is a great true story of the finding of a lost painting- i was so engrossed i finished it in one evening. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marylou | 5/18/2013

    " Would recommend this to Patty. I felt it was a true story, the characters were so real and the storyline so happening! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalie | 5/16/2013

    " Very educational. I learned a lot about art and found the book well researched. It kept my interest throughout. A good read if you are at all interested in art. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candace Wegner | 1/14/2013

    " Quick paced, thrilling read, especially for an art lover! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jen | 12/26/2012

    " One of my more recent non-fiction reads but the great thing about it is that it almost reads like fiction. Very interesting art mystery that will hold your attention from beginning to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Echo | 12/18/2012

    " I enjoyed this book. It was one I could not put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 6/27/2012

    " Not as good as A Civil Action, but an interesting, fun very quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ann | 5/1/2012

    " A fun read, but not that compelling. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane Rosario | 2/29/2012

    " I'm not sure I'll finish this one. I loved Harr's first book, A Civil Action, but I find I can't engage with the characters in this book. I'm fascinated by provenance, but I still am not compelled to finish this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jade | 1/8/2012

    " I love this book! Jonathan Harr is the master of English language, it makes reader really enjoy reading the language itself. The journey of the last painting was impressive, the readers go to layer under layer with the author to a satisfying end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary | 9/29/2011

    " This was a difficult book to get into, because of all the Italian names, words and places. However, it's worth the work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Samantha | 8/20/2011

    " I had to keep reminding myself that this is not fiction. Great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 6/25/2011

    " The story seemed a little dramatic in some spots but overall was very interesting and informative. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marnie | 6/13/2011

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Granted, I really like Caravaggio's paintings, but I think I would have liked it without even knowing who he was. Some of the reviews complained about the descriptions of searching through archives or restoring a painting. I found it fascinating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margo Candela | 5/31/2011

    " A short, interesting, well paced non-fiction book. In a weekend I learned a bit about art history research, restoration, ego and politics in the art world and Caravaggio. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karen | 4/26/2011

    " This is a true story that reads like a detective novel. It's fun to have a character in a book who you know. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christinepeterson | 4/11/2011

    " Quietly enjoyable non-fiction account of how a famous lost painting by Caravaggio was discovered and documented. Easy to read and accessible account of how the art scholars did their work. I enjoyed the peek into that world. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barrie | 3/5/2011

    " A wonderful real-life detective story. I finally saw the painting a couple of months ago, and having read this book enriched the experience immeasurably. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linda Hali | 2/13/2011

    " NF- loved Civil Action, and like fic and non-fic about art world. Harr is so readable and smart...easy to forget this isn't a suspense novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 2/12/2011

    " Fun, quick, interesting and very readable. I kept studying the picture on the back cover as I read the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Candice | 2/8/2011

    " Very interesting book, fast read - good insight into the world of art, art collectors, restorers and historians. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gregory | 2/6/2011

    " Brilliant detective story as art historians track down the famous lost painting by Caravaggio, "The Taking Of Christ". Based on real life events, it's the intellectuals' "Da Vinci Code". Great read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becca | 2/2/2011

    " a little dry at first, but compelling when you come to the restoration part. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ginger | 1/17/2011

    " Love reading historical fiction! This was a great read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Louisa | 1/16/2011

    " An interesting telling of how art history research gets done, and how the quest for information can take over the lives of those on the hunt. "

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About the Author
Jonathan Harr is the author of the national bestseller A Civil Action, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. He is a former staff writer at the New England Monthly and has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. He lives and works in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he has taught nonfiction writing at Smith College.
About the Narrator

Campbell Scott has, in addition to his numerous stage and film credits, narrated more than forty audiobooks, including This Boy’s Life and Into Thin Air.