The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Booksellers Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece

Book Review: The Vanishing Velazquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece
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Michael Peppiatt. Published in , Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma was the first in-depth study of the artist's life. It has not been superseded. Peter Robb. A bold, fresh biography of the world's first modern painter As presented with "blood and bone and sinew" Times Literary Supplement by Peter Robb, Caravaggio's wild and tempestuous life was a provocation to a culture in a state of siege.

The of the sixteenth century was marked by the Inquisition and Counter-Reformation, a background of ideological cold war against which, despite all odds and at great cost to their creators, brilliant feats of art and science were achieved. No artist captured the dark, violent spirit of the time better than Caravaggio, variously known as Marisi, Moriggia, Merigi, and sometimes, simply M.

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As art critic Robert Hughes has said, "There was art before him and art after him, and they were not the same. As with Caravaggio's art, M arrests and susps time to reveal what the author calls "the theater of the partly seen. Similar ebooks.

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Laura Cumming. There were no screams when she was taken, suggesting the culprit was someone familiar to her, and when she turned up again in a nearby village several days later, she was found in perfect health and happiness. No one was ever accused of a crime. The incident quickly faded from her memory, and her parents never discussed it. To the contrary, they deliberately hid it from her, and she did not learn of it for half a century. This was not the only secret her parents kept from her. Compulsive, vivid, and profoundly touching, Five Days Gone is a masterful blend of memoir and history, an extraordinary personal narrative unlike any other.

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We cannot see them otherwise, no matter how objective we might hope to be. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's. Though Cumming's book is stacked with visual masterpieces, it is her writing that most claims admiration. We see paintings in time and place no picture makes this clearer, putting us on the spot and in the moment and always in the context of our own lives. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Cumming puts it, and became the darling of society and the press.

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane. Andrew Graham-Dixon. Jonathan Harr. 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.

The Vanishing Velázquez.

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. 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.

The Vanishing Velazquez: A 19th Century Bookseller’s Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece

In truth, the book reads better than a thriller. If you're a sucker for Rome, and for dusk. It is as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to read. The Vanishing Velazquez highlights the weird nebulous world of art analysis and criticism while delivering an impressive mystery tale about the identity of a painting, its creator, and the life of the man who helped bring a missing masterpiece to light.

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Cumming accomplishes a lot in less than three hundred pages, not only providing a timeline of the mystery itself and the life of Velazquez, but building a profile of Velazquez as an artist and helping the reader to understand his work both through modern eyes and in the time of the intrepid John Snare, the virtual unknown who championed the Velazquez painting that serves as the centerpiece of the narrative.

And the true highlight of the book?

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The introduction, a magnificent, heartfelt paean to the immensely personal, transformative nature of art, and how a piece can speak to you in a vulnerable moment. After editing at City Book Review for a few years, I took up the duties of editorial assistant, which include assigning books for review, posting reviews to our various sites, and nagging reviewers for things.

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My answer to every book-related question: read Octavia Butler. This is one of the few places where the book also derails.

A Restored Velázquez, A Velázquez Restored

The courtroom scenes become a plague of residences and names to keep track of — at one point, Ms. Cumming notes that there was not one Earl of Fife to consider in this case, but three Please no, I thought — and you cannot help wondering, ever so briefly, if Ms.

Five Days Gone

When one obsessive writes about another, it sometimes means you get obsession squared. But the book soon works loose from its rut.

Only his beloved painting remained. Between the summer of and the fall of , he abandoned his wife and four children and headed for New York, where he would show the painting at various venues along Broadway until it was no longer novel. He died in lonely exile. What Ms.