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The Lost Painting

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In August 1990, an art restorer named Sergio Benedetti discovered an authentic Caravaggio painting — only 60 or so are known to still exist — propped against a bookcase in a Jesuit residence in Dublin. The discovery is the crux of Jonathan Harr’s slight follow-up, The Lost Painting, to 1995’s A Civil Action. Harr is a smooth writer, but some of his novelistic detail seems dubiously re-created (how can he know his subject ate an ”antipasto of mixed seafood marinated in olive oil and lemon juice” at lunch over a decade ago?). And art students combing through musty painting inventories isn’t especially gripping, at least compared to the painter’s own life story, which gets glancing treatment.

The Lost Painting
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