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Evening Book Group: The Lost Painting

book cover shows detail of an oil painting with one robed person's hand on the shoulder of another. Both are wearing red garments and the background is dark. .

The SBPL Evening Book Group meets on the 4th Thursday of every month. Enjoy a stimulating conversation about books and exchange perspectives about characters and plot while getting to know your neighbors. Join us in November as we talk about The Lost Painting, by 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. 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 died young, alone, and under strange circumstances. Caravaggio scholars estimate that between sixty and eighty of his works are in existence today. Many others 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.

An art history mystery, The Economist called this book "as perfect a work of narrative nonfiction as you could ever hope to read."

This book is available to borrow from the library. Book group reserve copies will be available one month ahead of the discussion. Discussion will be hybrid, with in-person and Zoom options.

Email sbplprograms@southburlingtonvt.gov or call 802-846-4140 if you have questions or would like to be added to the email list for this group.

The Library is ADA accessible, patrons are asked to call (802) 846-4140 in advance if special services are required.

Masks may be worn in the library and at any library program.