Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World’s Most Coveted Masterpiece
Language: English. Brand new Book. Since its completion in , this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, censored, hidden, attacked by iconoclasts, hunted by the Nazis and Napoleon, used as a diplomatic tool, ransomed, rescued by Austrian double-agents and stolen a total of thirteen times. In this fast-paced, real-life thriller, acclaimed art historian Noah Charney unravels the fascinating stories of each of these crimes. Charney also explores psychological dramas that lurk within the history of art crime - and the ideological, religious, political and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.
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Noah Charney. Publisher: PublicAffairs , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. The references at the end are kind of cursory; I'd have preferred footnotes and more details about sources. The published version will include color pictures of the painting, which my advance copy lacked. View all 6 comments. Mar 01, Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: history , nonfiction-general , art. I wasn't sure I would like this book.
When I visit art museums, I enter rooms of medieval art more from a sense of duty than from love. I picked it up anyway, because of the compelling list on the dust jacket, of torments the Ghent Altarpiece has endured and survived: it's been stolen 13 times, and that's the least of the dangers it has faced. I'm so glad I read this book. Charney's enthusiasm for art and history is infectious. I used to think the paintings hanging on museum walls had, somehow, a I wasn't sure I would like this book.
I used to think the paintings hanging on museum walls had, somehow, always been right where they were, there to be learned from and enjoyed by all. But the book showed me that many of the works of art we see today are hardy survivors. He opened my eyes to the stories of art and gave me a whole new way to appreciate what I see, not just for its beauty or how it speaks to my soul, but for its story as a physical object that has stood the test of time. Apr 18, Scott Graham rated it really liked it. Charney does a marvelous job describing the creation and survival of what I consider to be the finest painting in Western Civilization.
Describing how such a large and heavy masterpiece could be stolen, forged, hidden, threatened with destruction and ransomed was a fascinating eye opener to me. The piece has been stolen 13 times; nothing else even comes close. I thought the book dragged a bit before it reached the climax of the Nazis attempt to loot the piece - it was discovered in a salt mine Charney does a marvelous job describing the creation and survival of what I consider to be the finest painting in Western Civilization. I thought the book dragged a bit before it reached the climax of the Nazis attempt to loot the piece - it was discovered in a salt mine in Austria near the end of the war - but all in all it is a great introduction to the role fine art plays in cultural, national, and spiritual history.
Mar 04, Marie rated it it was amazing Shelves: artist-reads. I loved this historical narrative. It reads like a novel and explains in fascinating terms, the history of the Ghent Alterpiece The Mystic Lamb , along with the fate of the multitudes of artworks plundered and looted by the Nazi's during WWII. The role of the Monuments Men, along with Resistance fighters is made even clearer, even though there is doubt about who the real heroes were. The fact that so much art was preserved is the important fact. I'll never look at art in a museum again without I loved this historical narrative.
I'll never look at art in a museum again without wondering who plundered and looted it from who resulted in me being able to view it at that particular moment. If you love art, history, war strategy and mystery you should read this book! Interesting but Uneven Although the subject matter is very interesting, it seems more like a compilation of articles than cohesive book. Jan 09, Lee Anne rated it it was ok.
Stealing the Mystic Lamb
The Ghent altarpiece is my favorite painting, and I will see it in person someday. This book, while interesting in theory, can be repetitive, too bogged down in digression, and just plain dull at times.
- 3 promising books for October.
- Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece.
- Stealing the Mystic Lamb: The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece by Noah Charney!
There was already an entire bo The Ghent altarpiece is my favorite painting, and I will see it in person someday. There was already an entire book about the Monuments Men as well as a movie ; if I wanted to read over 80 pages on their antics, I would have read that book. The earlier chapters, which focus on the history of the painting, and its previous adventures, are much more interesting.
Oct 14, Stella rated it liked it. Listened to the audiobook. First, the narrator was awful - read in a flat, even tone. Second, this book is WAY too long for what it purports to cover. Had I wanted an art history lesson, I would have picked a definitive authority on the subject. Also, I found there was a good deal of overlap with the Monuments Men story, but I guess that cannot be avoided, considering the topic. The book had its moments, and I did learn a lot.
But I cannot recommend this as a good read. Jan 17, Alarie rated it it was ok Shelves: history , art. This book covers the importance of The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck to the world of art and its many adventures as the most coveted, most often stolen art in the world. They hype says it reads like a thriller, but it reads more like an academic treatise.
A mystery writer would have chosen which details matter to keep the book moving. Instead we get bogged down in the confusing maze of who did what and the many false leads detectives have to deal with all the time. I did enjoy the photographs This book covers the importance of The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck to the world of art and its many adventures as the most coveted, most often stolen art in the world. I did enjoy the photographs and some of the art discussion. Less would have been more for me. Nov 25, Mjmiyargmail. In the interim I read The Monuments Men which was riveting.
I may have been the only person to enjoy George Clooney's movie, so much did I enjoy the book. I found some annoyances in Charney's style: repetitions, imprecissions why does he say in page that Kirstein had passable German when in he says that he barely spoke the language?
It's a good read on a marvelous subject. Aug 02, Steve rated it liked it. Good story about the long history of the Ghent Altarpiece and the many attempts to steal it over the centuries. Has lengthy background-setting about art as wartime booty. I did find a few passages less than riveting. And more seriously, Charney isn't as fluent with Church matters as someone writing about sacred art housed in a cathedral should be. Still, it Good story about the long history of the Ghent Altarpiece and the many attempts to steal it over the centuries. Still, it's a good story and not many other people are telling it!
Aug 24, Raine Baushke rated it really liked it.
This book didn't hold my interest, although it is well-written. The author is a professor of art history and this reads like a rather dry lecture. The high-quality research is the backbone of this non-fiction book detailing the true story of Jan van Eyck's stolen Ghent Altarpiece. Apparently it has disappeared thirteen times. Jun 06, Steve rated it liked it. This book was full of interesting information and stories, but what a slog! It seems that the author is not one to say a thing once when five or six times will do.
And he gets into minute detail just because he has it, not to advance the story. This book can be repetitive, presumptuous, and a little too college-thesis-y. Somewhere in the middle of chapter two I almost tossed it.
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Will re-read some chapters before my next trip to Belgium, for sure. Aug 13, Donna rated it really liked it.
Stealing the Mystic Lamb by Noah Charney
I really enjoyed this story. There is nothing like a real unsolved mystery, and this one involves one of the greatest works of art that exists. This book tells an incredible story. I can't wait to go to Ghent someday and see the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb in person. May 28, Rachel rated it it was ok. A fascinating story not so fascinatingly told. Aug 18, Cynthia rated it liked it.
I really liked it and recommend it for writers at all levels. Beautiful story! Loved this historical narrative, that explains in fascinating terms, the history of The Mystic Lamb, along with the fate of the multitudes of artworks plundered and looted by the Nazi's during WWII. I'll never look at art in a museum again without wondering who plundered and lo Beautiful story! Nov 05, Ann rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , art-history.
Mona Lisa, Shmona Lisa. The most important oil painting in art history is not the smiling seductress from the Louvre, but a monumental altarpiece painted by Flemish artist Jan Van Eyck, whose rightful place is a chapel in a Gothic cathedral in the Beglian city of Ghent. The painting has had a tormented history that will fascinate anyone with an interest in art history or the history of Western Europe. Some of the other reviewers have commented that the author digresses on numerous occasions.
Tha Mona Lisa, Shmona Lisa. That is true, but I personally found these digressions interesting. A too focused narrative would have failed to situate the painting in its proper artistic, religious or historical context. I actually found the changes in pace refreshing.
We start out with a thorough discussion of the significance of the painting. I knew that the painting was considered to mark the transition from the stylized Medieval way of painting to Renaissance realism, but I had not appreciated, for instance, that it contained numerous religious allegories,symbols and other coded references that only an erudite scholar could interpret. Then the author discusses the circumstances in which the painting came into being.
The political and religious climate of the day, the life of the painter, even the life of the wealthy merchant who commissioned the painting. And then the roller coaster begins.
Saint Bavo Cathedral will probably never be robbed again, but art theft continues to make headlines today. In , Charney founded the first organization to focus exclusively on art crime, the Association for Research into Crimes against Art. Currently professor of art history at the American University of Rome, he lives in Italy with his wife. Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know. Sending Mail. Sending Successful. The First Art Newspaper on the Net.