Monday, August 7, 2017

The Raphael Affair

Everyone dreams of discovering a lost work of art, but Jonathan Argyll is pretty sure he found one in Iain Pears' The Raphael Affair. While on his search in a small Roman church, Jonathan is arrested  for vagrancy. Jonathan believes the missing Raphael is hidden under the painting by Mantini, a lesser know painter above the altar at Santa Barbara church.

When General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad reads the police report detailing Jonathan's seemingly wild claim about a missing Raphael, he doesn't think much of it. His assistant Flavia di Stefano becomes interested and they visit the church only to discover that the Mantini has been sold to a well-known art dealer named Edward Byrnes. Jonathan predicts the Raphael will be "discovered" under the Mantini and there will be a huge bidding war for the painting.

Sure enough over the next months the rumors turn out to be true and
the Mantini painting is skillfully removed from the Raphael, much to the surprise and delight of the Museo Nazionale in Rome. As the winning bidder, the Italian Museum proudly displays the work. Despite all the authentication testing, Jonathan and Flavia are not convinced the Raphael is the real thing. This leads them on a quest to find the truth.

When a fire destroys the painting in the Museum, Jonathan and Flavia know they are on the right track, a track that takes them into some dangerous territory.

The subject of art fraud has always held a fascination for me and The Raphael Affair feeds that obsession. I look forward to the others in the series.

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