Old Masters in Montreal?

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My August beach book was The Lost Painting, by Jonathan Harr, which sounds too high-brow to mix with tanning butter but is actually a compelling mystery about the rediscovery of a long-lost Caravaggio. The painting — a masterpiece — had been taken to the U.K. by a 19th century English aristocrat, whose heirs (believing it to be by a lesser artist) sold it at auction for a pittance in the 1920s. Art historians had been scouring Europe for the painting, when it serendipitiously turned up in a Dublin religious house.

What does this have to do with Montreal? Some other priceless Caravaggios disappeared in France long ago, and in a country full of art historians, no one has ever uncovered them. That makes me to wonder if any might have made their way to the New World… And where more likely than Quebec?

Stranger things have happened. Last year I interviewed a dealer of Inuit and Northwest Coast art who told me that some of his best finds were in Scotland and England — because colonial administrators had taken the artworks back home with them as souvenirs.

I’m going to look MUCH more carefully at the paintings in my local Cathedrals now, and you should too. Who knows what might be lurking in a shadowy corner, covered in dust?

1 Comment so far

  1. Frank (unregistered) on August 30th, 2006 @ 3:45 pm

    The basement of Marie Reine du Monde has a ton of old statues and maybe some paintings. (Plus they have a basketball court painted on the floor for some reason). Most if not all of the works are religious in nature, but as you said, who knows what is hiding in the corners. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public, but maybe the someone in the rectory will grant you access.

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