Stealing the Mystic Lamb

Stealing the Mystic Lamb

The True Story of the World's Most Coveted Masterpiece

Book - 2010
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Jan van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece is on any art historian's list of the ten most important paintings ever made. Often referred to by the subject of its central panel, The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, it represents the fulcrum between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. It is also the most frequently stolen artwork of all time.

Since its completion in 1432, this twelve-panel oil painting has been looted in three different wars, burned, dismembered, forged, smuggled, illegally sold, 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, art historian Noah Charney unravels the stories of each of these thefts. In the process, he illuminates the whole fascinating history of art crime, and the psychological, ideological, religious, political, and social motivations that have led many men to covet this one masterpiece above all others.

Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, c2010
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9781586488000
Branch Call Number: 759.9493 C483s 2010
Characteristics: xiv, 318 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm


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rsmbarlow Aug 22, 2014

This was a great book to read after seeing the Ghent Altarpiece this summer. The author's style is engaging and informative. He also does a great job of providing background and context for 21st century viewers of the altarpiece.

Jun 29, 2012

For reasons that remain obscure to me, Van Eyck's Ghent altarpiece is the world's most stolen art object. (See it here: It's intricate and sparkly. I must say, though, Van Eyck's God looks So Over It.) Tastes in art aside, Stealing the Mystic Lamb is a lively story of war, thieves, religion, and rotten Nazis.


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