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The Raphael Affair (Art History Mystery) by…
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The Raphael Affair (Art History Mystery) (original 1990; edition 2001)

by Iain Pears (Author)

Series: Jonathan Argyll (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9332516,440 (3.4)70
Set in Rome, The Raphael Affair features the perpetually beset General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad; his glamorous assistant, Flavia di Stefano; and Jonathan Argyll, a British art historian. When Jonathan is arrested for breaking into an obscure church in Rome, he claims that it contains a long-lost Raphael hidden under a painting by Mantini. The painting disappears?then reappears in the hands of the top British art dealer, Edward Byrnes. How has Byrnes found out about the hidden masterpiece, and whom is he acting for? There is also the curious matter of the safety-deposit box full of sketches closely resembling features of the newly discovered painting. A hideous act of vandalism occurs, then murder. Bottando faces the most critical challenge of his career, and Jonathan and Flavia find themselves in unexpected danger.… (more)
Member:therealdelia
Title:The Raphael Affair (Art History Mystery)
Authors:Iain Pears (Author)
Info:Berkley (2001), Edition: Reissue, 257 pages
Collections:Your library
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The Raphael Affair by Iain Pears (1990)

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» See also 70 mentions

English (21)  French (4)  All languages (25)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
#1 Art History mystery. Set primarily in Rome (& Siena) Italy

Jonathan Argyll, graduate art student thinks he has found a Raphael that has been painted over for 200 years. Back and forth, back and forth, twists and turns - and I learned so much about art!

I'll definitely look for more of this series. ( )
  ParadisePorch | Jul 30, 2019 |
I enjoyed the flow of the sentences. Some love, some humor, some art, some setting: all what I look for in a mystery. I might read another! ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
Iain Pears wrote two of my favourite literary novel. With the majestic Stone’s Fall, he essentially redefined the historical novel, while his The Dream of Scipio features three parallel storylines that seamlessly transcend a span of nearly two thousand years.

Before ascending to those lofty pinnacles of literary fiction, Pears had been an art historian and journalist, and he drew upon that background to write a series of highly entertaining crime novels set in and around the world of the fine arts in Italy. As a simple country boy, this is far from my own comfort area, most of my knowledge of great art having been garnered through the medium of biscuit tin lids or gift calendars, with a distant and hazy recollection of the odd school trip to a local gallery (generally conspicuous by their absence in North Leicestershire during my childhood). That could not matter less, however, as Pears is highly informative without ever seeming to preach to, or patronise, [‘Patronise! Now that’s a good word … and you used it correctly too.’] his readers.

In this first volume in the series, graduate student Jonathan Argyll has been on the trail of a missing Raphael. We tend to think of state restrictions on the export of items of national heritage as a relatively recent phenomenon, but it is a well-established trait. Argyll’s researches revolve around an attempt conspiracy during the eighteenth century to smuggle a Raphael owned by a noble, yet poverty stricken, Italian family out to a wealthy English purchaser. The particular modus operandi selected was to have the old master carefully varnished and then painted over by a lesser artist, with a view to subsequent delicate restoration by the new owners a few years later. Unfortunately, having succumbed to temptation to sidestep the regulations by underhand means, the prospective purchaser then found himself double-crossed, being fobbed off with a [perfectly charming yet relatively valueless painting by the lesser artist, while the disguised Raphael disappeared.

Argyll’s researches appear to have been vindicated when the painting he believes to be the missing and disguised Raphael is bought from under his nose just days before he can formally identify it. The purchaser, esteemed art dealer Edward Byrnes has the painting cleaned and what purports to be a hitherto unknown Raphael is duly discovered. It is eventually sold through one of the prominent London auction houses for a world record sum, being bought by the Italian government. But that is just the start of the fun, and a string of crimes is unleashed, stretching from an act of grotesque artistic vandalism to fraud and even murder. All of this is watched, initially with bemusement but then with growing concern and horror by General Bottando, head of Italy’s Art Theft Squad, and his glamorous and gifted assistant, Flavia di Stafano.

Written with an appealing lightness of touch, this is a highly entertaining crime novel, that blends valuable insight in to the foibles, peccadilloes and fragile egos of the art world with a perfectly plausible plot, a delightfully evocative Italian setting and some highly empathetic characters. ( )
2 vote Eyejaybee | Jun 23, 2018 |
Poco plausibile, superfluo.

[audiolibro]
( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
The plot is ok and characters are likeable, except for the main one, Argyll. I've found him to have less characterisation than Flavia or her boss, Bottando, and he looks too much like a comic relief you would find in movies: he is just being "silly" in general. I take him as a wimp, somewhat. I do not think I'll read anymore by the same author, unless I have nothing else to sink my teeth into, or maybe as a summer read. This is a pity, because the plot could have been further developped, with maybe less satellite characters and more narrative tension. Meh. ( )
  soniaandree | Jan 25, 2017 |
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Generale Taddeo Bottando walked up the staircase covered in stolen works of art slightly before the bell of San Ignazio struck seven in the morning, as usual.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Set in Rome, The Raphael Affair features the perpetually beset General Bottando of the Italian National Art Theft Squad; his glamorous assistant, Flavia di Stefano; and Jonathan Argyll, a British art historian. When Jonathan is arrested for breaking into an obscure church in Rome, he claims that it contains a long-lost Raphael hidden under a painting by Mantini. The painting disappears?then reappears in the hands of the top British art dealer, Edward Byrnes. How has Byrnes found out about the hidden masterpiece, and whom is he acting for? There is also the curious matter of the safety-deposit box full of sketches closely resembling features of the newly discovered painting. A hideous act of vandalism occurs, then murder. Bottando faces the most critical challenge of his career, and Jonathan and Flavia find themselves in unexpected danger.

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