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Lost Art: The Stories of Missing Masterpieces

Join a leading authority on the history of art crime to explore the stories of artworks that have disappeared (and sometimes reappeared) across the centuries, from the ancient world to the 21st century.
Lost Art: The Stories of Missing Masterpieces is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 28.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting but too short The course is interesting, but really, too short. We know of so many lost artworks, and yet we could only come up with a few lectures on this vast subject? All the art the Nazis destroyed outright or that ended up stolen and kept in private collections. More please.
Date published: 2024-04-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good lecture series but some facts missing Overall, good lecture series - interesting topic, well-presented. However, I was surprised that the lecturer didn't even mention the two most famous losses in art history - Rembrandt's Danae - badly damaged, almost lost in 1985 at Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg and the Notre-Dame cathedral fire in 2019. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this course. Thank you!
Date published: 2024-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deep Knowledge and Very Interesting We are not art historians but were very impressed with Noah's deep knowledge of the world of lost art. His presentation style was great - clear and engaging without being condescending or stuffy. The breadth of the course exceeded our expectations. I would highly recommend this course to anyone even slight interested in the subject.
Date published: 2024-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was skeptical--then got hooked. I was very skeptical that this would be any good. I've seen any number of 'true crime art heist' and they almost always turn out to be breathless narratives about very mundane thieves; I feared that this would be lecture after lecture of the same. But I watched one lecture and I was hooked. There was nothing breathless here: just an intelligent presentation of the many ways in which artistic treasures have been lost to history. Each episode kept me interested, left me much better informed, and made me feel sad about the great loss. Ignore the people who say his pronunciation is off. Once in a while, perhaps, but I think those reviewers should check their own pronunciations before casting stones. I recommend this highly.
Date published: 2024-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved everything about this. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and liked so much about it. The framing (no pun intended) of the material is unique, the presenter's style is relaxed and engaging, and the pacing is very good. I enjoyed the changing backgrounds for the lectures, I was both entertained and learned something, which is the point. So there's this one-star review below. The person is certainly entitled to their opinion, but it seems a little extreme to one star a course based on their objections. OK, so he says Vermeer to rhyme with "gear" instead of "hair." So did my college art professor and the curator of our state art museum. And given this presenter lives in Europe, I'm not bent out of the frame at how he pronounces Louvre either. As for the amount of art thefts perpetrated by terrorists, like many things, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. As the presenter said, we can only know about what can be documented, and I doubt too many terrorists are bragging about their heists. (Maybe he should have brought up how much art theft and smuggling was perpetrated by Hobby Lobby and their bunch if you really want to get into it. That was pretty well documented. )
Date published: 2023-11-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting course and unusual topic - intriguing I liked this course because it was unique and unusual. I've never seen a course on this topic before, and the lecturer is an interesting presenter and has some unusual insights into this area. I was particularly interested in teh sessions on art theft and forgery - some of the others, about lost art or art works which ever existed, were a bit less interesting. But still, definitely a good addition to the courses.
Date published: 2023-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was surprisingly hooked! Before this course, I wasn't super interested in art, especially Middle Ages or Renaissance European art. I didn't think I'd watch this course all the way through, but it turns out I flew through it in about two days. It was engaging, and interesting and I now find myself caring for and appreciating art throughout the ages that I hadn't appreciated before.
Date published: 2023-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just loved this. We had such fun learning about the missing art. There were many things I did not even know existed. Art History lecture supreme. Just love having Wondrium to learn from.
Date published: 2023-10-07
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Overview

Imagine a Museum of Lost Art. If this imaginary museum contained just the artwork we knew was lost—whether from theft, purposeful destruction, vandalism, war, or the forces of nature—it would still contain more masterpieces than those in all the world’s current museums combined. In Lost Art: The Stories of Missing Masterpieces, art historian Noah Charney guides you through just such an imaginary museum. In 12 fascinating lectures accompanied by stunning graphics, you will learn the stories behind the theft and/or destruction of some of the world’s most famous pieces of art.

About

Noah Charney

Just as we should not forget history since it has passed, or loved ones who have passed away, so too we must keep lost art and monuments in our thoughts as we study history.

Noah Charney is a writer and art historian who specializes in the study of art crime and forgeries. He has taught at Yale University, Brown University, the American University of Rome, and the University of Ljubljana. He is the best-selling author of more than 20 books, and his works have been translated into 14 languages. He founded the Association for Research into Crimes against Art and is a teacher in its Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection.

By This Expert

Lost Art: The Stories of Missing Masterpieces
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Lost Art: The Stories of Missing Masterpieces

Trailer

Welcome to the Museum of Lost Art

01: Welcome to the Museum of Lost Art

Discover some of the most important works that would be located in an imaginary “Museum of Lost Art.” Learn about The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, one of the most famous pieces of art in Europe when completed in 1432. But in the subsequent 600 years, it has been the victim of 13 different crimes, and, thus, constantly in and out of that imaginary museum.

31 min
Hall of Heists: Thieves and the Art They Steal

02: Hall of Heists: Thieves and the Art They Steal

Annually, in Italy alone, 20,000–30,000 works of art are reported stolen. The US Department of Justice ranks art crime as the third highest-grossing criminal trade. Who steals art, and what do they really want from it? Learn about some of the most famous art heists in history, from Goya’s Portrait of the Duke of Wellington to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

30 min
The Mob Wing: Organized Crime in Stolen Art

03: The Mob Wing: Organized Crime in Stolen Art

Most art theft involves organized crime at some step along the route—stolen art being much more difficult to trace than bank accounts and electronic transfers. Discover the mob connections to the still unsolved mystery of 1969 of the stolen Nativity by Caravaggio, and the 13 works stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.

29 min
Gallery of Fakes: Forgeries and Attribution

04: Gallery of Fakes: Forgeries and Attribution

Learn about the relationship between connoisseurship, provenance, and forensics. Can forensics alone—even using the latest technology—accurately identify authentic paintings from those that are forged by a great student of the master? Or does the answer still come down to opinion, as it did with A City on a Rock by “Goya”?

30 min
The War Wing: Art Plundered through Conflict

05: The War Wing: Art Plundered through Conflict

Explore the long and troubled relationship between war and art destruction—from the 212 BCE Roman army’s defeat and looting of the Greek city of Siracusa to the 2022 Russian destruction of the Kuindzhi Art Museum in Mariupol, Ukraine. Learn about Hitler’s Altaussee art cache and the complicated issue of art repatriation from WWII.

30 min
The Hall of Vandals: Wreckers and Iconoclasts

06: The Hall of Vandals: Wreckers and Iconoclasts

Learn about the difference between iconoclasm and vandalism regarding the destruction of art. Can acts of iconoclasm be justified if the perpetrator doesn’t consider the piece to be “art”? What about modern-day destruction of a statue of a despised dictator? Explore many acts of religious iconoclasm, including the 2001 destruction of the 16th-century Buddha Statues at Bamiyan by the Taliban.

30 min
Gallery of Misfortune: Art Lost by Accident

07: Gallery of Misfortune: Art Lost by Accident

Much of art is fragile and can be destroyed in an instant by various types of accidents—from a museum visitor tripping over his shoelaces at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge in 2006 and falling into a Ming dynasty vase to fires or shipwrecks. Learn about the great fire of 1698 at Whitehall Palace in London that destroyed works by Michelangelo, Holbein, and Bernini.

29 min
Disaster Wing: Art against the Forces of Nature

08: Disaster Wing: Art against the Forces of Nature

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE, an estimated 1.5 million tons of lava and ash were spewed over the nearby landscape every second. In addition to people and animals, the eruption smothered uncounted paintings, frescoes, and other artworks, lost for 18 centuries—lost and preserved. Learn about art damage from earthquakes, lightning, and floods, and how some art has been salvaged.

32 min
No Bequest: Art Destroyed by Artists and Owners

09: No Bequest: Art Destroyed by Artists and Owners

Michelangelo destroyed scores of his own in-progress drawings to make sure no one knew how hard he had to work on a piece. Botticelli sacrificed his own works to Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities in a fit of piety. And other artists destroy their own “imperfect” pieces in sheer frustration. Explore this unusual phenomenon that keeps us from enjoying countless numbers of artistic works we otherwise would have had today.

28 min
The Basement: Strange and Unsolved Cases

10: The Basement: Strange and Unsolved Cases

Explore the stories of many lost artworks for which we have no acceptable explanation. And learn about strange “one-off” situations such as The Rescue by American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who said it “depicted the triumph of the whites over the savage tribes.” Previously located at the US Capitol, a joint resolution to the House recommended the statue “be ground into dust and scattered to the four winds.”

29 min
Not in the Vault: Fabled Art That Never Was

11: Not in the Vault: Fabled Art That Never Was

What happened to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Leonardo’s Medusa Shield, and the Three Sacred Treasures of Japan? Or is it they simply never existed at all? Explore the many theories about these items, as well as the possibly fabled cities of El Dorado and Atlantis, and other items of modern times. Were they purely imaginary or were they partly real? And will we ever know with certainty?

30 min
Lost and Found: Preserving and Restoring Art

12: Lost and Found: Preserving and Restoring Art

The good news is that lost art does not have to stay lost forever. Art can now be digitally reproduced with no ill effects to the original piece, which now allows us to enjoy detailed replicas of items such as 36,000-year-old paintings. Learn about the amazing, full-sized, precise replica of the French Chauvet Cave painting. Museums worldwide have digitized artwork to make tens of thousands of pieces available to all of us.

34 min