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A history of art using only 'lost' art

One American art historian wants to draw attention to the thousands of artistic masterpieces that have gone missing. Noah Charney is the founder of the virtual museum of lost art which highlights ten works of art which are lost forever including pieces by Michelangelo, da Vinci and Caravaggio. And the most expensive item, valued at £200m, is the Amber Room of the Catherine Palace near St Petersburg. VoR's Brendan Cole asked Noah Charney to explain what was behind his idea.

Charney said: “There’s a project that I’ve been working on for some time, both for television and for a book, and the idea is that it would be a sort of illustrated history of art, but using only lost works. When we study art history, we tend to look at the 200 most famous or influential works that are extent. For logistically obvious reasons we tend to overlook works that during their existence were often more famous than works that we study today, but which have been lost or destroyed or stolen.

"And the idea would be to tell that history of art as a sort of a negative space portrait; to look at the works that we cannot access, but each of which has an amazing life story – wildly influential and was often more famous when it was existent than works that have reached us today.”

What are some of the key works that should be highlighted?

Charney explained: “A lot of them are from the ancient world. The Parthenon Athena is probably on most archaeologists’ wish list that they would love to be able to see. Also, buildings which have been destroyed - we think of statues like the Parthenon Athena or the Colossus of Rhodes or the golden statue of Nero that was by the Coliseum. Those things would be wonderful to see again. “