Monday 23 October 2017

Lost and found: the artistic works that nearly got away

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett

Graham Clifford

Last month, a team of experts at international auction house Christies said they believed William Shakespeare's lost play, The History of Cardenio, had been found in the personal collection of a recently deceased English lord.

The 16th-Century book was discovered after the death of Humphrey McElroy, an incredibly rich baron and antiques collector from Brighton.

Its authenticity is still being established by experts, but over the centuries, lost works by the world's best-known playwrights, writers, poets, painters and composers have resurfaced in public and subsequently fetched millions at auction.

Not all missing great works have been located, however. For example, Leonardo da Vinci's The Battle of Anghiari, which is at times referred to as The Lost Leonardo, is to this day believed to be still hidden beneath one of his later frescoes in the Hall of the Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

And only last month, Samuel Beckett's novella Echo's Bones, which was meant to have been the 11th and concluding story in Beckett's early collection, More Pricks than Kicks, was published on its own by Faber & Faber on April 17.

In the end, the reviews were mixed. Which just goes to show that, sometimes, literary works are left to gather dust for a reason.

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