The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro – 360 pages
Almost twenty-five years after the infamous art heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. Claire Roth has entered into a Faustian bargain with a powerful gallery owner by agreeing to forge the Degas in exchange for a one-woman show in his renowned gallery. But as she begins her work, she starts to suspect that this long-missing masterpiece—the very one that had been hanging at the Gardner for one hundred years—may itself be a forgery. The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.
My Review: 4 stars
The Art Forger is a modern day story that delves into the real life robbery at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. This book has been on my TBR since 2012 when the book was the first published. It’s been recommended to me for years and yep, four years later I finally got to it. So many books, so little time!
I was able to dive right into this book as the whole business of art forgery, reproductions and the infamous heist was all consuming. There were a few plots at work which I’m sure made the story harder to write but easier to read. First there was the main protagonist’s tale, about her involvement in painting copies of copies. Her guilt in the aforementioned, her love interest and of course the back story of the 4D painting. Another was the historical letters from the infamous Belle Gardner to her niece Amelia that were written in such a glorious fashion. Truly seemed like they could’ve been real with the usage of language and tone. Finally the history and explanation of art was its own unique story. So much went into the painting, scraping, layering and baking that I had no clue about before this book.
I read and enjoyed The Painted Girls, which tells the story of the ladies Degas painted, so I had a little history of the man and his love of women and painting them. I suggest reading it for historical fiction reading about Degas.
This book reads quickly and I enjoyed this exciting romp through the eyes of a floundering artist. In the trailer for this book, that I highly recommend watching, the author asks the question about what one would do to secure their own ambition. She answers that question though this main character, that is such an honest person, yet can be blinded by her own dishonesty.
NOTE: I had a trip planned to go to Boston so I for sure added the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum among my list of must sees. Here are a few photos. One is the garden in the center of the museum. The next is one of the frames in which the painting had been stolen. Finally, the tour ends with this John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner herself. Breathtaking.
Quotes I liked:
…the argument is just semantics, an exercise in mental masturbation.”
-“A dangerous thing, hope, as I know all to well, but also a powerful motivator.”
-“The insanity of the artist as equal to the insanity of the collector.”
-“Without light nothing can be seen. And with it, still so much is unobserved.”