The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos

A Novel

Book - 2016
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"This is what we long for: the profound pleasure of being swept into vivid new worlds, worlds peopled by characters so intriguing and real that we can't shake them, even long after the reading's done. In his earlier, award-winning novels, Dominic Smith demonstrated a gift for coaxing the past to life. Now, in The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, he deftly bridges the historical and the contemporary, tracking a collision course between a rare landscape by a female Dutch painter of the golden age, an inheritor of the work in 1950s Manhattan, and a celebrated art historian who painted a forgery of it in her youth. In 1631, Sara de Vos is admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke's in Holland, the first woman to be so recognized. Three hundred years later, only one work attributed to de Vos is known to remain--a haunting winter scene, At the Edge of a Wood, which hangs over the bed of a wealthy descendant of the original owner. An Australian grad student, Ellie Shipley, struggling to stay afloat in New York, agrees to paint a forgery of the landscape, a decision that will haunt her. Because now, half a century later, she's curating an exhibit of female Dutch painters, and both versions threaten to arrive. As the three threads intersect, The Last Painting of Sara de Vos mesmerizes while it grapples with the demands of the artistic life, showing how the deceits of the past can forge the present"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Sarah Crichton Books,, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374106683
Characteristics: 290 pages ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

August 2017 "Half a century after reluctantly painting a forgery of the only surviving work by a seventeenth-century female Dutch artist, Ellie Shipley curates an exhibit of women Dutch painters and risks exposure when both the original and her forgery arrive."

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Nov 14, 2020

A deep, evocative read that even those who aren't into art history will enjoy. Smith's prose, especially in describing the various paintings, is poetic and beautiful. The novel switches between three time periods and three protagonists, the 17th century artist Sarah De Vos, Marty De Groot, whose family has owned her only known work for over three centuries, and Ellie Shipley, art student turned forger turned art history professor. Historical, lyrical and beautifully written.

Jul 27, 2020

The author weaves three plot lines from 1650, 1950, and 2000 in this very feminist novel involving fine art forgery.

Jan 12, 2019

Could have enjoyed much more without all the lengthy descriptions of men thinking about the smell of women's body parts...and women thinking about the smell of their children in many different scenarios. And the moistness associated with these smells and on and on.

The plot was interesting and the details about painting in different eras was interesting if you could plow through all these unnecessary descriptions, which I think are supposed to be lyrical but are lost on me.

Nov 01, 2018

Favourite book for 2017/2018 - historic and present. Life of Dutch painter and life in the 1650s. Ellie an art history student living in NY, disenchanted with her life, dabbles in restoration work that leads to more in the 1950s, successful curators role at University in Australia in the 2000s - all comes together.

Jun 30, 2017

This is carefully constructed novel that includes intrigue, drama, and a little art history. The characters are memorable, and I loved the way the author chose to end this story. The story prompted me to think about how we place value on things as well as how we value our lives. I recommend this book for a great summertime read.

JCLMaryanaK Feb 03, 2017

Weaving between 1630's Netherlands, 1950's New York City and Sydney in the year 2000, Smith reveals the mystery behind an art theft/forgery and the life of the artist. Although the painting and painter are fictional, the author stays true to the historical facts of the Dutch art scene of that era, making Sara De Vos and "at the edge of a wood" feel real. Smith excelled at building up the world around his characters and bringing paintings to life. Art, artists, and the art world all play a strong role, but the heart of the story is about forgiveness and letting go of the past. For anyone looking for a read-alike for Donna Tarte's "The Goldfinch", I recommend you give this book a try.

Jan 21, 2017

A well written Book; I'm an art lover and especially like the Dutch paintings from that period. Oh mine, the description of the fictional painting and the characters is so real and nicely crafted. The plot is not that predictable, which I I appreciate. How fine is the editing which the author have performed well like a finely detail masterpiece.

Jan 04, 2017

An unusual book, combining a bit of historical fiction centering around Fine Arts along with a bit of a caper story with some rather off-beat romance thrown in.
I found it an easy-going, enjoyable. It offered a number of cogent insightful observations on the unpredictability of human relations, the unintended consequences that can result from acts of deception, the startling affects of beauty upon the human psyche. Also, it was simply a cleverly conceived story. My main quibble is that I felt Smith's development of Ellie's character and her motivations, especially early in the book were a bit sketchy. Hence, a bit short of 4 stars.

Bunny_Watson716 Dec 12, 2016

I really enjoyed how this was both contemporary and historical fiction, and I loved the element of an imagined, undiscovered female Dutch master painter.

Nov 07, 2016

One of the best fiction books about art in recent years. Read it, you won't be disappointed.

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