Almost twenty-five years after the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s infamous art heist—still the largest unsolved art theft in history—one of the stolen Degas paintings is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist named Claire Roth. Claire, whose reputation has been tarnished by scandal and who now makes her living reproducing famous works of art for a popular online retailer, has entered into a Faustian bargain with Aiden Markel, a powerful gallery owner. She agrees 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.
As Claire searches for the truth about the painting’s origins, she finds herself in a desperate race through a labyrinth of trapdoors, dead ends, and deceit, where secrets hidden since the late nineteenth century may be the only evidence that can save her from incrimination. Blending art history with passions of the heart, B. A. Shapiro allows us to smell the oil paint, see the brush strokes, feel the artist’s ambition and the collector’s fanaticism. As she explores the ingenious techniques of forgery and reimagines historical relationships, she reveals both the beauty of the artist’s vision and the ugliness the desire for great art can unleash.
The Art Forger is a thrilling novel about seeing—and not seeing—the secrets that lie beneath the canvas.
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Lisa C. says:
"I met the author at a recent conference and I really enjoyed The Art Forger. It is the story of a artist Clair Roth - who had a rough break in her past and is now painting reproductions of well-known works to make ends meet. She longs to do her own work and become recognized for her talent. The owner of the Markel G gallery comes to her door and asks her to do a reproduction of a Degas. The catch is that it is a Degas that was stolen during the 1990 Gardner Museum heist in Boston. Claire realizes there is way more to the story which can only be answered by Isabelle Gardner herself. Since Isabelle is gone and left no letters or papers, Claire has to use her expertise in Degas to sort out the mystery.
Shapiro does a great job with developing the characters, and explaining the art world and its seedy side. I really enjoyed the book and it made me want to read more on the Gardner Museum heist - which has yet to be solved. It's always a good thing when a book leaves you wanting to read more."