The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel

Front Cover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 5, 2016 - Fiction - 304 pages
698 Reviews

“Written in prose so clear that we absorb its images as if by mind meld, “The Last Painting” is gorgeous storytelling: wry, playful, and utterly alive, with an almost tactile awareness of the emotional contours of the human heart. Vividly detailed, acutely sensitive to stratifications of gender and class, it’s fiction that keeps you up at night — first because you’re barreling through the book, then because you’ve slowed your pace to a crawl, savoring the suspense.” —Boston Globe

A New York Times Bestseller

A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

A RARE SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY PAINTING LINKS THREE LIVES, ON THREE CONTINENTS, OVER THREE CENTURIES IN THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS, AN EXHILARATING NEW NOVEL FROM DOMINIC SMITH.

Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.

New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.

Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
255
4 stars
284
3 stars
130
2 stars
24
1 star
5

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Limelite - LibraryThing

Beautifully written and complex in its construction, this novel is packed with interesting details about how to forge paintings of the Dutch School. While definitely intellectually engaging, what the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - krazy4katz - LibraryThing

An interesting novel about a woman who works as an art restorer and somehow gets drawn into a forgery project. The story goes back and forth in time between the 1600s, when the original painter was ... Read full review

All 8 reviews »

Selected pages

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2016)

Dominic Smith grew up in Australia and now lives in Austin, Texas. He’s the author of three other novels: Bright and Distant Shores, The Beautiful Miscellaneous, and The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in The Atlantic, Texas Monthly, and the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal, among other publications. He is the recipient of a new works grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and a Michener Fellowship. He teaches writing in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Bibliographic information