The Art Forger is based on the 1990 theft at the Isabella Gardner Museum of 13 paintings, including 3 Rembrandts and works by Vermeer, Manet, and Degas. The works were worth over $500 million and the crime remains unsolved.
In the novel, Claire Roth has had an unfortunate incident early in her career as an artist and must paints reproductions for an online art dealer.
When approached Aidan Markel, a gallery owner, to paint a forgery of one of the stolen paintings from the Isabella Gardener Museum in exchange for a show at Markel' s gallery, Claire is reluctant. Eventually persuaded by Markel's arguments that the forgery would also help return the original to the museum, Claire agrees to forge the painting.
When the painting is delivered to her studio, she is awed by the idea of having an original Degas at her finger tips. Yet something about the painting bothers her. As she works on the forgery using the original as a model, her misgivings increase.
The technical aspect of art forgery and the intuitive way that Claire studies the painting are as interesting as the story line which has Claire suspecting that the Degas that has been hanging in the Gardner for a hundred years...is itself a forgery. If the painting is, indeed, a forgery--who painted it and when did it replace the original Degas?
Barbara Shapiro is a talented writer who brings thought-provoking suspense and three dimensional characters together in a fascinating look at the world of art and art forgery.
Shapiro taught sociology, criminology and deviance at Tufts University and now teaches creative writing at Northeastern University.
This was a Net Galley offering. I read the book in June, but have held the review.
Fiction. Mystery/Suspense. 2012. 368 pages.