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The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro

The Art Forger (2012)

by B. A. Shapiro

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Very well researched and very well written. Once I was halfway through, I couldn't put it down. ( )
  CYGeeker | Sep 6, 2018 |
A quick, sly thief of a book. I will be passing this along to someone, very soon. Claire Roth is not a very good heroine, she is flat and gives no sense of self - that empty narrator you fill with yourself. Otherwise, wonderful. ( )
  adaorhell | Aug 24, 2018 |
I confess to being wrapped up in the reading of this book and particularly the art of art forgery Shapiro unmasks. I have often wondered why a painting that has hung for hundreds of years on museum walls and been praised for its style and beauty is not just as valuable and just as precious when it is discovered that it was not painted by one of the greats but by his apprentice. Doesn't the art remain the same. Isn't it just as valuable as art even if it was painted by an unknown? We seem to carry our love of celebrity back into the ages before us and it is the name that sells.

Shapiro's main character, Claire, is a bit conflicted on the morality issues and a little heavy on excusing her own part in the disasters in which she becomes involved, but she is very human in wanting to be recognized for her talents. She is so susceptible to praise from what she considers the right sources and she is all too willing to compromise where she knows she should not in order to obtain the recognition that eludes her. In the process, she becomes entangled and must untangle a hell of a gordian knot. Even though it seemed obvious to me what the ultimate solution would be to the "mystery" of the painting, it was a fun ride to the end.

Shapiro gets high marks from me for her research and attention to detail. She is writing about a complicated subject in the art field and she obviously knows her stuff. The details of Belle Gardner's invented life fit seamlessly into what is known to be true about her, and the personality of Edgar Degas is also in keeping with his known traits. I was completely fascinated by the procedure Claire uses to produce her copies and found none of the explanations dry or over-written.

Some books are great, some are worthless, and some fall right in-between. This is one of the later. It isn't erudite, but it does have some points to make about human nature and Faustian deals. I will confess to being pretty upset when my Kindle battery expired and I had to wait overnight before reading the last four chapters and putting the story to bed. I have had some fairly heavy reading of late, and this was just plain, unadulterated fun. ( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
A young artist produces custom art reproductions for a day job. She is known for her Degas expertise and is a master imitator. She's also a decent artist in her own right, but she's been blackballed by the Boston art community (the reason is part of the suspense). One day she's offered a deal by the owner of one of the galleries which has shunned her: he has been tasked by a secret client to sell a Degas painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum years earlier, and he wants her to reproduce it. He plans to pawn the fake off on a wealthy foreign buyer, pay off the people who contracted with him, and return the original to the museum. Her reward: a one-woman show at his gallery. The artist is so overwhelmed by having a real Degas in her studio that she agrees, but as she begins to study the work, comparing it to others by Degas and against the preparatory drawings he made for it, she realizes that one of the figures in the painting is unlikely to be original, and she starts to doubt the stolen work's authenticity. The gallery owner, of course, doesn't want to hear this, so she proceeds to make an exact duplicate while starting work on her own paintings for the gallery show.

Lots and lots of information about how paintings are reproduced, about how Degas painted, and about the Gardner museum, interspersed with the story of the blackballing and with letters written by Isabella Gardner about her friendship with Degas. Perhaps a little too long, but very enjoyable and, especially towards the end, suspenseful. Also, there is one major character whose future I'd have liked to have known. But those are minor complaints, and overall the story is both entertaining and informative, a combination I love. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Jun 17, 2018 |
I thought this was an enjoyable and thrilling novel about art forgery, combining the best of two literary worlds: an historical thriller, and an art-world escapade. It had a nice balance between inside-baseball art world machinations, and historical mystery, along with a time-sensitive race to clear the name of the protagonist as well as her lover. ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | May 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
Shapiro’s brisk narrative takes the reader through Boston’s art world, the logistics of forgery and the perils of attribution, shuttling between the present and three years earlier, when Claire lost Isaac and first straddled the line between copying and fraud. Interwoven are letters from Gardner to a fictitious niece, Amelia, tracing the obscure circumstances under which she acquired the Degas. (The real-life Gardner burned all her correspondence. If, as in Shapiro’s imagining, she acknowledged replies with “Thanksissimo,” perhaps it’s just as well.)

Readers looking for insight into the Gardner heist will have to go elsewhere. But readers seeking an engaging novel about artists and art scandals will find “The Art Forger” rewarding for its skillful balance of brisk plotting, significant emotional depth and a multi-layered narration rich with a sense of moral consequence.


» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
B. A. Shapiroprimary authorall editionscalculated
Sands, XeReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Serrai, RobertoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination; it must never be a copy.
--Edgar Degas
To Dan, who never gave up
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I step back and scrutinize the paintings.
A painting is above all a product of the artist's imagination; it must never be a copy. --- Edgar Degas
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Book description
A Degas painting stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum is delivered to the Boston studio of a young artist. A few years after suffering personal disappointment from her artist/lover which also cast her reputation away, a handsome suave art gallery owner enters her life with an intriguing proposition to help the museum, benefit mankind and recover her career aspirations at the same time.
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Boston painter Claire Roth has survived financially by painting reproductions, so when influential gallery owner Aiden Markel arrives with a bizarre proposal--her own show if she will forge a copy of a Degas, one of the pictures stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum--she says yes. As she works, Claire and Aiden become lovers, but she doesn't tell him about her discovery that the stolen Degas is itself a copy. This knowledge is Claire's lifeline when the finished forgery is discovered, Aiden and then Claire are both arrested, and only she can save them.… (more)

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