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 S Manhattan, And A Celebrated Art Historian Who Painted A Forgery Of It In Her YouthIn , 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 This excellent novel took me somewhat by surprise I was expecting to be interested in this tale of the art world, theft and possible forgery, Netherlands and the art of the 17th century, but instead I was captivated This is such a fascinating story, taking place in 3 distinct time eras 17th century Netherlands, 1950s New York City and Sydney, Australia of 2000 What might potentially become dangerously confused in less sure hands, is here intriguing and pulls the reader on through the pages and years The author is assured in taking us through these times and peoples lives learning their secrets, their inspirations, their pain and hope and love and loss And it centers ultimately on painting and the painting of Sara de Vos, the first woman admitted to the Guild of St Luke s in Holland We see her difficult life, as well as the difficult early life of grad student Ellie Shipley, freelancing as an art restorer to make money while working on her dissertation in New York City, thousands of miles from her place of birth in Australia.Along the way, Smith treats the reader to a minor course in the creation and restoration of classic art as well as some gorgeous descriptions of art theory through Shipley s later lectures on Dutch artists such as Vermeer But there is the matter of the forgery Why was it made Who for Where is it And what repercussions will this copy made in the early 1950s have in present day Australia In an exquisite moment, one of the primary characters, Ellie, is giving a lecture on qualities of light in art and uses Vermeer s Woman Holding a Balance to explain what she sees, what the artist has used and created I think this book will affect the way I look at art in the future, how I think when I m in a museum or a gallery I also think I will read this book again and have added all of Smith s other books to my tbr.Highly recommendedA copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. I know that it is only April but I might have found my favorite book of 2016 Holy cow was this brilliant I ve never heard of Dominic Smith before this book but he s a phenomenal writer and what a story this is This novel has it all Beautiful writing, well fleshed out characters, a wonderful story, and feels yes feels I learned so much about the art world and about Dutch female painters in the 17th century I listened to this book on audio You know you are listening to a good audiobook when the writing is so equisite that you keep going back and listening to the chapters over and over again The narration by Edoardo Ballerini is nothing shy of 5 stars The Last Painting of Sara de Vos is a novel about art, forgery, love and life lessons The book has three intertwining stories taking place in three different continents in three different time periods the 17th Century in Amsterdam, late 1950 s in New York City and 2000 in Sydney All of the stories I absolutely loved My favorite being Sara de Vos a fictionalized character She was a composite of several different Dutch painters Her story at times brought me to tears This book moves back and forth in time and from story to story seamlessly The author does this masterfully Not one time did I wonder what was going on It was never awkward and for me it had a most satisfying conclusion Very highly recommended I would not be the least surprised if this ends up on some top 10 lists of 2016 Read it or listen to it but put it at the top of your list Regrets come into our lives from our earliest moments until the very last Sometimes they are as light as the wings of a butterfly causing but a brief pause Other times they are heavy ladden with pressure forcefully leaning on the heart And the indescribable ache now takes up a permanent residence.Dominic Smith presents his remarkable novel in time spans that drift from 1631 to 1957 to 2000 Each time period is layered expertly like parchment paper that settles oh so lightly allowing the reader to experience what came before and what is yet to come The voice of this well crafted story shifts from the experiential situations of each of his main characters And those regrets are the framework upon which this canvas is spread.Sara de Vos is a master painter living with her husband near Amsterdam in the 17th century Although her husband is an artist as well, we come to realize what actually defines the term master Females were subjected to disregard in the field of art and were relegated to painting flowers But then a tragedy strikes in Sara s life that transforms the feel of the brush as it touches canvas Sara brings her gaze back from the low fire beneath the cauldron Will it ever go away The anguish What transpires here out is a masterpiece from the embers of her soul.In New York City in 1957 Marty de Groot, a prominent lawyer, stands and admires the rich painting that has been in his family for hundreds of years But it brings him no comfort and seems to drape a pallor over his marriage as well He feels dissatisfaction with his life and with this landscape rendering entitled At the Edge of a Wood Ironically, Marty will no longer stand on the edge, but will venture into areas that he will long regret.Unbeknownst to Marty, a young art historian grad student, Ellie Shipley, will no longer stand on the edge of her own existence and will leave footprints of regret as well She finds herself involved in a one time forgery scheme And this single action on her part will cast a gripping shadow from this time forward The seeds have been planted and the harvest is one tangled with the sins of deep transgressions.By 2000 the paths of Marty and Ellie will cross Ellie has become an expert in female painters of the Dutch Golden Age She often sees Sara in her dreams a woman in a bonnet, a sallow, slightly drawn expression, peering in through a window All of their lives are no longer adrift, but on the same course And you will view this collage of dark and light.This was my first book by Dominic Smith The writing is impressive and the storyline is multi layered and read with deep satisfaction Sometimes a book just speaks to you in its vivid language and in the artistry of the subject matter itself This is one of them and a most memorable read. This beautifully written book was a pleasure to read.When I was in high school back in the olden days of the mid eighties we had an art teacher named Mr Gonzalez He was a cool guy, would tell jokes and liked to hang out with my crowd of ne er do wells and also rans My senior year he talked me and a friend into using our last elective for his class But I don t know anything about art appreciation, and no talent whatsoever, I rebutted to his invitation That s why you should take the class, it ll be fun I mentioned to another teacher that I had signed up for Gonzalez class and they looked at me with a knowing smirk.The joke was on the students, the class kicked our ass Unbeknownst to most of us teenage rednecks and knuckle draggers in the small town Southern high school, Mr Gonzalez took his class and its subject very seriously I passed his tough assignments and later took an undergraduate level art appreciation class.The good news is that there is a generation of us running around in Middle Tennessee with at least a passable knowledge of and an appreciation for art This awareness helped me to a greater understating of this book s subject, but even a reader with no art history background would find Smith s writing entertaining.With its intricate description of art history and technical detail of art construction this reminded me of Geraldine Brooks 2008 novel People of the Book Author Dominic Smith uses alternating perspectives from three different place and time settings to tell his story of an obscure but important work from the 1600s Golden Age of Dutch Masters The painting, At the Edge of a Wood, was created by Dutch artist Sara de Vos and is a vivid illustration of loss and haunted mourning Smith tells de Vos story as well as the story from the 1950s of the paintings theft and forgery replete with an investigation and a complex relationship between owner and conservationist Finally, Smith describes the final confrontation of art historians in 2000 as the truth plays out.A great element of this novel is the writer s talented ability to paint a picture of a time and place Seventeenth century Holland breathes with life we feel the cold damp air and smell the simple, earthy atmosphere Smith reveals de Vos world of guilds and archaic laws, we can understand the economic loss of a tulip boom gone bust Likewise, Smith s account of 1950s New York is alive with jazz and the discordant sights of a metropolis vibrant with a history of its own, we can hear the lap of Hudson waters as they caress a riverboat floating north to Harlem and taste beer and pizza from a bench looking at the Brooklyn Bridge.The obvious parallels and connections between the times and places, and between the characters serve tofully frame Smith s narrative Using the separations in time, Smith creates a dramatic irony that is endearing and hypnotic.Smith s use of the alternating perspectives and of the intricately drawn histories and interrelated dynamics of the players makes for a fascinating reading experience The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters and the drama surrounding both the creation of the painting and the evolution of its ownership is compelling, thought provoking and intoxicating I took my time reading this, enjoying every page The ending is quietly brilliant.A very well written and enjoyable novel.
- Kindle Edition
- 304 pages
- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos
- Dominic Smith
- 24 April 2017 Dominic Smith