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The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  26,644 ratings  ·  2,699 reviews
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 historica ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Kokodachic The books are about art and thats about where the similarity stops. The Goldfinch is a deep twisting tale that I couldn't let go of and dragged me alo…moreThe books are about art and thats about where the similarity stops. The Goldfinch is a deep twisting tale that I couldn't let go of and dragged me along. The writing is exquisite regardless of what you make of the characters. The Dominic Smith is "an airport read" by comparison
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Jennifer Masterson
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 ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 reade
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
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,
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Here we have it: my authentic review. It has not been forged in any way, but a 17th century painting has and it's about to come into contact with the real one 40 years later.

The narrative starts with the artist herself and the inspiration or more accurately, the grief, for the painting. The story then moves to the latest owner, Marty, and the switcharoo that happens during a dinner party only to be discovered months later it's a fraud. The story then moves to the artist, Ellie, who was hired to
Elyse  Walters
Apr 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Update: This just went on sale for $2.99 today -- Kindle special. Great deal!

Gorgeous descriptions from the very the very end!!!
At times I felt I was in the same room with Ellie.....I could relate to her rebellious spirit. Other times, I was completely enchanted by the framing restoration details itself.
The relationship between women & 'prejudice' when it came to art was such a puzzle and 'tragic'. I thought of "The Blazing World", by Siri
Hustvedt - who went to great extremes
4.5 stars.
As was the case in The Goldfinch, an enigmatic 17th century Dutch painting is the focus of everything that happens in this novel. In three alternating narratives Smith provides us with a life of the painter, Sara de Vos, a life of its long-time owner, Marty de Groot and a life of the young woman who is called upon to forge it, Ellie Shipley. When the painting is stolen and replaced by a forgery Marty will forge a new identity in order to track down the people responsible for its theft
Andrew Smith
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
In 1631 Sara de Vos is the first woman painter to be admitted to the Guild of St Luke’s in Holland. It’s the Dutch Golden Age, the time of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Hals. It’s unusual for women to paint anything other than still life, but Sara has produced a haunting winter scene which will be known as At the Edge of a Wood.

Skip forward to the late 1950’s, it’s New York and the painting sits above the bed of a rich middle aged lawyer, a descendent of the original owner. In Brooklyn, a young grad st
Angela M
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I see the painting titled , "At the End of a Wood" in my mind from the perfectly detailed and beautiful description in the beginning of the book . For a minute I forget what I just read about Sara de Vos's character being a blend of the biographical details of several Dutch women painters in the 17th century and I'm ready to go find the image online . I'm immediately disappointed when I realize the only image I'll have of this painting is what's in my mind's eye . That disappointment dissipates ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Last Painting of Sara de Vos is a beautifully written and expertly crafted novel that will leave you not only dreaming of the landscape of a mysterious painting, but also of the times and places that connect together throughout. The austere backdrop of seventeenth century Amsterdam provides the setting for one thread to this story. New York City and Manhattan during the late 1950s is wonderfully atmospheric, jumping between art galleries, universities, jazz clubs and the homes and offices of ...more
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 a
Felice Laverne
“How do you know you didn’t ruin my life forty years ago?”
“From what I can see, you never looked back.”
“I looked back, believe me,” she says.
“That makes two of us.”

Firstly, let me say to those who have read this novel, I have no idea why the Goodreads summary made me think I was going to be getting this:


For those of you who haven’t read it and are considering it, it’s not that. :-)

**CAUTION, this review contains (mild) spoilers**
In 1631, Sara de Vos is a painter ahead of her time who is
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
My Review:

I liked this book, which was spread over three time periods.

The artist Sara de Vos narrates the time period of Amsterdam in 1635. This is a fictional character based upon the painter Sarah van Baalbergen. She and her husband are struggling artists trying to make ends meet. Marty De Groot narrates New York in the 1950’s. He is the private owner of the Sara de Vos painting. He has inherited his fortune from his wealthy Dutch family. Ellie Shipley narrates Australia in 2000. She was invol
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The Last Painting of Sara De Vos by Dominic Smith is a book that I had been reluctant to read and this was largely due to my dislike of another Novel on Art which I struggled through. However The Last Painting of Sara de Vos was such an engaging and interesting read and I am so glad I picked this one up and had the chance to experience Dominic Smith's wonderful writing.

I loved the plot and the wonderful sense of time and place. The story switches between three timelines and locations from New Yo
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The painting ‘At the Edge of a Wood’ by Sara De Vos is quietly looking over the sleeping couple Marty and Rachel de Groot. It was passed down to him by his father, and all the fathers before for some 600 years. Marty, only in his forties, lives in New York City with all the wealth and security one of his stature can indulge in; the year is 1958. The story easily goes back and forth from ’58 to 1637 as we read about the tragic life of painter Sara De Vos and how her impressive painting has affect ...more
This is the story of one painting and three people whose lives intersect because of this painting. First, the artist, Sara de Vos. A female dutch painter who is the first woman to be allowed into the Guild of St. Luke in Amsterdam, which did not admit many female painters. She paints, At the Edge of a Wood, a winter scene with a girl looking out at skaters over a frozen river. Next, Marty de Groot, a wealthy gentleman living in New York, and the owner of Sara's painting until the painting is sto ...more
Diane S ☔
Nov 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
1600s, Holland, Sara is the first woman admitted to the artist's guild. Her husband was a painter of landscapes, but at that time woman were expected to paint only still life's. After a terrible tragedy changes the fabric of their family, Sara paints a landscape. This painting will affect the fortunes of others down the centuries.

Late 1950's Ellie Shipley is a young woman working on her thesis of Dutch woman painters, she is also working as a cleaner and restorer. She is asked to do something th
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
If you like your historical fiction well written and well researched then this is the book for you. I really enjoyed what I learned about Dutch painters, especially the women, and about the Guilds which apparently controlled everything the artists did.
The writing style was slow and quiet, restrained and informative. The author managed to move between three different times and points of view without ever losing my interest, although I was always waiting a little to get back to Sara as the charact
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 - rounded up.

This is a wonderfully woven tale of the art world and its intrigues that blends two stories, set in the 1600s, the 1950s and the year 2000. The intrigue focuses around a painting by a Dutch woman, Sara de Vos, the first woman admitted to the Guild of St. Luke, who has broken the imposed boundaries of her time by painting a landscape instead of a still-life. This painting, owned by a very wealthy collector in 1958, is stolen, and a young artist, named Ellie, is commissioned to pa
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
Really, really good - an engaging and very well written story told from three points of view - the artist Sara DeVos (from the 1600's Netherlands), DeVos painting owner Marty (from late 1950's New York into the 2000's) and Australian art historian Ellie (also from late 1950's to 2000's).

I loved how the all the threads came together in the end and all the bits and pieces in the narratives about the world of painting and forgeries. At first, I didn't care for the "Marty thread," but I ended up lik
Rae Meadows
Jul 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a jewel box of a novel. Beautiful, elegant, haunting, and not a word out of place. It is restrained without being distant, moving without any overwrought pyrotechnics. I found it to be a quietly compelling page-turner about art, regret, loss, and finding meaning within the constraints of one's circumstances. Three separate narratives--1950s New York, 1630s Amsterdam, and 2000 Sydney--are interwoven seamlessly, building on each other in profound ways, all anchored by a painting. (On a side n ...more
This is a perfect historical fiction read. A combination of history, masterful penmanship, an excellent plot, a successful combination of the three different characters's stories into one painting, and a storyline that keeps the reader spellbound.

During the Fifties, Ellie Shipley, a young rebellious, angry, reckless and lonely young art student from Brooklyn decides to lash back at her own life by forging an ancient old painting of the Dutch Golden Age. As she proceeded with the painting, and re
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well-written and cleverly constructed, I’m happy to have genuinely enjoyed my time with this book. It’s admittedly a bit slow to start, but that investment more than pays off in the form of a fascinating story, complex characters, and a beautifully executed ending.

As evidenced by the title, the art of painting is the backdrop against which this story is told. I’ve never taken an interest, nor am I learned on the subject to any degree, but still I found the artistic descriptions to be exquisite.
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Single word adjectives kept coming to mind as I read, "languid", "dolorous", "frilly", "exacting", "void" doubt inspired by the flood of description written on every page of "The Last Painting of Sara De Vos".

The novel is a feat of detail, following not only the item, the painting, but the action and physical art itself with its movement on carefully prepared surfaces, variable brushstrokes and the medium applied. I was entranced by the fictional Sara De Vos in 16th Century Netherlands as
Dominic Smith masterfully tells the story of lives intertwined over the centuries by a painting. At the Edge of the Wood by Sara de Vos a 17th Century Dutch painter is one of the few landscape paintings created by a woman in that era. While women were admitted to the master painters' Guild of St. Luke's, they were relegated to still life painting, leaving the landscapes to men. The painting, done in the 1630's, is born of grief after the death of Sara's daughter.

The painting has been owned by an
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This fine novel plunges us into the world of art restoration and its close cousin, art forgery. Ellie Shipley is a graduate student studying Dutch women artists of the 17th century and eking out a living restoring old works of art. When she is asked to paint a copy of a 17th century painting "At the End of a Wood" from a photograph, she is tempted into doing it to see if she can. The ramifications of her actions will resonate through her life and finally catch up with her some 40 years later.

Who'd have thunk my words would have ended up in a New York Times Ad for this book? They did, and I'm kvelling:

What a brilliant melding of subject and atmosphere. This book reads as if it were a 17th century Dutch Masterpiece -- beautiful, clear, complex and infused with both joy and longing. As good a novel as I've ever read that uses art and art history as a way of elucidating the human heart. Highly recommended!
Roger Brunyate
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
A Depiction and a Lie
Before that first line of pale chalk, before the underdrawing fleshes out into shapes and proportions, there is a stab of grief for all the things she didn't get to paint. The finches wheeling in the rafters of the barn, Cornelis reading in the arbor, Tomas bent over in his roses in the flower garden, apple blossoms, walnuts beside oysters, Kathrijn in the full bloom of her short life, Barent sleeping in a field of lilacs, the Gypsies in the market, late-night revelers in
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A winter scene at twilight. The girl stands in the foreground against a silver birch, a pale hand pressed to its bark, staring out at the skaters on the frozen river....A single cataract of daylight at the horizon, a meadow dazzled beneath a rent in the clouds, then the revelation of her bare feet in the snow…Somehow she’s walked into this scene from outside the painting, trudged onto the canvas from our world, not hers.

Dominic Smith opens his elegantly-wrought novel with this haunting descripti
This is the kind of novel I love best of all. Beautifully written, well-constructed, well-researched and, best of all, excitingly plotted. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos tells the story of how one painting affects the lives of people through whose hands it passes through the centuries – a fascinating idea in itself. Essentially we get three characters and their stories – the author of the painting itself, Sara, and her life in 17th century Holland (beautifully depicted), an art historian who t ...more
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book has 3 distinct story lines. That are part historical fiction/ part mystery. The story lines are that of Sara De Vos, a female painter from the 1600's, Marty (time frame 1950's to somewhere in 2000's), an attorney, whose family has owned one of Sara De Vos for hundreds of years, and Ellie, an Art Historian who is an expert on Sara De Vos and other Dutch painters. Her time frame matches Marty de Groot's. Their stories all come together during the course of this book.

This book started ver
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Museum of Fine Ar...: A Reflection on Water 1 19 Sep 22, 2017 07:38AM  
Museum of Fine Ar...: The First Encounter... 1 26 Jun 29, 2017 02:28PM  

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Dominic grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of five novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, a New York Times bestseller and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. Dominic's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, Texas Monthly, The Australian, and The New York Times. He has received literature fellowships from th ...more

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“They covered their walls with beautiful paintings for the same reason they drank—to distract themselves from the abyss.” 10 likes
“She has no interest in the composition from ten or twenty feet—that will come later. What she wants is topography, the impasto, the furrows where sable hairs were dragged into tiny painted crests to catch the light. Or the stray line of charcoal or chalk, glimpsed beneath a glaze that’s three hundred years old. She’s been known to take a safety pin and test the porosity of the paint and then bring the point to her tongue. Since old-world grounds contain gesso, glue, and something edible—honey, milk, cheese—the Golden Age has a distinctively sweet or curdled taste. She is always careful to avoid the leads and the cobalts. What” 8 likes
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