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Book review: 'The Art Forger' by B.A. Shapiro

“The Art Forger” by B.A. Shapiro looks at the Boston art world and the fascinating art of forgery.
BY JOHN HARRINGTON Published: March 3, 2013

In B.A. Shapiro's “The Art Forger” (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $23.95), Clair Roth, a talented artist with few sales or shows, helps pay her rent by painting commissioned reproductions.

She's been approached by Aiden Markel, a well-known Boston gallery owner who wants Claire to copy a painting. She'll be paid as well as get her own show at his gallery.

But the painting to be copied appears to be a work by artist Edgar Degas, his fifth “After the Bath.” The work was one of the 13 masterpieces stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. The case was never solved, nor have any of the paintings ever been recovered.

As Claire gets more into researching the painting and the actual work, she begins to wonder whether the painting she's copying is itself a copy. It gets even more confusing before it's resolved. The Boston art world is revealed, as well as the fascinating art of forgery. Author Shapiro mixes fact and fiction quite well, and the plot twists will keep you guessing.

— John Harrington