Claire Roth can’t believe her luck when the owner of Boston’s most prestigious art gallery offers her a one-woman show. Of course, there’s a catch: he asks her to copy a painting. A small price to pay to revive her stalled career, Claire thinks—until she discovers that the painting in question is Degas’s After the Bath, stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum as part of the greatest art heist in history.
But as Claire wrestles with her conscience and tackles the Degas, she begins to suspect that the painting is no more “original” than her reproduction. Who forged it, and how has the imitation defied detection for so long? The answers depend on another moral line crossed more than a century ago.
The Art Forger (Algonquin Books, 2012) has as many layers as one of Claire’s paintings. Join us as B. A. Shapiro talks about boundaries and choices, forgery and art, celebrity and value, the viewpoint of a visual artist, the trials of publishing and the joys of writing a bestselling novel—and “Belle” Gardner, who once walked lions down a Boston street and shocked the stuffy Brahmins with her low-cut gowns.
Note that the present-day portion of The Art Forger takes place in 2011, not in 1991, as mentioned in the interview.