The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith
“Whenever I gravitate to a painting in a museum, I always read the accompanying placard. And yet, so often these little labels tend to run only a few lines long: title of work; name of artist; date of birth, death. No rich description of what you see. Curators around the world would do well to hire Dominic Smith to craft those gallery signs (though I suspect Smith may not need the side gig). Splashed across the entire first page of his riveting book, “The Last Painting of Sara de Vos,” is the plaque for the fictional painting that dominates his narrative:
At the Edge of a Wood (1636)
Oil on canvas
30’’ x 24”
Sara de Vos
“In 1957, de Groot, “agnostic but prone to bouts of wild superstition,” had hesitated before undertaking to retrieve his lost masterpiece. The police failed to find the thief; the painting never surfaced among the offerings of various shady dealers. Maybe it was better to keep the fake and forget about the swap? Family lore held “the cursed painting” responsible for “300 years of gout, rheumatism, heart failure, intermittent barrenness and stroke in his bloodline.” Ever since Pieter de Groot bought it, in 1637, at an auction conducted by the Guild of St. Luke, no one who’s owned it has lived past the age of 60.”
-- Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times?
We look forward to gathering with you.