The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

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Dominic Smith grew up in Sydney, Australia and now lives in Austin, Texas. He is the author of four novels, including The Last Painting of Sara de Vos (2016), a historical novel, a New York Times Bestseller, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and an Amazon Editors’ Top Pick. Discover Dominic Smith‘s biography, his book, as well as ratings, reviews, comments and more about it.

Dominic Smith holds a Master in Fine Arts in writing from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas.

He serves on the fiction faculty in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and has taught at the University of Texas at Austin, Southern Methodist University, and Rice University.

Smith‘s awards include the Dobie Paisano Fellowship and the Steven Turner Fiction Award from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize, the Gulf Coast Fiction Prize, and a New Works Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts.

His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, Texas Monthly, the Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times. It has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and been shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year and the Vance Palmer Prize, two of Australia’s foremost literary awards.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos was sold into more than a dozen countries. The novel was also a “Best Book of the Year” selection by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, Slate and the San Francisco Chronicle. In the US it was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence from the American Library Association and in the UK for the Walter Scott Historical Fiction Prize. In Australia, it was chosen as the Fiction Indie Book of the Year by the Association of Independent Booksellers.

Dominic‘s other novels are The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre, The Beautiful Miscellaneous, and Bright and Distant Shores.

The last painting of Sara de Vos is his fourth novel and was published in 2016.


“Written in prose so clear that we absorb its images as if by mind meld, “The Last Painting” is gorgeous storytelling: wry, playful, and utterly alive, with an almost tactile awareness of the emotional contours of the human heart. Vividly detailed, acutely sensitive to stratifications of gender and class, it’s fiction that keeps you up at night ― first because you’re barreling through the book, then because you’ve slowed your pace to a crawl, savoring the suspense.” ―Boston Globe

  • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
  • A New York Times Bestseller
Amsterdam, 1631: Sara de Vos becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke. Though women do not paint landscapes (they are generally restricted to indoor subjects), a wintry outdoor scene haunts Sara: She cannot shake the image of a young girl from a nearby village, standing alone beside a silver birch at dusk, staring out at a group of skaters on the frozen river below. Defying the expectations of her time, she decides to paint it.
New York City, 1957: The only known surviving work of Sara de Vos, At the Edge of a Wood, hangs in the bedroom of a wealthy Manhattan lawyer, Marty de Groot, a descendant of the original owner. It is a beautiful but comfortless landscape. The lawyer’s marriage is prominent but comfortless, too. When a struggling art history grad student, Ellie Shipley, agrees to forge the painting for a dubious art dealer, she finds herself entangled with its owner in ways no one could predict.
Sydney, 2000: Now a celebrated art historian and curator, Ellie Shipley is mounting an exhibition in her field of specialization: female painters of the Dutch Golden Age. When it becomes apparent that both the original At the Edge of a Wood and her forgery are en route to her museum, the life she has carefully constructed threatens to unravel entirely and irrevocably.

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One comment

  1. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos is a wonderful historical fiction. It is about two female painters. The first one lives in the Netherlands in the 17th century, at a time when women were not allowed to sign or sell their paintings. The other one lives in New York in the 20th century. Sara, the first artist, is my favourite character. It’s a skilfull weaving of three stories, a trip across the ages. A stunning book!

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