Eight linked stories tracing the history of a painting by the 17th-century Dutch artist, Vermeer. In one, he paints his daughter to pay off debts, a second story describes the loss of the ownership papers, a third takes place on the eve of its theft by the Nazis.
"Born to the artist Orazio Gentileschi at the beginning of the 1600s, when artists were the celebrities of their day, Artemisia was apprenticed to her father at an early age. She showed such remarkable talent that he came to view her as the most precious thing he owned. But at the age of seventeen Artemisia was raped by her father's best friend and partner, Agostini Tassi. Soon the Gentileschi name was being dragged through scandal, for Artemisia refused, even when tortured, to deny that she had been raped. Indeed, she went farther: she dared to plead her case in court. For eight months all of Rome was riveted by the trial. Artemisia won the case, but in return she was ostracized from Rome and from her father.
"This is a story of the love-hate relationship between master and pupil, father and daughter, at a time when daughters belonged to their fathers and had no legal rights. Artemisia's talent was such that she overturned the prejudices of her time, winning the admiration of wealthy patrons, kings, and queens. Lapierre brings Artemisia Gentileschi to vivid life as she tells of the emotional struggle of this remarkable, fascinating woman."
In journal entries to her mother, a gifted artist who died suddenly, thirteen-year-old Georgia McCoy reveals how her life changes after she receives an anonymous gift membership to a nearby art museum.