The Woman Who Stole Vermeer: The True Story of Rose Dugdale and the Russborough House Art Heist

Pegasus. Nov. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781643135298. $27.95. CRIME
Amore’s (director of security, chief investigator, Isabella Gardner Museum; The Art of the Con) absorbing work spotlights Rose Dugdale, an English heiress who in the 1970s became a revolutionary activist intent on freeing Ireland and ending capitalism. In 1974, she led the Irish Republican Army in a heist of noteworthy works from the Russborough House in Ireland; among the works taken was Johannes Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid. Details of Dugdale’s life—a well-heeled, spirited debutante studying economics at Oxford who became impassioned by the burgeoning student protests around her—are intertwined with an account of the Troubles in England and Ireland. Amore provides effective context for Dugdale’s radical actions and offers an examination of the significance of Vermeer’s art that bolsters the sophistication of her crimes. Readers will be enthralled by the many worlds Dugdale seemed to inhabit; those curious about art crime may also enjoy Robert K. Wittman’s Priceless.
VERDICT A captivating book that will entertain fans across genres with its seamless blend of true crime, biography, and art history.
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