From Publishers Weekly
In this intriguing if dry biography, Wynne recounts how Dutch forger Han van Meegeren successfully passed off more than a dozen bogus works—including, most famously, The Supper at Emmaus
in 1937—as authentic Vermeers, Halses and de Hooches. Van Meegeren, who favored the style of the old Dutch masters just as modernism was hitting its stride, decided to embarrass his forward-looking critics by creating and selling his own "Vermeer." He continued his charade until he was forced to admit his crimes in 1947 while defending himself against a separate charge of treason. Wynne takes great care in explaining just how the increasingly paranoid and drug-addicted van Meegeren managed to fool the international art community, including a technical breakdown of how van Meegeren employed plastic to create the antique look of cracked craquelure
in his canvases. Wynne also ruminates on how the arrogance of the art world—of critics like Abraham Bredius who were so confident in their ability to spot fakes that they brushed aside X-rays and other modern tests, as well as collectors desperate for authenticity—fuels the market for forgeries. (Sept.)
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The police tracked down Han van Meegeren in 1945 after learning of his connection to a "Vermeer" stashed in the loot of Hermann Goring. Bursting with malevolent pride, van Meegeren made the astonishing admission that he, not Johannes Vermeer van Delft, was the painter--and one of the great art-world scandals was off and running. Wynne's account of van Meegeren's fraud, the first book-length account in English in four decades, contains insights into the mind of a forger as well as narrative verve about van Meegeren's methods of foisting his deceptions upon the Dutch art-history elite. Born in 1889, the youthful van Meegeren began a painting career and received accolades, but his Old Masters style was considered passe. Expert in seventeenth-century technique, Van Meegeren cunningly plotted vengeance by exploiting critics' belief that Christ-themed Vermeers awaited discovery; mirabile dictu
, the theorized "Vermeers" turned up in the 1930s and 1940s. An astutely rendered and delicious tale of an infamous forger. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved