I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger

Frank Wynne, Author . Bloomsbury $24.95 (276p) ISBN 978-1-58234-593-2

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.)

Reviewed on: 07/10/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-60819-655-5
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-7475-6681-6
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