Eighty years ago, the most famous work attributed to 17th Century Dutch Golden-Age Master Johannes Vermeer was “Christ at Emmaus.” A consensus of art critics and art historians hailed it as Vermeer’s finest work. The painting (with other masterpieces) were sold to Nazi Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring (Hitler’s #2) for approximately $35 Million in today’s dollars. Göring fancied himself as an art expert with the greatest of eye for brilliance and taste who could “plunder” the art -world.
After WWII, Dutchman Han van Meegeren was identified as the man who conducted these transactions which were deemed treasonous. van Meegeren was charged with the crime which included a death-sentence if convicted. van Meegeren ultimately admitted to performing the transactions, but for a very different reason than plundering for the Nazi’s. van Meegeren claimed the works were fakes and part of a Con-game played against Göring. And how could Han van Meegeren prove the art critics, historians, and Göring had been duped? van Meegeren claimed he was the forger and repainted “Christ at Emmaus” while in police custody.
Edward Dolnick’s; The Forger’s Spell tells this true story and others related to it in a 349 page narrative that the best crime novelists would likely complement and applaud. Throughout the book Dolnick asks and answers in great detail virtually all of the questions you might ask. Why would van Meegeren do it and how did he do it?
The Forger’s Spell is a superior and fascinating read.
As many of you know Johannes Vermeer is my favorite painter of art. I have traveled the world to see his works in person. As a gift Linda sent us to the Low Countries to his works and his studio. The story is [here].