Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: The Man Who Made Vermeers

The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van MeegerenThe Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It appears that Han van Meergeren was in a sense his own greatest forgery.



In this work, the author deconstructs the legend, and reveals a character on the borderline of sociopathy, albeit socially charming, but far more of a collaborator, Nazi sympathizer and hardened crook than the art world Robin Hood legend represents.



Rather than a loss, this results in a story I found far more fascinating, and far more coherent. What is somewhat puzzling to the contemporary reader is the mystery of how the images that finally lead to van Meergeren's arrest could ever have been mistaken for those of Vermeer.



The author has done a very good analysis of how the expectations of an era or an art historian can determine what forgeries are invisible to it, or cater to its whims. And of course, as soon as one forgery is admitted as genuine, the oddities of its style start to be attributed to its purported maker.



(None of the above is really a spoiler, there is a wealth of detail that I have left out.)



View all my reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment