ROTTERDAM.- Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen presents ‘Van Meegeren’s Fake Vermeers’, an exhibition of the famous forgeries of Han van Meegeren. Van Meegeren craftily exploited art historians’ desire to discover early works by Johannes Vermeer. During a famous court case in which Van Meegeren was accused of Nazi collaboration, he admitted that he had forged old master paintings, including several Vermeers. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen had acquired one of the fake Vermeer from Van Meegeren. The exhibition explores Van Meegeren’s technique, his masterpieces and his downfall. The exhibition ‘Van Meegeren’s Fake Vermeers’ includes approximately ten forgeries by Han van Meegeren (1889-1947). Most are in the style of Johannes Vermeer, but the works also include forgeries of Frans Hals, Pieter de Hooch and Gerard ter Borch. Van Meegeren’s life as a forger is further illuminated through a documentary film and objects from his studio.
In 1937 the director of Museum Boymans, Dirk Hannema, purchased ‘The Supper at Emmaus’ for 540,000 guilders. There was great interest in the painting, which most experts believed to be an early masterpiece by Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam even offered Vermeer’s ‘The Love Letter’ in exchange for the painting, but Hannema rejected the offer. Museum Boymans exhibited the work as one of the highlights of its collection and art experts praised the work’s high quality.
At the end of the Second World War a painting from the Netherlands was found in the collection of the Nazi minister, Hermann Göring. The painting was traced back to Han van Meegeren, who was immediately arrested on suspicion of collaboration. Van Meegeren admitted to having sold the work, but also claimed to have made the painting himself. He had sold Göring a forgery. Van Meegeren’s confession became worldwide news and he was hailed as a hero as ‘the man who swindled Göring’. Meanwhile the art world was thrown into disarray. Van Meegeren demonstrated his forgery techniques to an expert panel and during his trial his forgeries were hung in the courtroom, as can be seen in the documentary film included in the exhibition.
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