The Man Who Made Vermeers

You’ve heard of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and Balloon Boy, but have you ever heard of Han van Meegeren, the man who forged Vermeer paintings and fooled the Nazis?

Van Meegeren, a.k.a. the Art Liar, was a master of art forgery, but like any liar he was eventually caught.  During WWII, van Meegeren thought he was a pretty smooth criminal when he began creating Vermeer paintings and passing them off as new discoveries in Vermeer’s artistic career.  He fooled art experts, critics, museums and even Hitler’s number-two man, Hermann Goring, who bought one of van Meegeren’s creations for a whopping 1.6 million Dutch guilders ($1,064,243 in U.S. dollars) making it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold.  It was this sale that eventually landed van Meegeren behind bars.

If you want to hear more about the rise and fall of one of the greatest hoaxers of all time then stop by the CMA on Wednesday, November 11 at 7 p.m. for a book signing and lecture with Jonathan Lopez, author of The Man Who Made Vermeers.  The lecture is sponsored by the Painting and Drawing Society of the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Admission to the lecture is $15, $10 for students.

It took Lopez three years and trips to five nations before he gathered enough research to uncover the truth behind van Meegeren and, believe me, he found out some very interesting facts.  For instance, van Meegeren discovered what art and pizza ovens have in common.  To achieve an aged look, van Meegeren learned that if he mixed the paint with small amounts of plastic and formaldehyde then dried the painting out in a pizza oven he could make a new painting appear to be 300 years old.  Pretty crafty.

Can you spot the real versus the fake?  One work is by Vermeer and one was created by van Meegeren and passed off as a Vermeer.  If you think you know which is the fake leave a comment and we’ll put you in a drawing for a free copy of Lopez’s book.

Painting #1

Painting #2

For more information about Jonathan Lopez and his book click here.

For more information about Lopez’s lecture at the CMA click here.


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