The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century
As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of Johannes Vermeer and the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him centuries later. The con man's mark was Hermann Goering, one of the most reviled leaders of Nazi Germany and a fanatic collector of art.
It was an almost perfect crime. For seven years a no-account painter named Han van Meegeren managed to pass off his paintings as those of one of the most beloved and admired artists who ever lived. But, as Edward Dolnick reveals, the reason for the forger's success was not his artistic skill. Van Meegeren was a mediocre artist. His true genius lay in psychological manipulation, and he came within inches of fooling both the Nazis and the world. Instead, he landed in an Amsterdam court on trial for his life.
ARTnews called Dolnick's previous book, the Edgar Award-winning The Rescue Artist, "the best book ever written on art crime." In The Forger's Spell, the stage is bigger, the stakes are higher, and the villains are blacker.
has to realize”…Lopez, Sept. 29, 2006. “They were confirmed anti-Fascists”…Ibid. The collection numbered 162…Coremans, p. 30. At the end of June 1937…As the rest of this chapter makes clear, this date is disputed. Kronig’s letter on July 1, 1937, quoted on page 182, refers to Boon’s recent visit to Bredius and to Emmaus. On August 30, 1937, Boon wrote to Bredius as if the two men had never met. In his letter to the NRC on March 2, 1938, Boon describes his first meeting with Bredius but does
———. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon Press, 1972. Grafton, Anthony. Forgers and Critics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990. Halpern, Sue. “The Moment of Truth?” New York Review of Books, April 28, 2005. Hanson, N. R. Patterns of Discovery. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1965. Harr, Jonathan. The Lost Painting. New York: Random House, 2005. Harris, Richard. “The Forgery of Art,” The New Yorker, Sept. 16, 1961. Harris, Robert. Selling Hitler. New York: Pantheon, 1986.
Washington. What ever the truth of these stories, Hebborn was undeniably a skilled draftsman. (Hoving refers to his “frightening talent.”) And his fellow forgers concede—sometimes with irritation—that the technical information in his handbook is solid. Hebborn’s solution to the wormhole riddle called for little more than cunning and spit. How to keep ink out of a wormhole? The trick is first to plug the wormhole and only then to start drawing. Chew a bit of paper until it is perfectly soft.
meets the rest of the disciple’s arm. Once the forearm catches your eye, it comes to look like a Halloween prop, a severed stump jammed into a sleeve. That hand seems even less plausible when we compare it with the model that surely inspired it. Look at the left hand of Vermeer’s Astronomer. That hand, too, rests on a table’s edge, with the fingers separated in the identical fashion and the hand vanishing into a roomy sleeve in just the same way. But in the genuine Vermeer, the arm makes perfect
hope that he’d found the treasure of a lifetime. That’s why it’s crucial not to give a damn when you’re a collector. If you care, you’re dead.” But the connoisseurs did care, and with all their hearts. That made their second mistake almost inevitable. Having committed themselves, the experts could not back away from the stand they had taken. Instead, with their reputations on the line, they spent all their energy trying to ensure that everyone else saw the world as they did. IN PRINCIPLE, THE