The Forger's Spell

The Forger's Spell

A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century

Book - 2008
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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, Han van Meegeren, who dared to impersonate Vermeer 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.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2008
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060825416
0060825413
Characteristics: xii, 349 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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IndyPL_SteveB Mar 01, 2019

This is one of the most fascinating stories I have ever read. In 1938, a mildly popular Dutch artist named Han van Meegeren, frustrated by a lack of acclaim, decided to show that he was the equivalent of the great Dutch masters of the past. After long research he produced and age a painting so that it appeared to be a previously unseen work of one of the very greatest painters: Johannes Vermeer, who lived more than 200 years earlier. Van Meegeren painted and sold several more fakes, fooled art experts, and made millions.

He might have gotten away with it and we might still have these lower-quality paintings hanging in major museums today, if he hadn’t sold fakes to Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering. After the war Van Meegeren was facing charges of treason and possible execution for collaboration with the Nazis. His only way out was to confess to the forgeries. But now no one would believe him. Van Meegeren was forced to paint another fake in front of witnesses in order to save his life.

In addition to discussion of the real Vermeer and a biography of the forger van Meegeren, the author includes a history of the Nazis’ looting of Europe (as in *Monuments Men*) and a history of art forgery. Finally it is a study of how easy it is to fool even experts.

k
kagree
Mar 02, 2014

The other spell is how Edward Dolnick draws you into his book. I had trouble putting it down. Good story, well written. The intermixing of WWII, art forgery methodology and the story of Van Meegeren made for an engrossing read. My friend was reading The Monuments Men at the same time and we had a lot to talk about.

g
GummiGirl
May 25, 2012

An illuminating look at how a Dutch forger, Han van Meegeren, fooled critics and collectors in the 1930s and sold one of his "Vermeers" to Hermann Goering. Includes lots of details about the mechanics of creating and selling forgeries, though less about van Meegeren himself.

s
synchdoc
Feb 18, 2012

Interesting historical work that puts a different dimension on the invasion by the Nazis of the various European countries. Interesting to see the role of art in the war!

t
tedrich2921
Oct 12, 2011

If you are looking for something different, something interesting, and something that will be a knowledge boost (while being fun to read), this is your book! This book was very well written and I promise you'll never look at a painting the same way. Hey, I didn't know a Vermeer from a Van Gogh and I really really enjoyed this book. It gets a solid A. I hightly recommend this one.

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