The Forger's Spell

The Forger's Spell

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

eBook - 2009
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As riveting as a World War II thriller, The Forger's Spell is the true story of three men and an extraordinary deception: the revered artist Johannes Vermeer; the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him years later; and the con man's mark, Hermann Goering, the fanatical art collector and one of Nazi Germany's most reviled leaders.
Publisher: 2009
ISBN: 9780061844591
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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bpl_staff Mar 24, 2021

The true story of three men and an extraordinary deception: the revered artist Johannes Vermeer; the small-time Dutch painter who dared to impersonate him years later; and the con man's mark, Hermann Goering, the fanatical art collector and one of Nazi Germany's most reviled leaders.

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olwils21 Jun 27, 2020

Even though the author's slightly non-linear method of storytelling made this book difficult for me to get into at first, I really ended up enjoying it. The author begins the story of Han Van Meegeran, but then detours into a discussion of forgery itself and the psychology behind it before he gets back to Van Meegeran's deception of Hitler's number two man, Goering. However, the details of the story and explanation for how Van Meegeran was able to deceive the top art critics of the day with terrible forgeries of the great Vermeer, are utterly fascinating. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in art, art history, or World War II.

Jun 26, 2020

This incredible account of a Dutch art forger in the 1930s is less about the acquisition of his forgeries by the second highest ranking Nazi but focuses primarily on the appreciation of paintings; the basis of art criticism; and the intertwining of ambition and greed. The text is complimented by black and white and colour photographs of the main characters and the real and fake paintings. The author provides endnotes, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.

Jun 14, 2019

Amazing book about the desire to accumulate art

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 aged 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 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.

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.

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.

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!

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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Jun 26, 2020

"During its brief reign, [the forged 'Vermeer'] "Christ at Emmaus" was the picture of the year, for several years running, Dutch art lovers, laymen and connoisseurs alike, embraced "Emmaus" because this three-centuries-old picture resonated so powerfully with their own tastes and values. It resonated not because [the forger] Van Meegeren cynically catered to tastes he scorned. On the contrary, "Emmaus" embodied precisely those qualities - mystery, stillness, piety, sobriety, modesty - that both Van Meegeren and his audiences esteemed the most. ... That newer vision of Jesus moved Van Meegeren and the Dutch nearly to tears. "Death seems truly conquered here, clad in mystery and full of promise", one critic marveled. It seems almost blasphemous to say so, but if the real [17th century painter] Vermeer had been moved to paint "Emmaus", art lovers in the 1930s might still have preferred Van Meegeren's overblown and sentimental version to the real thing." (p. 220-221)

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