I Was Vermeer

Han van Meegeren was unquestionably one of the most successful art forgers ever, duplicating one 17th-century Dutch master after another until a Vermeer he’d sold to Hermann Göring was traced back to him. A talented painter, he learned by trial and error how to age his work — how to create authentic-looking craquelure (roll up a freshly varnished canvas, then bake it in an oven) and simulate centuries of grime (swab a newly cracked painting with India ink). Van Meegeren was so good that some critics claim his forgeries still hang in some eminent museums. While the story in I Was Vermeer is fabulous, it’s a shame Frank Wynne’s writing borders on the ponderous.

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