Today, we saw the art show Vermeer’s Secrets. The impetus for this show was that originally, the National Gallery thought that it owned four Vermeer’s (Woman Holding a Balance, A Lady Writing, Girl with the Red Hat, and Girl with a Flute), but then came to learn that it only had three. There is only a total of 35 of his paintings that are known to exist worldwide. The most famous of his works and not held by the National Gallery is Girl with One Pearl Earring that was featured in a movie starring an ingénue, Scarlet Johansson. The gallery has long acknowledged that it has two clearly fake Vermeer’s that had suddenly appeared in the 1920s. Viewing these two fakes so labeled, I had to agree, yeah right. So, why go looking for trouble with a flashlight? I think that it is something that they just do with the advent of more modern technology. When you have a new toy, you have to go play with it. The experts at the National Gallery discovered that the painting, Girl with a Flute, was likely not a real Vermeer, but most likely was created by a student, follower or someone else, close to the artist. That is how you lose a priceless painting. Being a public institution and subject to the rules of full disclosure, this art show resulted.
I knew those two were forgeries long ago. Vermeer wouldn’t paint the eyes like buttons on flat faces, shaved their eyebrows and wimp out on the hands. There are still a lot more paintings “attributed” to Vermeer that would make him mad. Finally, they admit they hung forgeries. They weren’t painted by a student of Vermeer either. I guess the rich benefactor to the museum must be dead if they admit these are fakes. The museums are full of fake curators too.
It is interesting how Vermeer’s low output, but perfect technique created such desirability that it overwhelmed collector’s judgement for a hundred years. When one can view a Vermeer next to an “attributed to Vermeer”, the differences stand out.
There’s a passable movie about Hans Van Megeeren, the most successful Vermeer forger in history, call The Last Vermeer, that is interesting. He’s been dead 70 years and the Dutch are still sore about that guy.
Thanks for an insightful and less inciting comment
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