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I Was Vermeer: The Legend of the Forger Who Swindled the Nazis Hardcover – 7 Aug 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition, First Impression edition (7 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747566801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747566809
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 269,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A cracking tale… Genuinely thrilling… Heaven sent. -- Dail Mail, August 11 2006

Gripping and psychologically fascinating -- The Observer (Edward Marriott)

…a compellingly racy book… -- Evening Standard, August 21 2006

…a sensational story, full of melodramatic twists and conspiracies… -- The Guardian, 26 August 2006

…an excellent account of van Meegeren's life and peculiar artistry -- Financial Times, August 19 2006

From the Publisher

A brilliant dissection of the deception and corruption at the
heart of the twentieth-century fine art industry, based on private letters,
court transcripts and contemporary interviews. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By kaimac on 8 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The life of the scheming fraudster is by its very nature more interesting than that of the natural genius. Everyone loves an underdog, and Han van Meegeren was that most unusual of underdogs: a winner.

Wynne's book, described last weekend by The Observer as 'gripping and psychologically fascinating', seeks to do more than simply recount this most interesting of stories. It gets inside van Meegeren's head, and in doing so sheds new light on one of the most intriguing characters the art world has ever seen.

This is just a fascinating story, brilliantly told. Very highly recommended.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By gail armstrong on 25 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
Utterly fascinating and beautifully-written.

As compelling as the story itself are the details on the long, careful process involved in the forger's deception.

And perhaps most interesting of all is the debate it forces on what constitutes a masterpiece: how our perception of a work of art is influenced by the surrounding acclaim, or lack thereof - how easily our tastes are cowed into mainstream definitions of greatness by purported experts, perhaps concerned more with covering their asses than furthering the cause of artistry.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G. Anderson on 13 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
This story of how Han Van Meegeren wrought revenge on the pre-war Dutch art establishment and hoodwinked Hermann Göring to boot is most beautifully written. A tale like this is crying out to be made into a film!

I found it un-put-downable and I was left with a smile on my face having finished reading it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R Helen on 12 July 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"I was Vermeer" is a fascinating little book and you'll never be able to go to an art museum again and not wonder if what you are looking at is "real" or not. The book has two themes running through it. The first revolves around the autobiography of Han van Meegeren, a talented artist whose affair with an art critic's wife ruins his career. Ultimately, Van Meegeren turns to revenge against the art world that has spurned him. His forgeries of Vermeer are so convincing, they are hung in major museums and private collections. If it were not for the fact that one was eventually bought by notorious Nazi Hermann Göring, the world would still be marvelling at Vermeer's "De Emausgangers." And this leads into the author's second theme. What is art really and just how "fake" are these forgeries? It's an interesting question, especially when we learn that Rembrandt himself signed works done by his students. The question of what is authentic takes on a whole new meaning. Frank Wynne spends a good deal of time exploring the role of the art critic in our perceptions of what makes art. It's well worth the read for anyone interested in art and modern culture.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mr Man on 7 Aug. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The fascinating story of an obsessive man's effort to gain recognition for his own paintings by passing them off as Vermeer's to the art word, thus proving his own genius was comparable with the master's
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Miss Melisa M. Thomas on 11 Jun. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book beautifully portrayed the character of Han van Meegeren; intricately described his forgery techniques; and set out a fascinating overall view of the world of art fakery and forgery. Quite appropriately it flagged up many questions, as well as providing explanations!
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, and read it over the course of a couple of days - in fact I very nearly missed my stop on the bus on one occasion because I was so engrossed.

I only have a couple of quibbles. The prose is often quite deliriously "purple" and over the top, which does sometimes get rather tiring. Much is made on the book's jacket and in the accompanying blurb that Van Meegren "swindled the Nazis" and yet scant reference is made to this in the text; it gets a couple of brief mentions and that is that. It seems slightly desperate of the author/publisher to make this a major selling point of the book when it is so briefly and sketchily mentioned in the text itself.

The major ommission is in the plates. Most of the book's action centres around Van Meergren's "masterpiece" of "The Supper at Emmaus" (it was his first and most important art fraud) - and yet there is no illustration of this whatsoever. There's a picture of Vermeer's "Girl with a pearl earring" upon which, it is said, Van Meergren based the face of the serving girl in "The Supper at Emmaus", which seems rather redundant, as "Girl with a pearl earring" is probably one of the world's most famous faces in art, probably only second to The Mona Lisa. Given this, was it necessary to include a reproduction, to the exclusion of the work around which the entire book revolves? I know, a minor quibble, but a quibble nonetheless. The book would have been a much better read with the addition of a single illustration; one around which the entire book revolves.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jet Lagged on 10 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
Excellent and engrossing account of the life and forgeries of Hans van Meegeren. He wasn't just constrained to forging Vermeers but could knock off various artists to order.

One thing that stands out was his knowledge of the materials used by the old masters.
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