The Man Who Made Vermeers is the true story of a Dutch painter named Han Van Meegeren. Near the end of World World II, Van Meegeren was arrested for forging paintings that were originally the works of Johannes Vermeer. Author Jonathon Lopez talks about Van Meegeren’s life, from his childhood, to his arrest and trial. As a young man, Van Meegeren was a very gifted artist. However, he was conservative at a time where modernism was on the rise. So instead of painting like Salvador Dali or Claude Monet, he painting old style paintings like Leonardo di Vinci. Van Meegeren often enjoyed associating with higher class people, and found that there was a market for old style art among them. He was poor, so he began to forge Vermeers to make money for himself and his family. Van Meegeren was a Nazi sympathizer, and had many drawings and paintings sent for Nazi publication. Once, he even sent Hitler a gift, which may have been a book of some sort. Many of Van Meegeren’s fake paintings were placed in the homes of Jews that no longer lived there. These paintings were later stolen by Hermann Goering, who was an active stealer. Art historians were able to figure out that they were fakes, when 1) Van Meegeren confessed. 2) The brushstrokes were slightly different from the original, as they were stiffer.
Jonathon Lopez is an artist himself, and he wrote this book with rich detail. It is well researched about the world of art, art collectors, and art forgeries. It is also well researched about the Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. The book is pretty interesting when it talks about the materials used to make the paintings look old and real. As an artist, I would’ve been more interested in how Van Meegeren was taught and why he preferred old style art to Modernism. It would also be interesting to know the psychological part of Van Meegeren’s decision to forge paintings. This would in a sense be talking about criminal psychology.