Monday 27 March 2023

Rijksmuseum buys death mask of master Vermeer forger, for €300

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum has spent €300 on a death mask of master forger Han van Meegeren, surrounded by an artist’s palette.

The mask, made of plaster but painted to look like bronze, does have a place in the museum’s collection, said curator Wim Pijbes.

‘Van Meegeren belongs in the Rijksmuseum because we have some of his forgeries and his sketches,’ he said. ‘But it does seem odd. Why would you buy the image of a crook?’.


Van Meegeren (1889 – 1947) was a talented artist who mastered the techniques and styles of several Dutch old masters, including Johannes Vermeer. His most succesful work was ‘Vermeer’ Supper at Emmaus.

One of his works ended up in the possession of Herman Göring. This led to him being accused of collaboration during World War II. However, he justified his actions, saying he had conned the Germans out of a significant amount of money, Nos television reports.

He was sentenced to a year in jail for forgery but died of a heart attack before he could serve his sentence.

Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum staged a retrospective of his work in 1996.

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