|Art experts use most of their
time studying art. That’s what has made them experts. No one
becomes an expert over night. By seeing and keeping on seeing, by deep
studies, by kicking the doors of the museums, galleries and auctions, by
constantly observing, by studying books and by drawing comparisons, a
person can hope approximately to become an expert.
One of the great names within the world of experts was the Dutch Abraham Bredius. An expert in Dutch painting from the 16’th century, and because of that with an intensive knowledge about the painter Jan Vermeer van Delft, the master of one of the most famous paintings in the world “The Cook-Maid” from approximately 1660, showing a girl pouring milk into a can. This painting you can enjoy in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where Bredius was a junior director. Bredius had become known for his book about Rembrandt as stated otherwise in this paper. The book in question was a complete list over the master’s paintings. Since then it is heavily reduced in the number of paintings from the hand of Rembrandt as also stated otherwise.
Bodius had reached the age of more than 80 years in 1937, his sight was poor, and he had retired in order to enjoy his retirement in Monaco. But one day, in the beginning of September; he received a letter from a certain dr. G. A. Boon in Paris. Bodius’ interest was awakened in a tremendous manner, so much that he packed his suitcases and headed toward the city of the cities – Paris.
The result from his visit one could read in the English paper of art The Burlington Magazine, edition September under the headline: “A new Vermeer” and Bredius started right on, and softly he said: “It’s a wonderful moment in life to an art lover to suddenly be confronted with a so far unknown painting by a great master. Untouched, on original canvas and with no restorations, completely as had it just been given free from the master’s hand. Oh! What painting it was! Neither the beautiful signature I. V. Meer (in monogram I.V.M.) nor the picking at the breed, which Christ is blessing is necessary to convince anybody, that what we have here, I’m forced to say, the masterpiece of Johannes Vermeer and furthermore it’s one of his best paintings (117 by 129 cm), quite different from all his other pictures, but yet every inch is “a Vermeer”. The motive is Christ and his disciples in Emmaus, and the colours are magnificent – and characteristic – Christ wearing wonderful blue suit, the disciple at the left side whose face you can hardly see are in a fine green coulor; the other disciple at the right side wares a yellow clothing, Vermeer’s famous tone, but subdued in perfect harmony with the other colour. The servant is dressed in dark-brown and dark-grey, the look in her face is gorgeous. And precisely this sensitive way of painting is also the most wonderful quality about this art. In none of his other paintings, the great master from Delft, we will find so great sensitivity, so deep understanding for Bible history – a way of looking so fine and with so great humanitarian expression by means of the best world of art".
The painting Doctor Boon had in his hands for inspection by a friend, the Dutch painter Han van Meegeren, who told him, that the painting came from an old Dutch family, who lived in Italy under the fascistic regime. The family, according to Meegeren, bared the name Mavroeke had asked him to sell some heirlooms, and he had now put himself into a great risk, smuggling the painting out of the country.
The publication of Bredius’ article
has of course given the picture “the blue mark”. It was to be
considered a statement of genuineness, and Boon tried to sell it in
Paris, but in vane. He brought it back to Holland, where he claimed it
to be a national treasure, and therefore it had to stay in the country.
His prayers were heard and a number of art specialists, amongst these
the respected dealer Hoogendijk and the director for Boymans Museum
Hannema, bought it together with the Rembrandt company for 520.000
Guilders, at that time represented a value of 1.3 Million. The sale left
¾ of the amount to van Meegeren. The painting was put in place at the
new Boymans Museum in Rotterdam, where it for the next seven years was
exposed to daily admiration as one of the world’s most magnificent
piece of art. And had it not been for a pure coincidence, nobody would
have ever heard about van Meegeren.
A commission of experts under the
leadership of the director of the Belgium museum laboratories d. P.B.
Coremans was asked to investigate the pictures. During the whole case
van Meegeren had been very cooperative, and in March 1947, almost two
years after his confession, the result was put forward to
Coremans-commission. They showed in evidently the information given by
van Meegeren. Before that van Meegeren had in detail told, how he had
painted “his” Vermeer”, The Supper at Emmaus. How he had
used the canvas from the 1600'th century material, painting and
used materials, which could only be acquired on Vermeer’s time.