The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam recently purchased a death mask by Han van Meegeren, a master forger of Vermeer.
The museum spent €300 on the mask made of plaster (but painted in such a way that it resembles bronze). According to DutchNews.nl, curator Wim Pijbes says the mask does in fact have a place in the museum’s collection and this was the reason for the purchase.
Van Meegeren, born in 1889 and died in 1947, was a talented artist well-versed in the styles and techniques of numerous Dutch masters in addition to Vermeer. In fact, his most successful work is entitled, Supper at Emmaus, which copied Vermeer’s techniques.
Van Meegeren was also controversial in that one of his works ended up in the possession of Herman Göring, a German politician, military leader, and leading member of the Nazi Party. This led to Van Meegeren being accused of working with the Nazis during the Second World War. However, van Meegeren did argue that he had conned the Germans out of a significant amount of money through his forgeries. Van Meegeren was sentenced to a year in jail for forgery but died of a heart attack before he was able to serve his sentence in prison.
Image Credit: Flickr