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Van Meegeren's Faked Vermeers

Belgium, 1951 (MIFF 1957, Fakes and Originals)

Director: Jan Botermans, G. A. Magnel

In 1937 the art world was startled by the discovery of a canvas, "Christ at Emmaus", recognised by the famous expert. Bredius, as an authentic Vermeer. In the years that followed many similar paintings were discovered, all bearing the same mark of authenticity. Ten years later came Van Meegeren's sensational declaration that he was the author of the paintings in question.

The court ordered the painter to paint a picture under supervision, but the result was not conclusive, whereupon science was called upon to prove whether the paintings were authentic or not. We follow in intimate detail the careful probings of radio, macro and micrographic tests, the X-ray examinations. and finally, the chemical analysis of the materials used - all leading to the confirmation of Van Meegeren's claim. Then we are shown what brought the painter to produce faked pictures; his techniques and his methods of disposing of the fakes; and finally, the sentence passed on him.

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