The Good, the Bad and the Criminal History of these Notorious Lawbreakers

Detail from a Vermeer painting, believed to be a self portrait of the artist. Wikimedia

39. An Oldies Fan

A small and dapper man in his mid-fifties at war’s end, van Meegeren was born in 1889 in the Dutch provincial town of Delft, birthplace of seventeenth century painter Johannes Vermeer. Vermeer had not been acclaimed during his lifetime, and faded into obscurity soon after his death in 1675. However, his works were rediscovered in the nineteenth century, and his reputation grew. By the time van Megeeren came of age, Vermeer was acknowledged as one of the greatest painters of the Dutch Golden Age.

Growing up in Delft, van Meegeren developed a passion for the art of the Dutch Golden Age, and became a huge fan of Delft’s most famous painter, Vermeer. Van Meegeren was mentored by an art teacher who reinforced his passion for old time paintings, and influenced him into rejecting modern art as decadent and degenerate. In his early twenties, and defying his father, who wanted him to study architecture, van Meegeren moved to The Hague to study painting.

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