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In 1937, Dirk Hannema, the director of Boymans Museum, the later Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, purchased a newly discovered work by the seventeenth-century master Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). The painting, entitled The Supper at Emmaus, was praised throughout the world of Dutch art history. The person who discovered this painting, the renowned art historian Abraham Bredius, even called the painting Vermeer’s supreme masterpiece. After the war, it turned out the the The Supper at Emmaus was not from the hand of Vermeer, but from that of Han van Meegeren (1889-1947). This twentieth-century artist was arrested on suspicion of collaboration, because he had sold a painting to the German Chancellor Hermann Goering. In order to avoid punishment, Van Meegeren confessed that he himself had painted the canvas, Christ and the adulterous woman and several other ‘Vermeers’, including the famous Supper at Emmaus. During his trial, Han van Meegeren was able to present himself in such a way that he did not go down in history as a ‘swindler’, but rather as the misunderstood artist who had deceived the elite ‘art experts’ of the Netherlands. The exhibition on this subject was on show from May 12- August 20 2010 in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

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