The work of a great master being condemned as a fake is remarkable but not totally unusual; the work of a forger being hailed as a genuine work is far, far rarer. But this is what has happened at the Courtauld Institute of Art according to Telegraph. Nearly half a century after it was first deemed to be a forgery, albeit a brilliant forgery, scientific research has concluded the painting is an authentic work that may have even hung in the house of the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.
Courtauld’s latest research has revealed that The Procuress is a version of the 1622 brothel scene by the eminent Dutch painter, Dirck van Baburen and is depicted in the background of two works by Vermeer.
The Courtauld acquired the work in 1960 after it was donated as a van Meegeren and duly accepted it as a rare offering from one of most famed and gifted forgers of all time. The donor Professor Geoffrey Webb had served in Germany just after the Second World War. He received the painting in the Netherlands as a gift for helping with the restitution of works of art. He believed it was a Van Meegeren fake which had been recovered by the Dutch authorities in 1945 from the forger's villa in Nice.
Van Meegeren was possibly the greatest art forger of the 20th Century. He forged works from some of the world's most famous artists, especially Vermeer. He was exposed in 1945 after being accused of treason after selling a “newly-discovered” Vermeer to Hermann Goering. He saved his neck literally by painting for his life
Sadly The Procuress is not on view to the public due to its fragile condition, but may be viewed by appointment at the Courtauld.