In his Van Meegeren: An Annotated Bibliography, Frederik Kreuger suggests a long list of items that would fill in the gaps in his work, as he put it, including an item about the recovery of many works missing from Van Meegeren’s oeuvre. In 2008 I began such a search for the portrait of Jopie Breemer before Kreuger’s bibliography was published. I have encountered what seems to me to be resistance from people who might have clues to the solution of this puzzle. It is my hope that this paper may move research toward a solution, to encourage other researchers to answer the question of the whereabouts of Jopie Breemer’s portrait. I believe that the answer is dependent upon the willingness of sources to share what they know.
Needless to say, the personality and character of Van Meegeren is still a question of interest to scholars quite as much as the techniques he used to create passable art forgeries. In his second book, Van Meegeren: Master Forger, Scribner’s, 1967, John Godley seems to have found more facts or at least thought more deeply about the people and events of Van Meegeren’s life. But even in his second book, Godley wrote no account of any indelible stain regarding Van Meegeren’s involvement with De Kemphaan and his pro-Nazi associates who also were contributors to Teekeningen I nor of the gift of the book to Adolf Hitler. Guilt by association is never a wholly justifiable argument yet people will always wonder about Van Meegeren’s choices of his associations and in his beliefs and biases. Far better is it to look at the results of Van Meegeren’s actions and behavior: his involvement with the Nazi art-theft elite, his enormous profits from his dealings in his own forgeries, and his associations with Jews, the last so contrary to them prevailing ideology of Van Meegeren’s early political statements, to the stance taken by De Kemphaan contributors (with Van Meegeren’s imprimatur) and to the five-year long brutal German occupation of the Netherlands during which Van Meegeren hardly suffered.
One might ask: how could Van Meegeren spend years in the working and social company of so many outspoken Dutch and German Nazis with no thought as to the political positions they took? Did others assume that his close relationships with them were evidence that he shared their outlook? How could Van Meegeren have countenanced the racial diatribes for years on end and offer a gift to the Nazi Führer without realizing that these were not neutral acts? That he was not known personally to utter anti-Semitic words yet allowed others to do so in his name (De Kemphaan) and that he did not join any political party or movement yet was viewed as in agreement with what he observed – a passive onlooker and also an active commercial trader in art the Nazis wanted for themselves – does not relieven him of the responsibility of his own actions on behalf of those he worked closely with and helped to support. A moral and ethical man would have turned away from years of obnoxious and vicious propaganda in revulsion. Han van Meegeren turned his Nazi associations into profit. Any summing up of his behavior would place him among those with no moral compass, no ethical commitment, no firm grounding as a sympathetic (and far from an empathetic) human being. His portrait of Jopie Breemer is not offered as evidence of documentation that he saved Jopie from deportation and death in a concentration camp. If that is so, where is the evidence? Jopie Breemer might have been one who knew. Or his son may have known. We do know that it was Jopie wife’s who hid Jopie away.
Van Meegeren’s portrait of a Jew in a tallis requires some explanation. Would new evidence explain if not absolve Van Meegeren of the worst aspects of his political behavior? We cannot say absent compelling evidence. Did Van Meegeren’s early years with his emotionally brutal father develop in him some kind of emotional accord with a Jew whose was very early orphaned – both Jopie’s parent died when Jopie was young: his mother when he was fifteen and his father when he was twenty. Jopie’s siblings were much younger. These were critical parental losses for Breemer. For Van Meegeren there was the emotional absence of his father whose typical expression of fatherhood was to abuse his son verbally and brutally while Han’s mother did not intervene. Did these holes in their emotional lives bring Van Meegeren and Breemer together in some sort of bond or solidarity? Did Han van Meegeren view Jopie Breemer as someone he was sympathetic to because of some shared life experiences? It is possible that Jopie Breemer is a example of Van Meegeren’s humanity breaking through his armor against the cruelties (real and imagined) the artist endured. One can only hope that this sliver of evidence has emerged to cast Van Meegeren in a better light. Was Jopie Breemer of the tribe of Jesus, so often painted by Van Meegeren, his ticket to redemption?
Newspapers and databases
Archieven en Collecties at http://www.archieven.nl/nl/.
Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie (English version) at http://188.8.131.52/lang/EN.
Digitale bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse letteren at http://www.dbnl.org/. A searchable database of Dutch literature, language and culture, which includes literary texts, secondary literature, biographies, portraits and hyperlinks.
Dood in Nederland. Begraafplaatsen, Kerkhoven, en oorlogsmonumenten at http://www.dodenakkers.nl/home.html.
Haagse Kunstkring at http://www.haagsekunstkring.nl/.
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Historische Kranten – Nederlandse dagbladen uit de 17e, 18e, 19e en 20e eeuw. Online at http://kranten.kb.nl/. Articles researched in 20th century Dutch newspapers, 1900-1995. The database consists of selected newspapers; the latter date is as far as the database reaches at this time.
The Meegeren Website at http://www.meegeren.net/index.php.
Militia records at http://militieregisters.nl/en/ is a pilot project in the Netherlands covering the period from 1811 to 1940, It is an open source scannable index of military service records from the archives of almost all regions and municipalities in the Netherlands. The entries are for those who served in the Dutch militia between 1814 and 1941. They also confirm year of birth.
Database van Verdwenen Molens in Nederland at http://www.molendatabase.org/molendb.php.
National Archives of the Netherlands at http://en.nationaalarchief.nl/ Nederlandse Poëzie Encyclopedie at http://nederlandsepoezie.org/
Nedweb, Informationen für die Nederlandistik, Universität Wien at http://www.ned.univie.ac.at/.
Netherlands Civil Registration-Vital Records at http://www.familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Netherlands_Civil_Registration- _Vital_Records#Births_.5BGeboorten.5D
Online Familieberichten at http://www.online-familieberichten.nl/.
Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentie at http://ib.rkd.nl/.
Stadsarchief Amsterdam at http://stadsarchief.amsterdam.nl/english/home.en.html.
United Kingdom Marriages, 1796-2005.
University of Amsterdam Library at http://lib.uva.nl/primo_library/.
DeValk Lexicon Kunstenaars Laren-Blaricum at http://www.devalk.com/kunstenaars/index.html.
Wie Was Wie at http://www.wiewaswie.nl/.
World Vital Records at http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/.
Books and articles
Anderson, Anthony. “A Forgotten Chapter: Holland Under the Third Reich.” Transcript of a lecture at the University of Southern California on October 17, 1995, at http://www-lib.usc.edu/~anthonya/war/main.htm.
Arthur van Schendel. Introduction by H.A. Gomperts. Exh. Catalogue. ‘s-Gravenhage: Nederlands Letterkundig Museum en Documentatiecentrum, 1976.
Bailey, Anthony. Vermeer: A View of Delft. New York: Henry Holt, 2001.
Baneke, David. Synthetisch Denken. Natuurwetenschappers over Hun Rol in en Moderne Maatschappij, 1900-1940. Hilversum: Verloren, 2008. Chapter 4, “Technocratische Idealen: I.P. de Vooys,” pp. 98-118.
Binstock, Benjamin. Vermeer’s Family Secrets: Genius, Discovery, and the Unknown Apprentice. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Blankert, Albert. Vermeer of Delft. Complete Edition of the Paintings. With contributions by Rob Ruurs and Willem L. van de Watering. London: Phaidon, 1978.
Boer, H. de, Pieter Koomen, Martien Beversluis and Jan Feith. Han van Meegeren: Teekeningen I. ‘s-Gravenhage: Boucher, 1942.
Brandhof, Marijke van den. Een vroege Vermeer uit 1937: achtergronden van leven en werken van de schilder/vervalser Han van Meegeren. Utrecht/ Antwerp: Het Spectrum, 1979.
Brandhof, Marijke van den. “Het geval Van Meegeren.” Knoeien met het verleden. Onder talk van Z.R. Dittrich et al. (Utrecht [etc.], 1984), pp. 153-162.
Brandt, Paul. Catalogue of the Important Sale By Auction. Property of the Dutch Painter H.A. Van Meegeren at His Home Keizersgracht 321 at Amsterdam, Holland, on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 September 1950. Amsterdam: Paul Brandt, 1950.
Breemer, Jopie. De ontboezemingsbundel. Introduction by Gerrit Komrij. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1998.
Devoldere, Luc. “A Convenient Desert: The Low Countries as a Refuge for the Spirit.” The Low Countries, Yearbook of the Flemish-Netherlands Foundation “Stichting Ons Erfdeel” Jaargang 9, 2001, pp. 12-54,
Dolnick, Edward. The Forger’s Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century. New York: HarperCollins, 2008. Dutton, Denis. “Han Van Meegeren.” Encyclopedia of Hoaxes. Edited by Gordon Stein. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.
Euwe, Jeroen “The Dutch Art Market, 1940-1945.” http://www.erim.eur.nl/fileadmin/erim_content/documents/Jeroen_Euwe_-_The_Dutch_art_market_1940_1945.pdf.
Franits, Wayne E. The Cambridge Companion to Vermeer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Godley, John Raymond [Lord Kilbracken]. Van Meegeren: Master Forger. New York: Scribner’s, 1967.
Grafici in ballingschap: Henri Friedlaender en Paul Urban. Duitse grafisch vormgevers in het Nederlandse exil 1932-1950. Catalogus met een inleiding van Kurt Löb. Universiteitsbibliotheek Amsterdam, 1997.
Groot, Marjan. Vrouwen in de vormgeving in Nederland 1880-1940. Rotterdam: Publisher 010, 2007.
Grunewald, Michel. Klaus Mann, 1906-1949. Bern: Peter Lang, 1984, 2 vols. Hirschfeld, Gerhard. Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands Under German Occupation, 1940-45. Translated by Louise Wilmot. London: Berg Publishers, 1989.
Huussen, A.H. (Arend Hendrik), Jr. Henricus (Han) Antonius van Meegeren (1889-1947): documenten betreffende zijn leven en strafprocess. Zoetermeer: A.H. Huussen jr., 2009.
Koomen, Pieter. “De Teekenaar Van Megereen.” Maandblad voor de Beeldende Kunsten, XIV, 1942, pp. 12-17.
Koopmans, Ype. Japi en Bavink en de doorbraak van de moderne kunst. Het vroege proza van Nescio in een cultuurhistorische spiegel. Heerlen: Open Universiteit, 2013. Poortenaar’s portrait of Jopie Breemer is plate 8 on page 19. See http://www.ou.nl/Docs/Faculteiten/CW/oratie%20YKOOPMANS.pdf. Kraaijpoel, Diederik and Harry van Wijnen. Han Van Meegeren 1889-1947 en zijn Meesterwerk van Vermeer. Zwolle: Waanders, 1996.
Kreuger, Frederik H. Han van Meegeren. Meestervervalser. Diemen: Veen Magazines B.V., 2004.
Kreuger, Frederik H. Han van Meegeren Revisited. His Art & List of Works. Kreuger, 2010.
Kreuger, Frederik H. A New Vermeer: Life and Works of Han van Meegeren. 2d edition. Rijswijk: Quantes 2010.
Kreuger, Frederik H. Van Meegeren: An Annotated Bibliography: Followed by Subjects for Further Research. Kreuger, 2008.
Kruis, René and Gerrold van der Stroom. “The K Number.” Quaerendo, Volume 40, issue 3-4, January 2010, pp. 385-408.
Lelieveldt, Philomen B. Voor en achter het voetlicht: Musici en de arbeidsverhoudingen in het kunst- en amusementsbedrijf in Nederland, 1918-1940. Ph.D. Diss., University of Utrecht, 1998.
Lewin, Lisette. The Clandestine Book 1940-1945. 2d edition. Amsterdam: Van Gennep, 1983.
Litchfield, David R.L. The Thyssen Art Macabre. London: Quartet Books, 2006. Löb, Kurt. Exil-Gestalten. Deutsche Buchgestalter in den Niederlanden 1932-1950. Arnhem: Gouda Quint BV, 1995.
Lopez, Jonathan. The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han Van Meegeren. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 2008.
Mann, Klaus. “Das Doppelleben des Han Van Meegeren.” Auf verlorenem Posten: Aufsätze, Reden, Kritiken. Uwe Naumann and Michael Töteberg, editors. Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1994. pp. 439-448, 554n.
Mann, Klaus. “Les dessous de l’affaire Han Van Meegeren.” L’Âge Nouveau, no.29, 1948, pp. 64-71.
Mann, Klaus. “The Double Life of Han Van Meegeren.” Town & Country, vol.108, February 1948, pp. 88-89, 111-113, with illustration of Theo van der Pas on p. 89. This article with the new title “Van Meegeren: Art’s Master Forger,” was collected in an anthology Grand Deception: The World’s Most Spectacular and Successful Hoaxes, Impostures, Ruses, and Frauds. Edited by Alexander Klein. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1955. Pages 94-103, no illustration.
Micheels, Pauline. “Classical Music Life During the German Occupation.” De Tweede Wereldoorlog in Muziek. Nederlands Muziek Instituut. http://www.wo2- muziek.nl/nl/Landen/Overzicht%20Nederland/Organisatie%20concertleven/. Morris, Errol. “Bamboozling Ourselves.” The New York Times, 28 May, 29 May, 31 May, 1 June, 3 June, 4 June, and 17 June 2009. A seven-part series about Han van Meegeren.
Muntjewerff, Henk. “Tussen Kapitaal en Arbeid, Momenten Uit het Openbare Leven van de Dichter-Ingenieur, Isaäc Pieter de Vooys (1875-1955).” Jaarboek de Oranjeboom, 50, 1997, pp. 174-218. On p. 202 is Han van Meegeren’s portrait of De Vooys.
Oliveira, E. d’. De jongere generatie: (Vervolg of “De Mannen van ‘80”). Gesprekken met vertegenwoordigers van de nieuwere richting in onze literatuur; tevens een enquete naar enkele beginselen in ons nationaal geestelijk leven. 2d edition. Amsterdam, 1920. Text at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10514/10514-8.txt.
Pas, Wim van der. Theo van der Pas (1902-1986) Een leven met muziek. Oegstgeest: Theo van der Pas Stichting, 1998.
Renders, Hans. Gevaarlijk Drukwerk: een Vrije Uitgeverij in Oorlogstijd. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2004.
Renders, Hans, Lisa Kuitert and Ernst Bruinsma, eds. Inktpatronen: de Tweede Wereldoorlog en het Boekbedrijf in Netherlands en Vlanderen. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2006.
Renders, Hans. “Introduction.” Quaerendo, vol.40, issue 3-4, January 2010, pp. 237-240.
Renders, Hans. “Book Production and Its Regulation during the German Occupation of the Netherlands.” Quaerendo, vol.40, issue 3-4, January 2010, pp. 241-255.
Renders, Hans. “Hitler’s European Publishing Ambitions: A Plea for an International Perspective.” Quaerendo, vol.42, Special Issue, 2012, pp. 231-240. Ribbens, Arjen, Jopie Breemer en het Jopiehol. Een bijdrage tot de geschiedenis van de Amsterdamse bohème (1906-1914), Ph.D. Diss., University of Amsterdam, 1984.
Ribbens, Arjen. “O, hoe zoet is basterdsuiker; Herinneringen aan Jopie Breemer.” NRC Handelsblad, 16 October 1998, p. 8.
Schneider, Norbert. Vermeer 1632-1675; Veiled Emotions. Cologne: B. Taschen, 2001.
Schüller, Sepp. Falsch oder echt? Der Fall Van Meegeren. Bonn: Auer, 1953. Snow, Edward. A Study of Vermeer. Revised & enlarged. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
Steadman, Philip. Vermeer’s Camera; Uncovering the Truth Behind the Masterpieces. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Steinmetz-Ardaseer, Yvonne.“The Creative Reception of William Shakespeare in the Netherlands: The Case of Arthur Van Schendel.” M.Lit. Thesis, University of Birmingham, 1998.
Ubink, Jan. “Wit en Zwart: Een Beschouwing van den Kunstenaar Van Meegeren.” Haagsch Maandblad, 15 May 1942, pp. 243-248.
Vergeer, Charles. Arthur van Schendel. ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH, 1983.
Vosters, Leon. Han van Meegeren: meestervervalser. Vosters, 2008.
Werness, Hope B. “Han Van Meegeren fecit.” Denis Dutton, editor. The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983, pp. 1-57.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Jan Vermeer. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998. Woolf, Linda M. “Survival and Resistance: The Netherlands Under Nazi Occupation.” Paper presented at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, April 6, 1999. http://www2.webster.edu/~woolflm/netherlands.html.
Wynne, Frank. I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Forger. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006.
To: Thea Ekker-van der Pas, my most sincere thanks for the gift of research material from the Theo van der Pas Foundation and for information about her father Theo van der Pas; Alicia Larsson of Brandbergen, Sweden, a friend and always-resourceful researcher, for checking sources in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Spain and France and for her Swedish to English translations; Lucinda Karter, a knowledgeable neighbor, for her help in navigating the Bibliothèque Nationale de France; Dr. Frederik H. Kreuger for our exchange of e-mails and the information and help he provided; Arjen Ribbens for his help regarding his dissertation on Jopie Breemer and for providing a news article he wrote; Suz Massen, Frick Art Reference Library, New York, for her assistance in my research; Karyn Hinkle, Bard Graduate Center Library for her help; Jonathan Lopez for his lightning fast answer to my research query; Philippe Boucher, Midlaren, Netherlands for his help about Henri Friedlaender; Seangill Peter Bae, Director of Delivery Services, Columbia University Libraries, for his help in arranging with the University of Amsterdam in my obtaining a copy of the Arjen Ribbens dissertation; Emily Beckwith, Amsterdam, for sharing her sources with me; R.E. (Rob) Kollaard, Antiquariaat “Bij Nader Inzien,” The Hague, for his kindness. To Prof. dr. J.W. (Hans) Renders, University of Groningen, my special thanks for his thoughts and articles and his help with my research query. Thanks to Ariane Zwiers, Resource Centre, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.
My grateful thanks to the New-York Historical Society Library, the Bloomingdale Branch of the New York Public Library, Yale University Library, Columbia University Libraries, Frick Art Reference Library; and Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture Library for the use of their collections; and University of Amsterdam Library. Special thanks to the Friends of The City Library, Salt Lake City Public Library.
I hereby give my express permission to ROB SCHOLTE to reproduce online my article “Han van Meegeren and his Portraits of Theo van der Pas and Jopie Breemer.” Kindly note that the article carries the author’s copyright and was originally published at http://www.janetwasserman.com.
s/ Janet I. Wasserman, New York, New York, USA