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Van Gogh fakes: the Wacker affair, with an illustrated catalogue of the forgeries

Walter Felichenfeldt

"Suspicion has been cast on some thirty works by van Gogh, put on the market by the art dealer Otto Wacker, which are now thought to be forgeries. Within a short space of time this has done more for the artist’s fame than his prophets were able to achieve in 30 years."*

This article considers the subject of 33 paintings attributed to van Gogh (figs. 1, 2), which were first pronounced genuine in the standard catalogue of his work, then collectively rejected as fakes, and at a yet later stage partially reclassified as genuine. Today it is an established fact that the pictures are fakes, so it is difficult to comprehend how neither the art experts nor the courts at that time were able to reach satisfactory conclusions.

While it cannot be denied that every popular work on art forgery scandals has its chapter on van Gogh and Wacker, only experts on van Gogh, and the few still left alive who knew Berlin in the 1920s, truly comprehend the significance of the name of Wacker.1

My father, Walter Feilchenfeldt, who, together with Grete Ring, was then partner and managing director of the firm of Paul Cassirer in Berlin, made the connection between a number of works supposedly by van Gogh, which he recognized as fakes, and Otto Wacker, thus unleashing the scandal which began in January 1928 with the opening of the van Gogh exhibition at Cassirer's, and ended in December 1932 with Wacker being found guilty of fraud and the falsification of documents.

The details of this affair, Otto Wacker's statements about the provenance of his pictures, and the embarrassing role played by the so-called art experts are nowadays, when all is said and done, of purely historical interest. The question of genuine and fake in van Gogh's work, however, remains a problem which has awaited a solution ever since Baart de la Faille produced the first standard catalogue of van Gogh’s oeuvre at the rime of the Wacker scandal in 1928.

  1. It is important to distinguish between three types of fake.
  2. Forgeries, that is to say works which were manufactured with intent to deceive.
  3. Works which were wrongly attributed to van Gogh simply because they were among Theo's estate.

A mixture of both, i.e. works which were wrongly ascribed to van Gogh having been signed "Vincent" with intent to deceive. In this case a court would regard the fraud as aggravated by the fact that documents had been forged.

This article is intended as a first step in the process of reducing the number of fakes listed in the standard catalogue of van Gogh's work. Only when the provenance has been established of all those works by van Gogh which did not originally belong to his brother Theo, and after the latter's death to his widow Johanna, will it be possible to eliminate from van Gogh's oeuvre those paintings which first appeared in the latter half of the 1920s, i.e. 35 years after they had (supposedly) been painted. This will be a greater number than the 33 works discussed here, whose pedigree extends back no further than Otto Wacker.

Although the provenance of these works was obscure right from the outset, de la Faille, Meier-Graefe and Rosenhagen had sufficient confidence in Otto Wacker to issue certificates of authenticity. Wacker, clearly possessed of a confidence trickster's charm, had succeeded in lulling these experts' suspicions and in gaining not only their cooperation but also that of distinguished fellow-experts. Hugo Perls and the Thannhauser, Matthiesen and Goldschmidt galleries bought "van Goghs" from him.2 All had certificates issued by de la Faille and Meier-Graefe, which Wacker invoked at every opportunity.3

It is perfectly standard practice in the art world to conceal one's supplier's identity. However, this is only accepted when the dealer in question has impeccable credentials. Wacker's patchy tale of the original owner being a Russian of the imperial dynasty who bought 30 van Goghs at an early date, illicitly transferred them to Switzerland and illegally commissioned an agent to sell them, and whose identity could therefore not be disclosed (a further reason given being the possibility of reprisals against relatives still living in the Soviet Union), should immediately have undermined his credibility to the extent that no court case need ever have been necessary.4

The legal proceedings, which were given extensive coverage in the press, did much to make van Gogh a household name. No catalogue of his work, no publication of his letters, no record prices and no major exhibitions netted him so much publicity as the Wacker scandal and the attendant battle of the experts.

Even before the First World War, van Gogh was appreciated more in Germany than in other countries. In the summer of 1914, at the time of the major van Gogh exhibition at Paul Cassirer's in Berlin, 120 of the artist's works were owned by Germans.5 Writing on the subject of art prices in 1913, Meier-Graefe stated: "Van Gogh's position in the market is rapidly approaching Cezanne's. His works fetch 20 to 40 times what they did ten years ago, and since his death, that is to say in little more than two decades, the price of his works has increased four to six hundredfold. Major works such as L'Arlesienne at Sternheim's and The garden of the asylum with Theo Behrens in Hamburg, which in 1890 cost 100 francs and in 1900 something between one and two thousand francs, might now even fetch more than the most expensive Cézanne."6

Carl Sternheim described how he saw L'Arlesienne in 1908 in the window of W. Zimmermann's gallery in Munich, and bought it for the then record price of DM 13,000.7 The other version of L’Arlesienne turns up in 1917 in Paul Cassirer's account books. That picture, which had belonged to the painter Bernt Grönvold, was sold to the Mannheim industrialist Sally Falk for DM 133,000.8 This is one of the highest prices ever recorded in the Cassirer books for a work of any school at that time. The Cassirer firm, though, had less to do with van Gogh than it had before the war, for relations with Johanna van Gogh had been severed. In Paris, too, there were very few works by van Gogh on the market. Grete Ring described this time as "the beginning of the great years of an illusory economic boom, which brought a brief period of genuine prosperity to the art market.

At the time there was a strong demand in Germany for works by van Gogh, which could not be satisfied by the pictures already in circulation. Art-lovers, particularly the Germans among them, do not buy pictures purely for their appearance; they tend to appreciate artists for their philosophical or literary qualities. To them van Gogh represents more than a painter of beautifully colored pictures, they revere in him the figure of tragic genius, the author of the moving revelations contained in his letters: van Gogh's paintings are somehow, at the same time, a kind of poet's autograph. In this light it is easy to understand the eagerness with which the Berlin dealers fell upon Wacker's goods. Here were the much sought-after late van Goghs—works that portrayed popular themes, at prices attractive to the bourgeoisie, within easy reach and fully authenticated. The readiness to accept the paintings was such that it dulled critical instincts, which were totally obliterated by the expert certificates. It is only fair to admit that under certain circumstances a conscientious dealer and art expert can be taken in by a forgery which awakes in him certain mental or perceptual associations which derive from his very familiarity with the genuine works of the master in question." 9

In this respect a special role is played by van Gogh's letters. Familiarity with them, coupled with knowledge of the artist's life, affects the way in which his works are regarded. The viewer often reads his own interpretation into the work of art, thus obscuring its visual impression. Johanna van Gogh was aware of this danger, which caused her to withhold the letters from publication until such time as her brother-in-law's work was sufficiently well known.10

When they examined the paintings, the van Gogh experts—in the first place Baart de la Faille, H. P. Bremmer and Meier-Graefe—were unable to reconcile their knowledge and expectations of van Gogh's work with the visual impression created by the works themselves.

The definitive judgment of the Wacker pictures thus lies in the technical field, as well as upon the question of their provenance.

Otto Wacker had tried various professions before becoming an art dealer in 1925. He succeeded in establishing a sound reputation with dealers and experts in the van Gogh field, and de la Faille and Meier-Graefe constantly stressed their faith in his integrity. Paul Cassirer's, too, in the persons of Walter Feilchenfeldt and Grete Ring, had also embarked on a cooperative venture with Wacker. Together they planned a major van Gogh exhibition on the occasion of the publication of de la Faille's standard catalogue of the artist's work. The drawings were to be shown in a new gallery set up by Wacker, and Cassirer's was to help arrange loans. This was to be followed by an exhibition of paintings in the Paul Cassirer showrooms, for which Wacker was in turn to arrange loans. The exhibition of drawings at Wacker's opened in December 1927. The catalogue listed 118 drawings.11 De la Faille had written the preface. Meier-Graefe had assisted, and are the same time a book of his appeared, published by Wacker, entitled Van Gogh der Zeichner. The press reviewed the exhibition favorably, and was impressed by the new gallery in Victoriastrasse.

The opening of the exhibition of paintings at Paul Cassirer's was imminent. The pictures had already been hung, with the exception of four which were still to come from Wacker. Space had been left for them on the walls, and when they arrived they were placed in their allotted positions, prior to being hung. At that moment Grete Ring was walking round the exhibition. She saw the canvases standing on the floor, stopped dead, then called for Walter Feilchenfeldt. Both agreed that all four were fakes.12 Wacker was informed, and the pictures were returned to him.

De la Faille's catalogue raisonné of van Gogh's work appeared at the same time,13 and careful study of this publication made it quite evident that not only these four, but a grand total of 33 suspect paintings were listed, all originating from Otto Wacker or a "Swiss private collection." The Thannhauser, Matthiesen and Marcel Goldschmidt galleries, which had acquired Wacker van Goghs, arrived at the same conclusion, informed the owners and took back the paintings. Hugo Peris, a lawyer by training (who, incidentally, had purchased most of these works), decided, just as Wacker had done, to insist on the authenticity of the Wacker pictures in which he had dealt. In December 1928 Matthiesen, represented by the Federation of German Art and Antique Dealers, instituted legal proceedings against Wacker.

It was not until 1932 that the public prosecutor's office finally brought the charges. The case opened on 6 April 1932. Vincent Willem van Gogh, the artist's nephew, was the first to be heard as a witness.14 In his testimony he stated that no pictures in his family's possession had been sold to a Russian. The only person to have bought works from his mother in the early years had been Paul Cassirer. His family had kept records of the pictures sold. The records did not indicate that a Russian had bought a large number of van Gogh's works. This testimony was in fact the most important of the whole trial. The works did not, therefore, originate from Theo's estate. So where did they come from? How could 33 canvases have disappeared one by one between 1890 and 1925 only to reappear collectively through the medium of Otto Wacker?

De la Faille had already put this question to the artist's nephew in January 1928, when the first suspicion arose concerning Wacker. Mr. van Gogh had replied to his query by letter dated 16 March 1928 (fig. 3).15 At the time, de la Faille must immediately have decided to list all the Wacker canvases in his Les faux van Goghs, which was published in 1930. When he was examined as a witness he exhibited renewed uncertainty and inconsistency, and stated that he had erred once again; he now believed five of the 33 pictures to be genuine after all.16

He claimed that he had been so overcome by doubt as to lose sight of the absolute objectivity required for his task. When asked on what this new certainty was based, de la Faille took the example of the questionable haystack painting, which he said had been executed in a manner that tallied exactly with the description given by Vincent in one of his letters.17 This argument was rendered even more absurd when he declared, in his press statement of 10 April 1932, that both the F625bis and F736 haystack pictures were genuine, whereas in the new edition of his catalogue of van Gogh's work, published in 1939 by Hyperion, he listed only F625bis as authentic. He then added six Wacker paintings, including F736, as genuine works in a supplement.18 He furthermore stressed that the Dutch experts H.P. Bremmer, W. Scherjon, Jos de Gruyter, and others, shared his view, while all the German specialists had collectively classified all the Wacker pictures as fakes.19 This elevated the battle of the van Gogh experts into a national power struggle between academics.

Meier-Graefe, in his testimony, also admitted that he had made a mistake. He now believed all the pictures to be fakes. At the time he had harbored no suspicions against Wacker, but now he had his doubts. He claimed that experts' opinions were of limited value. Collectors who bought pictures on the basis of such opinions were themselves to blame if they were duped.20

Hans Rosenhagen, who had reviewed the first van Gogh exhibition at Cassirer's in 1901 and had written positive reports on 14 of the Wacker canvases, now testified that he regarded the works as inferior but genuine

H. P. Bremmer, described by the press as a Dutch private tutor of art appreciation and advisor to Mrs. Kröller-Müller, stated that the distinction between genuine and fake could only be made on the basis of inner perception He attempted to find evidence for his inner perception in the use of line and color He believed eight pictures to be genuine and eight to be forgeries.21

Professor Ludwig Justi, Director of the Nationalgalene in Berlin, who in December 1928 had exhibited the van Goghs from the Kröller-Müller collection in the Kronpinzenpalais, having hung ten of the Wacker van Goghs in an adjoining room for comparative purposes, declared all Wacker pictures to be "forgeries beyond any doubt," adding that they were of variable quality Each lacked the signs of the artist's struggle with his subject.22

The Dutch painter A M de Wild submitted the results of pigment tests Resin traces had been found in the paint of the Wacker pictures which were not present in the paint used by van Gogh.23

The restorer Kurt Wehite produced X-rays of a genuine and a fake van Gogh which clearly showed a difference in the technique of the two paintings.24 Ironically, the picture used as the control in this experiment was the Wheatfield with reaper (figs 4, 5) which was classified as a forgery in the 1970 catalogue 25 It had belonged to the Nationalgalene, and went missing during the Second World War, so it is impossible to use present-day expertise to arrive at a stylistic judgment The origin of this "genuine" picture cannot be traced straight back to the van Gogh family The trail leads instead to the Paris art market, thus making it quite possible that it too was a fake If this is indeed the case, the X-ray would have proved only that the two canvases were painted by different forgers.

16 Maart 1928

Zeer geachte Heer de la Faille,
Naar aanleiding van ons gesprek van heden
morgen heb ik eens nagegaan of ik eenige
notitie kon vinden over een dertigtal
schilderijen, die vroeger aan mijn moeder en
mij zouden behoord hebben, en die nu in een
Zwitsersche collectie zouden zijn.

Ik heb niets kunnen vinden daaromtrent, terwijl
ik mij persoonlijk ook niets herinner.

Alleen zag ik dat omstreeks 1893 een zaaier
in anders handen is overgegaan, terwijl in
1906 Cassirer een Zouaaf heeft gekocht (Dezelfde beide titels noemde U mij).

Overigens is Cassirer de eenige geweest die meer dan dertig schilderijen van mijn moeder
kocht.

Later zijn door Bernheim, du Bois, e.a. naar
mijn weten ook nooit zo 'n groot aantal overgenomen.

De waarschijnlijkheid lijkt mij dus niet groot
dat mijn moeder over deze aangelegenheid heeft
gecorrespondeerd.

Met vriendelijke groet teeken ik.

hoogachtend en dw.

v.g.

3 Letter from V. W. van Gogh to J.-B. de la Faille, 16 March 1928

The situation was further confused by the fact that the police found and impounded a further copy of the subject after searching Wacker's house in Düsseldorf (fig. 6).26 Wacker's father was a painter and his brother a restorer. The impounded picture is stored in the Nationalgalene in East Berlin, together with Kurt Wehlte's X-rays. As can be seen from the photograph (fig. 7), the paint has sprung in many places, a process which was already beginning to affect the Wacker van Goghs at the time of the trial.

Ludwig Thormaehien, curator under Justi at the Nationalgalerie, gave a well-reasoned, art-historical discourse during which he drew attention to unconvincing color combinations and incorrectly interpreted motifs in the Wacker pictures. He believed that they had been forged on the basis of drawings which the forger had misread.27

Hellmuth Ruhemann, chief conservator at the Berlin Staatliche Gemäldegalerie, gave evidence on the basis of scientific analysis and of color and cleaning tests. He stated that these had shown beyond doubt that 11 of the 16 works which had been examined were forgeries.28 He referred to dirt and indentations which had been artificially introduced. It was clear from this that the paintings had been executed with the deliberate intention of passing them off as genuine.

Walter Feilchenfeldt and Grete Ring testified that they had seen all these pictures over the last few years on widely differing occasions, and had rejected them either on the grounds that they were indifferent works or that they were fakes.29 They had also made enquiries in Russia concerning the dubious owner. There was no knowledge there of any collector owning works by van Gogh. Details of the Wacker affair had got as far as the Soviet Union.

Franz Zatzenstein of the Matthiesen Gallery testified that he had briefly commissioned Wacker to sell the Olive grove from the Mauthner Collection. Immediately afterward, Wacker offered two previously unknown versions of the same subject for sale.30

Justin Thannhauser testified that he had held a van Gogh exhibition in 1927. Wacker had offered him a picture which he had bought, despite its dubious origins. It was exhibited in Paris and sold to an American buyer. Thannhauser had taken the painting back.

The verdict was announced on 19 April 1932. The court found Wacker guilty of cumulative fraud, in some cases combined with the falsification of documents. Some of the canvases were signed, and in three cases Wacker had lied about a work's provenance. The sentence, after appeal, was 19 months' imprisonment and a fine of DM30,000.31

After the war, Otto Wacker lived in East Berlin. He was known to the staff of the city's Nationalgalerie, but had abandoned the art business.

Today we must ask ourselves the same question that was asked at the time. What are the characteristics of forged van Goghs?

Theodor Stoperan, the managing director of Paul Cassirer's before the First World War, later published an article on this subject which deserves particular mention, since he makes the point that one is dealing with deliberate swindlers in the case of fakes of this type. "It was quite clear to me," he wrote, "having had dealings with van Gogh's works since 1901, and having assembled and hung some 12 van Gogh exhibitions, that the 16 paintings brought together in the Kronprinzenpalais were deliberate forgeries. They had been made to look like van Goghs, with the intention of selling them as the genuine item. The paintings' spuriousness is betrayed not only by artistic elements, which form the most important criterion for the expert. There are differences between genuine van Goghs and these forgeries which are evident to every layman.

All genuine works painted by van Gogh during or after his stay in Paris are painted on typical French canvas. The forgeries, on the other hand, are not painted on French canvas.

Most of the forgeries have small canvas imprints, intended to create the impression that newly painted pictures had been placed on top of one another while still wet. If that had indeed been the case, such impressions would have extended across the entire surface of the painting, and would not have been confined to only a few areas. Marks of this kind are not found on genuine works by van Gogh.

The paint on all the forged canvases shows slight cracks, or "craquelure." This, too, is never found in genuine works by van Gogh. The only cracking found in certain genuine works are longer cracks in the paint caused by rolling up the canvas. Van Gogh always painted alla prima and never worked with layers of color, and it is for this reason that his pictures were never affected by craquelure.

All the forgeries are impure in color, they give a muddy, botched impression, they have a tortured look, they lack freshness. The colors of the genuine works, by contrast, are always clear, they gleam and shine like precious stones. Van Gogh never pamted with toned-down colors, a fact he even mentions in his letters. Because of this, and because he always painted his canvases in a single, uninterrupted flow, they have that wonderful enamel, that shine and that freshness which no forger can imitate."32

It is apparently easy to make a superficial copy of a work by van Gogh. It even seems that it is not too difficult to capture van Gogh's spirit in such forgeries, or what the beholder considers to be his spirit. Since he often pamted the same subject more than once, the existence of a number of versions of a painting is not in itself cause for suspicion. What the forger invariably lacks, however, since he must make the copy sufficiently different to ensure its credibility, is a relationship with the subject. For in the forgery one always finds passages which are incomprehensible, for the simple reason that the forger, in his turn, failed to comprehend the model.

That the Wacker paintings were forgeries seems to me today to be quite indisputable. However, whether they were all the work of a single individual or of the same date is a more difficult matter, since they have disappeared and can no longer be examined. If one assumes, though, that the forgeries were based on originals, one is left with the interesting question of where the latter were at the probable time of the forgery. It turns out that a large proportion of those originals were in the Cologne Sonderbund exhibition of 1912. The remainder were either in accessible German collections, or use was made of van Gogh's drawings, some of which even belonged to Wacker.

The three canvases which were not directly modeled on any existing work by van Gogh had come from Paris art dealers, and clearly considerably pre-dated the forgeries which did have direct models.

Amédée Schuffenecker and his brother Emile, the painter, are suspected of at least having tampered with works by van Gogh. Consider F776, the version of Daubigny's garden in which the cat has been painted over.33 It was reproduced in a Paris auction catalogue of 24 March 1900, and clearly contained a cat at the time. Both versions, F776 and F777, were in the possession of Amédée Schuffenecker, and the cat then vanished from F776.

The first documented forgeries or erroneous attributions are two Arles landscapes which Julien Leclercq removed from the van Gogh exhibition at Bernheim-Jeune in 1901. They belonged to Theodore Duret and were described in Meier-Graefe's Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst as "two curious landscapes."34 In the exhibition catalogue, which he dedicated to Johanna van Gogh, Julien Leclercq crossed out numbers 56 and 57 and added the explanation- "Withdrawn from the exhibition as not being by Vincent. Initially included by me sight unseen."35

De la Faille speaks in his Les faux van Gogh of Theodore Duret The latter's book on van Gogh, larded with forgeries and erroneous attributions, and published by Bernheim-Jeune in Paris in 1916, makes quite astonishing reading today. It even mentions M. Proux, the Asnières collector, who possessed several dozen fake van Goghs.36

Many of the works wrong attributed to van Gogh are listed in the 1928, 1939 and sadly even the 1970 edition of de la Faille's catalogue raisonné. Of the Wacker pictures the most recent edition lists the Two poplars on a road through the hills (F639) with reservations, that is to say accepted as genuine by de la Faille and W J de Gruyter, and rejected by J G van Gelder, A W Hammacher, J Hulsker and H Gerson, whereas The fields (F812), rejected by de la Faille, is listed as genuine.

The Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh was the first to make the praiseworthy attempt to eliminate false attributions from van Gogh's oeuvre. The 1987 museum catalogue disallows four works previously classed as genuine.37 Unfortunately, the Kröller-MülIer Museum's 1980 inventory catalogue has undiscriminatingly adopted all the works listed in the 1970 edition of de la Faille, though most of the dubious works are at present in storage.38

It should be possible, with the aid of the sales records and other documents belonging to the van Gogh family, Andres Bonger's 1891 inventory, the Cassirer account books, and documents from the Vollard estate and the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, to establish the early provenance of the paintings, and thus their authenticity. In the case of works which suddenly and inexplicably surfaced, after a matter of decades, on the Paris or Berlin art market, it must be possible, by subjecting them to close scrutiny and to the latest scientific tests, to determine whether they are genuine or fake.

Grece Ring concluded her excellent essay on the Wacker case with similar thoughts "Technical methods of examination are welcome when their role—as in this case—is confined to that of an auxiliary science. Precedence must always be given to intuitive, subjective human perception, aided and checked as it fortunately can be by technological means. The final and most certain hallmark of a forgery is that, once unmasked, it is immediately reduced to nothingness."39

The last word, however, should go to Mr. van Gogh, the artist's nephew, who left his mark on the reception history of van Gogh, first together with de la Faille, then with Jan Hulsker. "Despite the incontrovertible proofs which I had in my possession, I ran up against an impenetrable wall which had been erected by rich and powerful people, in whose interest it was to prevent all secrets from being revealed."40

Our generation is no longer able to unveil those secrets. We shall, however, using de la Faille as a basis, compile a catalogue raisonné of Vincent van Gogh's work which, with the aid of information now at our disposal on the origins of the pictures, and utilising the possibilities for dating the works provided by his letters, will present an analysis of the artist's oeuvre. This may reduce the myth surrounding the man, but for the first time it will do Justice to the reality of van Gogh's genius, his development, his sense of color and his artistic intentions and aspirations.

Zürich SWITZERLAND

Notes

* Die Weltbühne, 15 February 1929: "Etwa dreissig van Goghs, die der Kunsthändier Otto Wacker auf den Markt gebracht hat, sind ais Fälschungen verdächtigt worden. Damit ist in kurzer Zeit mehr für des Künstiers Ruhm geschehen, als seine Propheten in dreissig Jahren vollbringen  

1 See Cornelis Veth, Falsche Experten? - Falsche Expertisen!. Berlin [1932]; Frank Arnau, Kunst der Fälscher—Fälscher der Kunst, Düsseldorf 1956, pp. 185-97; Sepp Schüller, Fälscher, Handler und Experten Munich 1959, pp. 106-20; Lawrence Jeppson, The fascinating frauds, New York 1970, pp. 81-103.

2 See J.-B. de la Faille, Les faux van Goghs, Paris & Brussels 1930, p. 3.

3 Ibid.-, pp. 5-i2.

4 See "Der Brief des unbekannten Russen," Berliner Tageblatt, 12 April 1932.

5 See Walter Feilchenfeldt, Vincent van Gogh & Paul Cassirer, Berlin: the reception of Van Gogh in Germany from 1901 to 1914 (Cahier Vincent, 2), Zwolle 1988, p. 42.

6 Julius Meier-Graefe, "Handel und Händler," Kunst und Künstler 11 (1913), p. 206: "Van Gogh steht aufdem Markt gegenwartig auf annähernd demselben Niveau wie Cézanne und ist in den letzten zehn Jahren um das Zwanzig- bis Vierzigfache, seit seinem Tode, also fast innerhalb zwei Dezennien, um das Vier- bis Sechshundertfache gestiegen. Hauptwerke wie die Arlésienne bei Stemheim oder der Irrenhausgarten bei Theo Behrens in Hamburg, die um das Jahr 1890 hun-dert, um das Jahr 1900 etwa tausend bis zweitausend Francs kosteten, dürften momentan sogar hóher ais die teuersten Werke Cézannes be-zahtt werden."

7 Carl Stemheim, Vorkriegs Europa im Gleichnis meines Lebens, Amsterdam 1936, p. 132.

8 Cassirer account books, in the author's possession.

9 Grete Ring, "Der Fall Wacker," Kunst und Künstler 31 (1932), p. 160: "...den Beginn der grossen Jahre der wirtschaftiichen Schein-blute, die dem Kunsthandel eine kurze wirkliche Blüte gebracht hat-ten. Damals herrschte in Deutschland ein ausgesprochenes Bedurfnis nach Bildern van Gogh's, das sich aus dem bekannten Material nicht befriedigen liess. Der Amateur, besonders der deutsche, kauft nicht ausschliesslich nach optischen Gesichtspunkten: die Neigung zu einem Kunstler geht bei ihm ofters über das Gedankliche, das Litera-rische. In van Gogh sieht er nicht nur den Schopt'er farbenschoner Bilder, er verehrt in ihm die Personlichkeit mit dem tragisch-genia-lischen Lebensschicksal, den Verfasser der erschutternden brieflichen Bekenntnisse: van Gogh'sche Bilder sind—zugespitzt formuliert— gleichzeitig eine Art Dichterautogramme. Es erscheint danach ver-standlich, wenn die BerHner Handler sich zu der Wacker'schen Ware drangten: hier gab es die gesuchten spaten van Goghs, die beliebten Sujets darstellend, zu burgerlichen Preisen, mímelos greirbar, voll bestatigt. Die Bereitwilligkeit zur Aufname der Bilder betáubte den kritischen Sinn, den die schutzende Expertise voliends ausschaltere. Man muss gerecht sein und gestehen, dass unter bestimmren Vcr-haitnissen das falsche Bild auch den gewissenhat'ten Handler und Kenner tauschen kann, well es bei ihm gegebenenfalls Gedanken- und Empnndungsassoziationcn auslost, die er gerade aus seiner nahen Kenntnis des echten Werkes eines Meisters gewonnen haben mag."

10 See Vincent van Gogh: Briefe an semen Bruder, Berlin 1914, foreword by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger.

11 Exhib. cat. Vincent van Gogh: erste grosse Ausstellting seiner Zeichnungen und Aquarelle, Berlin (Otto Wacker) 1927.

12 They were F418bis, F527bis, F625bis and F691.

13 J.-B. de la Faille, L'Oeuvre de Vincent van Gogh, Paris & Brussels 1928.

14 See "Die falschen van Gogh's," Berliner Tageblatt, 3 April 1932.

15 Letter from V.W. van Gogh to J.-B. de la Faille, 16 March 1028, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh (Vincent van Gogh Foundation), Amsterdam.

16 Statement by J.-B. de la Faille, Berlin, 10 April 1932. The works which he now accepted as genuine were F418, F523, F625bis, F639 and F736.

17 See "Fünf van Goghs echt?," Berliner Tageblatt, 11 April 1932.

18 J.-B. de la Faille, Van Gogh, Paris 1939, the genuine pictures being F385, F523, F418, F736, F614, F639.

19 Ibid., p. 553.

20 "Wenn Sachverständige irren...," Berimer Börsenzeitung, 17 April 1932.

21 "Sachverstandige im Van-Gogh-Prozess," Berliner Tageblatt, 12 -April 1932, genuine F385, F418, F523, F614, F625 bis, F639, F736, F824, fake: F387, F42I, F616, F685, F691, F813, F705, F713.

22 "Justi's Gutachten * Berliner Tageblatt, 13 April 1932.

23 "Drei Maler sollen im Van-Gogh-Prozess aussagen,' Berliner Tageblatt 14 ApnI 1932.

24 "Van Gogh im Rontgenbild," Berliner Tageblatt 14 April 1932.

25 J -B de la Faille, The works of Vincent van Gogh his painting and drawings, Amsterdam 1970, p. 594.

26 Theodor Stoperan, "Was wird aus den van Gogh Falschungen?," Das Kunstblatt (13) 1929, p. 346.

27 See note 24.

28 "Van Gogh Prozess vor dem Ende," Berliner Tageblatt, 14 April 1932.

29 "Woher kommen die van Goghs?," Berliner Tageblatt, 8 April 1932.

30 "Das Urteil gegen Wacker," Frankfurter Zeitung und Handelsblatt, 20 April 1932.

31 Stoperan, loc. cit. (note 26).

32 Ibid : "Die 16 im Kronprinzenpalais vereinigten Bilder haben bei mir, der ich mich seit 1901 mit van Gogh beschäftigt und etwa 12 Ausstellungen seiner Werke zusammengestellt und gehängt habe, keinen Zweifel darüber gelassen, dass es sich um absichtliche Fälschungen handelt. Um Bilder, die in der bestimmten Absicht hergestellt sind, den Anschein echter van Gogh's zu erwecken und als eigenhändige Arbeiten von van Gogh in den Handel gebracht zu werden. Aber nicht nur künstlensche Gründe, die für den Keenner massgeblich sind, sprechen für die Unechtheit dieser Bilder Es gibt zwischen den echten van Goghs und diesen Fälschungen auch Unterschiede, die jeder Laic sehen kann.

1 Jedes echte Bild von van Gogh aus seiner Zeit während oder nachdem Pariser Aufenthalt ist auf der typischen französischen Malleinwand gemalt. Die Fälschungen sind auf andere, mcht auf französische Leinwand gemalt.

2 Auf den meisten Fälschungen sind kleine Abdrücke von Leinwand sichtbar, die den Eindruck hervorrufen sollen, als ob frisch gemalte noch feuchte Bilder aufemandergeiegt gewesen seien. Wäre das der Fall gewesen, so müssten sich die Abdrücke über die ganze Bildfläche erstrecken, nicht nur auf cinzelne Stellen beschränken. Bei echten Arbeiten von van Gogh findet man Abdrücke dieser Art nicht.

3 Bei allen talschen Bildem zeigt die Farbe kleme Sprünge, sogenannte Craquelüren, diese findet man bei keinem echten van Gogh. Höchstens weisen einige echte Arbeiten gerade, längere Brüche der Farbe auf, die durch das Aufrollen dieser Bilder entstanden sind. Van Gogh hat immer al pnma gemalt und nie verschiedene Farben übereinandergesetzt, deshalb sind seine Bilder auch nicht craqueliert.

4 Alle Fälschungen sind unrein m der Farbe, sie machen einen truhen. vermanschten Eindruck, man merkt ihnen das Verqualte an, sie haben keine Frische. Die echten Bilder sind stets von klarer Farbe, sie glänzen und leuchten wie Edelsteine. Van Gogh hat stets mit ungebrochenen Farben gemalt, wie er ja auch in seinen Briefen schreibt; dadurch und weil er seine Bilder stets in einem Guss flott heruntergemalt hat, haben sie das wundervolle Email, den Glanz und die Frische, die ihm kem Fälscher nachmachen kann."

33 De la Faille, op cit. (note 18), p. 520.

34 Julius Meier-Graefe, Entwicklungsgeschichte der modernen Kunst, Stuttgart 1004, p 120: "zwei merkwürdige Landschaften."

35 Julien Leclercq, exhib cat Van Gogh, Paris (Galerie Bernheim-Jeune) 1901, handwritten annotation, library of the Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh (Vincent van Gogh Foundation), Amsterdam "Suppnmés de I'Exposition comme n'etant pas de Vincent Je les avais ajouté d'abord sans les voir."

36 De la Faille, op cit (note 2), p. 16.

37 Evert van Uitert and Michael Hoyle (eds.), The Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam 1987, p 365 (rejected works F215b, F215c, F215d, F233).

38 See A detailed catalogue of the paintings and drawings in the collection of the Kröller-Müller National Museum, Otterlo 1980.

39 Ring.op cit (note 9), p 165 "Die technischen Prufungsmethoden sind uns willkommen, wenn sie, wie im vorliegenden Falle, als Hilfswissenschaften auftreten, pnmär bleiben muss die intuitive, subjektive menschhche Erkenntnis, die von den Ergebinssen der Technik glücklich gestützt und kontrolliert werden kann. Es ist das letzte und sicherste Kritenum einer Fälschung, dass sie, einmal durchschaut, sogleich zum nichts herabsinkt."

40 "Chronik: die falschen van Gogh Bilder," Kunst und Künstler 28 (1939), p 262: "Trotz unanfechtbarer Beweise, die ich in den Händen hielt, stiess ich auf eine undurchdringhche Mauer, die von reichen und mächtigen Leuten errichtet war, in deren Interesse es war, mcht alle Geheimnisse erschliessen zu lassen."


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