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Autour de la Madeleine Renders

Un aspect de l'histoire des collections, de la restauration et de la contrefaçon en Belgique dans la première moitié du
XXe siècle

D. Vanwijnsberghe (ed.)
With contributions by C. Fondaire, P. Fraiture, S. Laemers, J. Lust, D. Martens, L. Mortiaux, P. Philippot, J.-L. Pypaert, J. Sanyova & S. Saverwyns. Met de medewerking van C. Bourguignon & J. Debergh
ISBN 978-2-930054-09-4
2008, KIK-IRPA, 307
Available in French
€ 30
Also for sale at the KIK-IRPA’s reception desk

December 1920. The Bruges banker and collector Emile Renders bought a painting in very poor condition at a public auction. It was a copy of one of the pearls of the Louvre: the famous Magdalene from the Braque Triptych by Rogier van der Weyden. Six years later, when it resurfaced, the unremarkable painting had mysteriously become a superb masterpiece, attributed to the entourage of Hans Memling. How can this strange metamorphosis be explained?


This book dismantles the strategy developed by Renders to build up, in record time, the most beautiful Belgian collection of Flemish Primitives of the inter-war period. It reveals how the banker joined forces with a man in the shadows, the restorer Jef Van der Veken, to "restore" old paintings of little value that he found in small Belgian private collections. It shows how Van der Veken's incomparable technical know-how, combined with Renders' financial genius, led to one of the most masterful art swindles of the 20th century. A trap into which one of the main Nazi leaders, Hermann Goering, fell, a satrap blinded by his megalomania, who acquired the Renders collection in its totality and at a high price. Without the interdisciplinary work of historians, art historians, restorers and the essential contribution of laboratories, this incredible swindle could not have been unmasked.

A catalogue raisonné of Jef Van der Veken's work is also published here for the very first time.... more than 300 paintings retouched, restored or even entirely painted by him.

Un livre aussi exemplaire que passionnant autour d'une affaire qui a tous les ingrédients d'un roman policier en vrai !

J. Foucart (La Tribune de l'Art)
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