In Dan Friedkin’s 2020 historical drama The Last Vermeer, the protagonist Han van Meegeren (played by Guy Pearce) takes the stand to defend himself in court. Van Meegeren stood accused of selling paintings by Johannes Vermeer to Nazi officers, a crime of collaboration that carried the death penalty. In the film’s climax, Van Meegeren reveals that he did not in fact sell genuine Vermeers to the Nazis: he had forged every single one. Once his deception was revealed, Van Meegeren called out into the hubbub of the courtroom: “Only one minute ago, these paintings were considered sublime and priceless. Now they are worthless and not one brushstroke has changed!”
Archivists, historians, librarians, and researchers all confront ethical concerns in the course of research. Yet among the ethical questions that researchers can ask themselves, one of the most troubling might be “should this object have been made at all? And what do I do about that now?” Librarian Megan Rosenbloom’s research tackles these kinds of controversial objects: her book discusses anthropodermic bibliopegy, or books bound in human skin.
Abstract: The body of the early-modern ruler would never truly be his own. Instead, it served as the physical embodiment of the broader nation state. For the Hapsburgs in the sixteenth century, armor was one key method for uniting the physical body of the king with the military prowess of the nation. This process began at a young age: in the case of Philip III, at the age of seven, when he received a suit of armor produced by Milanese armorer Lucio Piccinino. This paper unites a visual study of gauntlets made for Philip III with studies of the contemporary portraits of Philip III by artists at the Hapsburg courts and historical analysis of Phillip’s education. By analyzing each of these sources, it becomes clear that Phillip’s prince hood was caught in a crossroads between the ancient and the modern. He at once embodied the classical heritage of Greece and Rome, indicated by the decorative program of the armor, and the future of the country, suggested by the armor’s contemporary form and function.
Thank you to the editing team at the Coalition of Master’s Scholars on Material Culture.