We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

John Gillham Vermeer, Van Meegeren and Van den Berg: portrait of Yelle

oil on sail cloth

158 x 128 cm

Image courtesy the artist

The subject of this portrait is the Dutch-born Australian artist Jelle van den Berg, a friend of John Gillham’s, who writes his friend’s name as he pronounces it (Yelle). 'We met through a reproduction of a Vermeer that I did. He was involved with the Union Street Gallery [in Sydney] at that time,’ said Gillham in 2019 when asked about his Archibald work.

'The story of Vermeer, Van Meegeren and Jelle is, of course, the history of three Dutch painters. Vermeer is in his atelier; the girl is the same as in his The girl with the pearl earring. Jelle has entered Vermeer’s atelier and has started a portrait of Van Meegeren, the painter of tableaux after the style of Vermeer. That’s an interesting story in itself. I refuse to call him a faker of Vermeer’s paintings. Just a good painter who needed a subject,’ said Gillham.

Han van Meegeren (1889-1974) achieved notoriety in the 1940s for having created 'original’ works by Johannnes Vermeer (1632-1675) and other Dutch old masters.