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"The Artist's Discount Warehouse Studio"

David Tenears the Younger

This 17th-century Dutch Baroque painter is believed to be the first to "downmarket" fine art in the Netherlands and later in Holland. His Crazy Dave's Art-O-Rama near the Amsterdam waterfront appealed to the nouveaux riches who had prospered in Amsterdam's economic boom, knew nothing about art, but knew what they liked. Unlike the ateliers of more respectable painters, Tenears' place had a showroom with high-pressure salespeople, discounts and specials and a back room filled with cheap Belgian art students who could turn out a Caravaggio or Raphael knockoff in nothing flat. For a few guilders more a customer could "supersize it," to fill an awkward wall space.

Tenears also started many popular art fads, like the big-eyed Madonnas, the jesters on velvet, posters of popular entertainers and dogs playing whist. Far ahead of his time, he began renting copies of famous paintings for special occasions or for people who wanted to impress their friends. His fakes were very realistic. In a famous incident in 1677, an art patron brought one of Tenears' unsigned knockoffs of "Man with a Golden Helmet" to Rembrandt, asking the master if it was an original. Rembrandt studied the painting for a long while then, picking up a brush, he signed his name to it, commenting, "Het is nu" ("It is now.")

The artist's luck ran out when, during a lull in the tourist season, he applied his forgery skills to counterfeiting, momentarily forgetting that, although the Dutch had conquered both the Netherlands and Holland, they used different currency systems. He made the fatal mistake of putting the Netherlandish King's portrait on a Hollandaise 20-guilder note, and had his own head elevated on a pike above the city gates. Everyone commented on how lifelike he looked.


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