Just Read || Artworks in Jeffrey Archer's False Impression

After reading Jeffrey Archer's False Impression, I was eager to search for images of the paintings Archer mentioned in it, since I had not recognised some of them. Imagine my surprise (and then my "Well, duh" moment) when I discovered that many of the paintings mentioned did not exist and were part of his artistic licence. Obviously he would invent artworks to go along with his imagined world and people.

The events take place during and after the chaos of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the setting makes an ideal situation for a sneak attack by lead character Anna Petrescu. Anna works for Bryce Fenston, a man with an assumed identity, a love for Impressionist masterpieces, and a lack of sympathy that allows him and his bank to take over rich estates (who happen to have impressive and valuable art collections). Petrescu fails to work with Fenston's plan to swindle the Wentworth Estate out of its collection and just after she is booted out of the company - the sole person with the knowledge of what Fenston is planning to do with the Wentworth Van Gogh - the first plane flies into the WTC, where the bank's offices are located.

Petrescu manages to escape relatively unscathed and while everyone thinks she is dead manages to come up with a convoluted plan to allow the Wentworth Estate to sell the Van Gogh to cover the debt owed to Fenston Finance. What follows is a rush of an adventure as Petrescu travels into Canada, Romania, Japan, and Britain to rescue the Wentworth Van Gogh from the slimy paws of Fenston. Of course, she does have to dodge a hired assassin and an FBI agent who has been following her for months. But that's an easy task for a woman of Petrescu's talents.

This is the first Archer novel that I've read and once I made it through the introductory exposition, I could hardly put it down, mostly because I wanted to find out if my ideas about the twists would follow through. Which they did, a little disappointingly.

I enjoyed the art references, though, especially since Impressionism is one of my favourite fine art styles. I recognised the artists mentioned, but not the paintings, as I've said before. It turns out after some (I lie - a lot) of Googling, many of the artworks are simply made up or altered titles of original artworks by the artists concerned.

For your viewing pleasure, below is a list of artworks referenced in the novel that do exist, and below that, artworks I think may have served the basis for the names Archer references in the novel.

True Artworks:

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, Van Gogh [21]

{Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear by Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons}

Geishas in a Landscape [28]


Black Marilyn, Andy Warhol [41]

Study of a Mourning Woman, Michelangelo [52]

{By Michelangelo Buonarroti (Getty Museum) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons}

This piece was auctioned in 2001 for a final bid of 6 million British pounds.

Guernica, Picasso [192]

{By Moleskine - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons}

The Polish Rider, 'Rembrandt' [276]

{By Rembrandt - The Frick Collection, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Titus, the Artist's Son, 'Rembrandt' [277]

{Rembrandt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons}

Sunflowers, 'Van Gogh' [277]

{By Vincent van Gogh - Digital photo by User:Postdlf, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Vincent van Gogh did many paintings of sunflowers. See the works here.

The Madonna of the Pinks, Raphael [278]

{By Raphael - eostour.co.kr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

The Scream [361]

{Edvard Munch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons}

Fictional Artworks (with possible inspirations)

Sunset over Plymouth, Turner [20]

{By J. M. W. Turner - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by RHaworth using CommonsHelper. (Original text). 3 March 2009 (original upload date). Original uploader was Dino at en.wikipedia, Public Domain, }

Dancing Class With Mme Minette, Degas [28]

{The Dance Class By Edgar Degas - http://www.allartpainting.com/dance-class-p-3307.html, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Shot Red Marilyn, Andy Warhol [41]

Rothko [92]

In reference to Mark Rothko, an abstract expressionist.

{No 61 By Mark Rothko, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Fair use, Wikimedia Commons}

Willows at Vetheuil, Monet [245]

{Water-Lily Pond and Weeping Willow By Claude Monet - flickr, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}
However, when it was described in the novel, I actually pictured this one:

{Water Lilies and the Japanese bridge By Claude Monet - the-athenaeum.org [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Madame Duprez and her Children aka The Reading Lesson, Renoir [246]

{Mme. Charpentier and her children By Pierre-Auguste Renoir - http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/438815, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Dinner at the Cafe Guerbois, Manet [246]

{The Cafe Concert By Édouard Manet - GgEZL0iu5Gl9FA at Google Cultural Institute maximum zoom level, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

The Beresteyn Family, 'Rembrandt' [277]

{Portrait of a Man, probably a Member of the Van Beresteyn Family By Rembrandt - Metropolitan Museum of Art, online collection, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Satan Devouring His Children, 'Goya' [277]

{Saturn Devouring His Son by Francisco de Goya - [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Rosetti mistress Jane Burden [345]

View from the Bedroom, Matisse [376]

{Landscape viewed from a window, Tangiers By Henri Matisse PD-US, Wikimedia Commons}

The Dancing Instructor, Degas [376]

{Dance Exam By Edgar Degas - repro from art book, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Street Sweepers, Caillebotte [376-7]

{Les raboteurs de parquet By Gustave Caillebotte - ibiblio.org, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Reapers in th Field, Van Gogh [377]

{Wheat Field behind Saint-Paul with Reaper By Vincent van Gogh - repro from artbook, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

The Marriage at Cana, Caravaggio [399]

The below painting is by Paolo Veronese, but Caravaggio was a contemporary and possible competitor, so it is plausible that this might have been a subject he was interested in, too.

{The Wedding at Cana By Paolo Veronese, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}

Perseus and Andromeda, Tintoretto [400]

Tintoretto never attempted this subject, but he lived around the same time as Titian, and his version may have been similar.

{Perseus and Andromeda By Titian, Wallace Collection., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons}


I hope you enjoyed this journey into the art world with me! Have you read Jeffrey Archer's novel? Which of the paintings above are your favourite? I'd love to hear your opinion in the comments below!


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