Universiteit Leiden

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Henk Tromp

Confidential Adviser

Dr. H. Tromp

Short CV

Henk Tromp studied cultural anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. He was researcher and managing director of the Leiden Institute for Social Scientific Research at Leiden University from 1981 to 2000. Between 2000 and 2015 he worked at the Institute of Political Science and the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Leiden University. He has lectured at Leiden University and other Dutch universities on scientific conduct.

Henk Tromp is the Confidential Adviser for PhD's of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences and the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs.


In 1999 André J.F. Köbben and he published De Onwelkome Boodschap, of hoe de vrijheid van wetenschap wordt bedreigd (Unwelcome tidings or how the freedom of science is being threatened) (Amsterdam, Mets en Schilt, 206 p.) His book A Real Van Gogh, How the Art World Struggles with Truth. (Amsterdam University Press 2010, 352 pp.) has won wide acclaim and has been published in Chinese by Peking University Press in 2020.


'An endlessly fascinating book. Tromp probes the behavior of art-world figures who are involved with issues of authenticity: scholars and connoisseurs, museum advisors, art dealers and collectors. This is research of a kind that is seldom performed by art historians, who are more interested in whether a given work is genuine or not than in the process by which opinions are formed. Time after time, Tromp discovers that key agents allow their judgment to be guided by their own financial interest. In day-to-day practice, the ethics of this behavior is not questioned either in the courts, the art trade or the art-historical literature.' (Gary Schwartz - Financieel Dagblad)

"The art world wants to be tricked [...] That is certainly the conclusion one comes away with after reading A Real Van Gogh, Henk Tromp's thoroughly researched, highly readable, fascinating new book, which uses the history of van Gogh authenticity and forgery debates to discuss what happens in the art world when someone cries wolf. It's not a pretty picture for the expert who deigns to proclaim a work inauthentic." (Noah Charney - The Journal of Art Crime, 2010)

"A Real Van Gogh" is the sequel to an untranslated 1999 study by Mr. Tromp and Amsterdam University Prof. André J. F. Köbben titled "Unwelcome Tidings or How the Freedom of Science is being Threatened". Employing anecdotal and statistical evidence, they demonstrated how laboratory science can be undermined by a researcher's unconscious desire to please superiors or confirm the expectations of funders. Curious about similar patterns of self-censorship in the humanities, Mr. Tromp turned his attention to art scholars and their attempts to root out forgeries. A sober analyst of human behavior, he has refrained from any impulse toward finger pointing. But his portrait of the sustained and systemic failure of art connoisseurship in the Wacker case is damning nonetheless.” (Jonathan Lopez - Wall Street Journal, 2010)

‘ ... un livre troublant.’ (Jean-Pierre Stroobrants - Le Monde, 2013)

‘ ... ein fulminantes Buch.’ (Stephan Koldehoff - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 2013)

Confidential Adviser

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Faculteitsbureau
  • Emeriti FSW


  • No relevant ancillary activities
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