"New" Van Gogh Painting Discovered
This is a fascinating story about the discovery or "rediscovery" of a Van Gogh painting that has for the last 100 years spent a lot of time in attics. Declared a fake in 1908 and pass around from dealers until being purchased by its current owners at an unspecified time. From the New York Times:
The painting depicts dusk in the hilly landscape of Montmajour, in Provence, with wheat fields and the ruins of a Benedictine Abbey in the background. The area around Montmajour was a subject that van Gogh explored repeatedly during his time in Arles.Fred Leeman, a former chief curator of the Van Gogh museum and now an independent art historian and Van Gogh scholar based in Amsterdam, who has curated many exhibitions about van Gogh and published scholarly articles on his work, said he believed the work is “100 percent genuine.”He added, “There are, in hindsight, many pointers in his letters and entries in catalogues of the 1900s that have been linked to other paintings or misidentified.” Mr. Leeman said, “here, we see a painting that fits those descriptions exactly. And what also contributes to the proof is the advances in research that have been done with the pigments, and the new evidence is completely in harmony with what we expect from this painting.”Mr. Leeman said the work also contributes to an alternative to our understanding of the artist. “We have the impression of van Gogh as a very modern painter, but here he’s working in the tradition of 19th century landscape painting,” he said.The painting has been in the private collection of a family for several years and Mr. Rüger said that because of privacy concerns, he couldn’t release any more information about the owners.Until 1901, it was in the family collection once owned by Vincent’s brother, Theo, said Marije Vellekoop, the head of collections, research and presentation for the museum. His widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger managed that collection, and sold it to a Paris art dealer. In 1908, the art dealer sold it to a Norwegian collector, Ms. Vellekoop said. Shortly after that, Ms. Vellekoop added, “it was declared a fake, or not an original” and the Norwegian collector banished it to his attic, where it stayed until the current owners purchased it from him. Ms. Vellekoop declined to give any more information about the date of purchase or the owners.Two years ago, the current owner brought it to the Van Gogh Museum to seek authentication, and researchers from the museum have been examining it ever since, said Mr. Rüger. The museum recently concluded that the work was a genuine van Gogh painting because the pigments correspond with those of van Gogh’s palette from Arles.Louis van Tilborgh, the Van Gogh Museum’s senior researcher, who worked on the painting for the last two years, said that since 1991 the museum has developed a number of new techniques for identifying and authenticating works of art. He said that all those methods were put to use when they had the chance to look at this painting again.