Van Gogh Painting Resurfaces After Years in Obscurity

by Simone Rogers, age 17


A painting long considered fake was recently declared a Van Gogh original by a set of experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

The painting “Sunset at Montmajour” was originally made in 1888, during the most important period of Van Gogh’s life when he created most of the best work. Other masterpieces created at this time in his life include “Sunflowers,” “The Yellow House” and “The Bedroom.”

The painting depicts a forested landscape in the Provence of Montmajor at dusk. Out in the distance, you can see the ruins of an old abbey and wheat fields against a sky painted in varying strokes of color.

Vincent Van Gogh, recognized world over as the original “tortured artist,” was born in 1853. The son of a minister, Van Gogh, grew up in Holland, where he became an art dealer in the image of his uncle. He later worked in England and France.

In 1880, at 27 years old, he had enrolled at the Acadèmie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, Belgium. While there, he fell in love, had his heart broken, and dug into what would be a lifelong passion, painting.

According to the head of collections, research and presentation for the museum, Marijie Vellekoop, Vincent’s brother, Theo Van Gogh, once held ownership of the painting. Ten years after Theo's death in 1891 his widowed wife sold it to a Norwegian collector. The Norwegian collector, believed the painting was fake and kept it up in his attic where it remained until he died in 1970. The painting’s current owners brought the painting back to the museum in 1991, where it was once again declared a fake.

Since then, the museum has developed new techniques and strategies for judging the authenticity of art. Using these methods, researchers re-examined the painting, and finally declared it real.

The painting is currently set to display at the museum for a one year as part of the exhibition called “Van Gogh at Work.” After painting 900 works of art, it is believed Van Gogh took his own life in 1890. It wasn’t long before the world recognized the great talent that was lost. To this day, his artwork continues to influence generations of artists.

[Sources: New York Times, www.vangoghgallery.com]

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