Van Gogh painting authenticated after 9 years

A painting in the Kröller-Müller Museum has finally been confirmed as a work of Van Gogh, 9 years after being listed as "artist: anonymous." The large and lavishly crafted piece, titled "Still life with meadow flowers and roses," was unceremoniously stripped of its heritage in 2003 after being dismissed.

Its unusual size and anomalous signature had created an air of doubt around its creator and origin. However, new research has unveiled the history of the contentious work, and led to a u-turn on its authentication.

A team of researchers from the TU Delft, the University of Antwerp, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) Hamburg, the Van Gogh Museum and the Kröller-Müller Museum led an investigation to settle debate once and for all.

The team used a pioneering research technique, called MA-XRF (Macro Scanning X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry), to analyse the painting to great depth. In particular, the researchers wanted to study the painting underneath, that of two wrestlers which was discovered by an x-ray in 1998.

The new analysis not only determined characteristics that aligned it with Van Gogh's school in Antwerp, but also unveiled pigments which matched Van Gogh's palette. The final evidence that the work was indeed created by Van Gogh himself was found with the recognition of his trademark brushstrokes in the hidden painting. The mystery was finally solved.

In their report titled "Rehabilitation of a flower still life in the Kröller-Müller Museum and a lost Antwerp painting by Van Gogh," a fascinating and detailed history of the work is outlined. In a brief summary, the story begins with Van Gogh studying at the famous art academy in Antwerp, where he painted a large canvas painting of two wrestlers.

He then took that painting to Paris, where he painted the current work on top of it, without any preparation of removal. This explains the unusual size and colour intensity of the piece. From today, for the first time in its history, the flower piece will be given a prominent position among other works by Vincent van Gogh in the museum’s collection.

Further information & sources
The publication "Rehabilitation of a flower still life in the Kröller-Müller Museum and a lost Antwerp painting by Van Gogh" (authors: Luuk Struick van der Loeff, Matthias Alfeld, Teio Meedendorp, Joris Dik, Ella Hendriks, Geert van der Snickt, Koen Janssens and Meta Chavannes) is available as a prepublication in the museum shop (English language).

"Van Gogh: New Findings" (Van Gogh Studies deel 4) will be available from June 2012 and is published by WBooks under the auspices of the Van Gogh Museum.

Still life with meadow flowers and roses is on display from March 20 in the Kröller-Müller Museum, together with Van Gogh’s Roses and peonies and Flowers in a blue vase.

Source: Delft University

James Shaw


James Shaw

James is an assistant editor at IamExpat, and is the newest member of the team. Interests include travelling, parties, and his beloved Manchester United. From Manchester, UK, but now living...

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