New Van Gogh painting discovered
Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has announced that it has identified a long-lost Vincent van Gogh painting, the first such identification since 1928.
"Sunset at Montmajour," a landscape of trees, bushes and sky, was described in a letter Vincent wrote to his brother Theo, where he said he had painted it the previous day, July 4, 1888.
Museum experts said the painting was authenticated by letters, Van Gogh’s distinctive thick brush strokes and the physical material used. Director of the Van Gogh Museum Axel Rueger described the discovery as a "once in a lifetime experience" when he unveiled the painting this week in Amsterdam.
While the museum did not disclose how the painting had been recovered, it is known that the painting was listed among Theo van Gogh's collection as number 180, a number that can still be seen on the back of the canvas.
It was sold in 1901, but subsequently vanished until it re-appeared in the estate of Norwegian industrialist Christian Nicolai Mustad upon his death in 1970.
According to Mustad’s family, the French ambassador to Sweden had visited the collector soon after he had bought the painting and had suggested it was fake or had been wrongly attributed.
Mustad, convinced of its lack of worth, had then stored the painting in his attic. His family contacted the Van Gogh museum in 1991 to verify it, but the museum had not accepted the painting’s authenticity, due primarily to the lack of a signature.
Now, thanks to new research techniques and a two-year investigation, the museum has concluded that it is a genuine Van Gogh.
The museum said the painting now belongs to an unidentified private collector and will be on display at the museum from September 24, 2013.
The Dutch master’s work, of which he sold only one when he was alive, are now among the most valuable in the world. The Van Gogh museum houses more than 140 of his paintings and receives more than a million visitors annually.
The location of "Sunset at Montmajour" has been identified as Montmajour Hill near Arles, France, where Van Gogh was living at the time. The ruins of an abbey of the same name can be seen in the background of the work, on the left side.
In letters to his brother, Van Gogh said he considered the work a failure in several respects.
A researcher who worked on the identification said that rather "it belonged to a special group of experimental works that Van Gogh at times esteemed of lesser value than we tend to nowadays."