Hidden for a century, 'fake' is actually a Van Gogh

AMSTERDAM Mon Sep 9, 2013 10:49pm EDT

A painting titled ''Sunset at Montmajour'' is seen in this handout photo received from The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on September 9, 2013. REUTERS/Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) Sunset at Montmajour, 1988. Private collection/Handout via Reuters

A painting titled ''Sunset at Montmajour'' is seen in this handout photo received from The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on September 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) Sunset at Montmajour, 1988. Private collection/Handout via Reuters

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A French landscape painting stored in an attic and kept from public view for a century because it was considered a fake is the work of Dutch master Vincent Van Gogh, a museum said on Monday citing new research.

"Sunset at Montmajour", which shows twisted holly oaks and a distant ruin bathed in the light of the setting sun, was painted in 1888 when Van Gogh was living in Arles, in the south of France.

The work, owned by a private collector, will go on show at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam later this month for a year.

Museum director Axel Rueger described the discovery of a new work by Van Gogh as "a once in a lifetime experience" as the painting was unveiled at a press conference on Monday.

"What makes this even more exceptional is that this is a transition work in his oeuvre, and moreover, a large painting from a period that is considered by many to be the culmination of his artistic achievement, his period in Arles," Rueger said.

As recently as 1991 the Van Gogh Museum had concluded that the painting was not by the Dutch artist when contacted by the owners of the work for an opinion.

But thanks to new research, including analysis of the pigments in the paint used and their discoloration, as well as letters from Van Gogh himself, the museum has changed its view.

In a letter to his brother Theo dated July 5, 1888, Vincent described the scene he had painted the previous day, but expressed his disappointment at the end result, writing: "I brought back a study of it too, but it was well below what I'd wished to do."

The work was later listed in one of Theo's catalogues, and then reappeared in 1970 in the estate of a Norwegian industrialist, Christian Nicolai Mustad, who had collected the works of Edvard Munch.

The Mustad family believed the painting had been bought by Mustad in 1908 but that he was advised later on that it was a fake or wrongly attributed, and banished it to the attic.

(Reporting by Sara Webb; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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Comments (2)
WinslowWilson wrote:
I’ve been watching this story on other web sites and as an artist here in the US have to make some observations.

Note how the greedy little world descends upon the painting now. When Van Gogh painted this, he would have gladly sold it for just a few bucks in order to buy more paint. He couldn’t sell his paintings for a dime when he was alive.

Why? Because people have no taste for anything spiritual. The only reason most people want to own a Van Gogh painting is for the sake of their ego. They want to adorn their ego and be able to say they own one and impress the world with what they own.

Van Gogh’s name did not carry that kind of weight when he was alive. Nobody had heard of Van Gogh the painter so nobody wanted his work. It goes without saying that they could not see the beauty and intense power contained in the energy pouring from the canvas. The world had to be schooled first by a few enlightened souls who were able to see real art for what it is and purchase his work. They did it because his work exemplifies passion for the raw beauty of life, they could see this and wanted its presence in their life by putting it in their home.

Art Collectors, curators and people in general should never fool themselves that they have this ability.
They are the blind being led by the ego which always has the handicap of blindness. Proof positive can be shown by the government of the USA which spends ( 5/8 of one percent) toward the endowments of the arts. Pathetic when you think of the cost of just one stealth fighter which is more than 50 times that. We just gave Israel 30 Free Stealth fighters, we crank them out so quickly.

I’m not saying that we should invest in the Arts, but I do think it might be better than investing in Death Machines. In fact I think we should just do away with the endowment for the Arts. Our meager one fifth of one percent makes us look embarrassing to countries like those in Europe. Let’s just tell the truth, the US is a red-neck hillbilly society with our public art being mainly sculptural like giant plastic arches of McDonalds Burgers permeating our cities and monumental sized buckets of chicken swirling in the skies from Kentucky Fried.

I mean think of it. What do we in the US get to usually see in our everyday lives besides big Doughnuts sitting atop of buildings, or giant Billboards showing us the latest photo close up of a Pizza?

Sep 10, 2013 1:09am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AnotherNobody wrote:
@WinslowWilson
Well said

Sep 10, 2013 5:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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