9 September 2013
The Van Gogh Museum has discovered a new painting by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890): Sunset at Montmajour. Director Axel Rüger: “A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum. It is already a rarity that a new painting can be added to Van Gogh's oeuvre.
But what makes this even more exceptional is that this is a transition work in his oeuvre; moreover moreover, a large painting from a period that is considered by many to be the culmination of his artistic achievement, his period in Arles in the south of France. During this time he also painted world-famous works, such as Sunflowers, The Yellow House and The Bedroom. The attribution to Van Gogh is based on extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh's letters and the provenance.” [More at http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/about-the-museum/news/new-discovery-sunset-at-montmajour]
Its authenticity was questioned several times before it was confirmed as a genuine van Gogh work in 2013. It is the first full-sized painting by Van Gogh to be newly confirmed since 1928.... In the 1990s, the painting was shown to staff at the Van Gogh Museum, but it was dismissed as not the work of van Gogh because it was not signed.
With the development of improved investigative techniques, however, in 2011 a two-year investigation was launched by the Van Gogh Museum to examine the possible authenticity of the painting. The painting was subjected to a detailed investigation of style and materials. It was discovered to have been painted in the same range of paints that appears in works by van Gogh at that period, which led to further research. Among the evidence that confirmed the painting's authenticity was a letter written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo on 5 July 1888, describing a landscape that he had painted the previous day:
"Yesterday, at sunset, I was on a stony heath where very small, twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill, and wheatfields in the valley. It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful, the whole scene had a charming nobility. You wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see knights and ladies suddenly appear, returning from hunting with hawks, or to hear the voice of an old Provençal troubadour. The fields seemed purple, the distances blue. And I brought back a study of it too, but it was well below what I’d wished to do."