Old ‘Van Gogh’ not by Van Gogh. New Van Gogh discovered

From daily The Independent in Britain:

A day in the life of Van Gogh’s legacy: one work is debunked, another is discovered

By Kathy Marks in Sydney

Published: 04 August 2007

A Van Gogh vanished in Australia yesterday. In the United States, a Van Gogh appeared.

The first, a portrait attributed for the past 70 years to the Dutch master, was declared by experts to have been painted by someone else, probably one of his contemporaries. The second, a landscape, was discovered concealed beneath another Van Gogh painting.

Head of a Man, not by Vincent van Gogh

Head of a Man was brought to Australia in 1939 by the late newspaper publisher Keith Murdoch, the father of Rupert, as part of a travelling exhibition. It became stranded here after the outbreak of war, and was bought by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1949 for $4,000 (£1,700 at today’s exchange rates). It was subsequently valued, as a Van Gogh, at about $25m (£10.5m)

Doubts were raised about its attribution after it was exhibited in Edinburgh last year. Critics said the work, dated 1886, was in a different style from other Van Goghs of the same period, and was not mentioned in the artist’s letters.

The National Gallery sent the portrait – of a bearded, curly-haired man – to the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands for evaluation.

The gallery’s director, Gerard Vaughan, said yesterday that experts had concluded that it was painted during Van Gogh’s lifetime, but not by him.

Vincent van Gogh, The Ravine

A team at the same museum, meanwhile, had been examining a work called The Ravine, painted by Van Gogh in October 1889 and owned by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. While x-raying the canvas, they noticed that beneath it lay another painting, Wild Vegetation, a drawing of which is in the museum’s collection. The painting had been produced four months before The Ravine.

Vincent van Gogh, Wild vegetation, drawing

Art historians had always wondered if the drawing was based on a painting, for Van Gogh often sent drawings of his works to his brother Theo, an art dealer in Paris. He also relied on Theo to send him supplies, and would paint new compositions over old ones if the materials arrived late and he could not afford to buy his own.

Van Gogh, who only painted for 10 years before shooting himself dead, was confined in the St Remy clinic in southern France when he created Wild Vegetation. Armed with fresh materials from Theo, he was allowed to wander off into the hospital grounds and painted the surrounding landscape, including his famous series, Wheatfields.

Natalie Bos, a spokeswoman for the Van Gogh Museum, said: “One of our specialists looked at the x-ray and recognised it as resembling a drawing from the museum.” She called it an important discovery, and said the drawing, executed in brown reed pen, would be displayed in Amsterdam next week.

The painting of Wild Vegetation is typical of Van Gogh’s vibrant palette. It was discovered by curators from Amsterdam and Boston, who were working together.

In Melbourne, meanwhile, Mr Vaughan put on a brave face as he announced the loss of his Van Gogh. “The reattribution of paintings is part of the daily life in any major gallery with a large and complex collection,” he said. “It was purchased as a Van Gogh work, and had been accepted as a Van Gogh for more than a decade before the purchase [by the gallery].”

24 thoughts on “Old ‘Van Gogh’ not by Van Gogh. New Van Gogh discovered

  1. Brieven Vincent van Gogh gered door computer

    Het Van Gogh Museum gaat brieven van Vincent van Gogh en zijn familie digitaliseren. Het museum heeft een subsidie gekregen om de zeer kwetsbare verzameling in te scannen in de computer. Op die manier moeten de brieven worden gered.

    Naast de brieven van Van Gogh gaan via het programma Metamorfoze van de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en het Nationaal Archief negentien andere collecties en archieven in de computer bewaren.

    Twee miljoen
    Voor de digitalisering van de brieven en voor de andere projecten wordt door het programma Metamorfoze in totaal twee miljoen euro uitgetrokken. Metamorfoze wordt gefinancierd door het Nederlandse ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap. Twee keer per jaar bepaalt het programma welke projecten in aanmerking komen voor digitalisering. Daarvoor is jaarlijks vier miljoen euro beschikbaar. (novum/eb)

    05/12/07 14u21


  2. When speaking about Vincent van Gogh’s under paintings, what exactly happened to this great discovery of this Pretty face which was discovered under Vincent’s painting of Agostina Sagatory, the one painted in Arles, France in 1888?


  3. I’m sorry Kitty for not getting back with you to thank you for that link you had put up to show the new discovery I’d mentioned about them finding another woman underneath Agostina Segatori in het Café du Tambourin.

    The portrait of this other woman that is underneath the paint of the original work of art very well could be more like what she had looked like in Vincent’s eyes. I can only guess at this time in his life he was mistakenly in love again when he possibly went temporarily insane.

    Vincent at the time more than likely wasn’t thinking to clear and possibly thinking she wasn’t anything like the many others of his acquaintances and colleagues in the art world. She could not be anything thing like the complicated person she turned out to be when he partnered up with her to sell his works of art out of the Café du Tambourin.


  4. Re #6: “when he possibly went temporarily insane.” Van Gogh went temporarily insane after the conflict with Gauguin in Arles in December 1888. While the newly discovered, by x-ray, painting was older than that.


  5. Thanks for that little bit of information that we should all know by reading Vincent’s letters and the books written on him about this ear incident. I was just having a little fun with a pun I heard a few years ago. I guess it was a joke when a guy was in front of a judge for supposedly molesting his girl friend, and when making his plea to the judge he pleaded temporally insane your honor,… for I’m crazy about that stuff. Sorry, that statement I used and forgot to mention was a pun wasn’t supposed to be taken literally. lol 🙂


  6. I hope no one is going to get to upset with my answer Kitty for the so-called experts pretty lame excuse of saying the work of this unknown man, dated 1886, was in a different style from other Van Goghs of the same period, and was not mentioned in the letters. Well, it’s like this my friends, Vincent lived in Paris supposedly with his art dealing brother that wasn’t selling anything that he had painted or even tried to sell for him while telling him to quit copying other artist styles and techniques and develop his own. He didn’t even want them in his works he was keeping in his and his brothers collection that he was storing for later sales when Vincent was ready to be promoted as a gallery artist.

    There were no letter between these two brothers since they were right there together in Paris and could speak in person, that is if they were on good speaking terms at particular times. I do not understand how people who read their letters cannot understand what really went down and was happening in this supposed wonderful relationship between the art dealer and the brother artist. One thing is for sure that these letters have been manipulated, rewritten, translated to say what they wanted to be read and is still being handle in that way today.

    I’ll tell you and your readers the same as I would tell anyone else. These van Gogh experts from its foundation, I feel are as blind, if not more so, than the experts that Rembrandt was referring to in his drawing of “Satire Against Art Criticism”. You know the one, the one with donkey ears sticking up out of his hat as he is critiquing the artists works. It is really amazing that they have no idea of what Vincent was painting or doing at that time period when they have a lot of his later painting stretch through this period of while Vincent was in Paris.

    If people really wanted to read what others had to say about what Vincent was painting and trying to sell himself, say like at his paint supply dealers, store owners like cobbler shops and coffee houses including cafes and bars, they would have a little better of an understanding of what it is that I’m telling them. I read somewhere where Vincent said he even went to work for a photography shop and was involved in hand coloring photographs. I’m going to leave this at this for right now and see what kind of response this will get, if any.


  7. There is a tendency among owners of paintings to really want to believe that the paintings which they own are by someone famous like Van Gogh. That Gerard Vaughan of the Australian gallery now agrees that his painting is after all not a Van Gogh seems to indicate that the Van Gogh Museum research arguments have overcome emotional tendencies about wanting to own a real Van Gogh.

    “Doubts were raised about its attribution after it was exhibited in Edinburgh last year. Critics said the work, dated 1886, was in a different style from other Van Goghs of the same period, and was not mentioned in the artist’s letters.” So, that was the *initial* criticism in Edinburgh. Very probably, the research in Amsterdam added additional arguments, not mentioned in the Independent newspaper article (maybe because they were considered “too technical” for a daily paper, about chemical analysis of paint or something).

    As far as I know, the Rembrandt etching is about art critics’ like or dislike of works of art. Not about attributing works of unknown artists to artist A or artist B. Art history is not the same as art criticism though it may overlap sometimes.


  8. Dear Administrator, I’m very thankful for you good explanation, and for you putting up that Rembrandt drawing. It is getting harder and harder for anyone to find on the world wide web. Most do feel art history is not the same as art criticism, though it is sometime thought to overlap. In the case of this drawing, I believe it did over lap a bit and was a definite statement made by Rembrandt Against art expertise and their own determination of what is actually seen by them, when looking at an artists work of art. You might say not seeing the complete picture.

    I’ll be getting back soon with another comment on this comment of your for more of your views on what is said by myself.


  9. I can understand how some curators and owners of certain painting will go with the flow to keep on good standing with a rather strong and powerful organization such as the Vincent van Gogh Foundation. I myself do not have to be that concerned with this problem. The ones at the V.v.G. Foundation wouldn’t agree with one word coming from my mouth and with good reasoning’s of their own. In saying this, the experts of that foundation has not relinquish or replied with any conversation of their own as to any kind of rebuttals for any of what I have been saying on the world wide web internet for a good 14 years now as vanrijngo. I can only surmise their silence is due to their knowing themselves what I have been saying is pretty much the truth. Their silence is their only virtue.

    You stating that very probably, the research in Amsterdam added additional arguments and is not mentioned in the Independent newspaper article is more than likely the case. You say maybe because they were considered “too technical” for a daily paper, about chemical analysis of paint or something like that. Well, My guess would be any kind of an explanation from the V.v.G. Foundation with them putting their own expertise on the line would be greatly appreciated from Vincent van Gogh enthusiast from all over this world. I’m talking about ones who have in the past believed this to be a Vincent van Gogh painting way before all these great conflicting and disagreeable ideas from the studies of these so-called experts, ones who came into play let us say after Vincent’s works of art became so much more valuable. We can’t be having the art public believing Vincent could paint in any o’l way that he seen fit before he developed his later style to conform with what his brother was so insistent on him doing while still using the same techniques in his works of art that he had used his complete artistic career right from the beginning.


  10. In Rembrandt’s time, art history as an academic discipline did not exist. One of the differences with art criticism: in art history, someone who knows nothing about Van Gogh’s painting style, as a good art critic is supposed to know, may be a competent chemist; and may find out that the paint in a supposed Van Gogh painting differs much chemically from all other paintings, made certainly by Van Gogh. Even though that researcher may not know anything about Van Gogh’s style, this chemical research result may point very strongly in the direction of the painting not really having been made by Van Gogh.


  11. Since You are commenting as the site administrator, I take it that you want to remain anonymous on your comments by not using your given name. I myself do not really care what people think about what I say and when they tell me what they believe can be proven by past history. I personally just think about past history myself and different happening I’ve read about and a few I have discovered myself and just go from there. I do really appreciate your talking with me and letting me know what you think to be the absolute truth, for it does really help me understand where most educated people have gotten most their information from.

    To be completely honest with you, I do believe that at Rembrandt’s bankruptcy sale in 1657-8 that numerous art book of the previous old masters before Rembrandt, say like Durer and other prominent artists were in print and in his collection bought by him at these art auctions he attended himself. I believe that one of Rembrandt’s early art gallery owners and considered partner of his did happen to have to do some jail time for Making copy’s of the masters like Durer’s, etchings and other works of art from different masters. It does happen to make one wonder if Rembrandt himself didn’t happen to escape having to go to jail himself.

    I believe back then in Rembrandt’s time, art history as an academic discipline did in fact exist. Artists did at the time grind their own paints and was taught as the apprentices that they were how to grind the paints as one of their own educated school jobs as the Master artist’s pupils. As far as that goes, Vincent didn’t do any paint grinding himself but used many different paint suppliers who did happen to mix and grind their own paints. I’m talking one hell of a lot of art supplies by other art and paint dealer than what was supplied by his art dealing brother.

    It is written about in his many letters to his brother Theo almost of Vincent steadily begging him for money for supplies and canvases to paint on, since he was out of money and had to high of unpaid bills with his suppliers and them not willing to trade for his works of art for his supplies. Now you tell me how in the world they would ever be able to keep all these different paints from these different suppliers and all the different artist materials he painted on straight, especially since they can’t even get the dating of Vincent’s paintings correct.


  12. Re #14: quote: “what you think to be the absolute truth”.

    If I would really believe I knew the absolute truth about those Van Gogh paintings etc., then I would would not use words like “may”; “As far as I know”; and “probably.” However, I do 🙂

    Sorry for this short reply, as this blog is not just about Van Gogh. It is about many subjects, as you can see on the main page of this blog at http://dearkitty.blogsome.com/ . Very urgent at the moment: bloody wars in Afghanistan and Libya. Xenophobic extreme Right mass murder in Norway. Etc.


  13. Re #15: quote: “If I would really believe I knew the absolute truth about those Van Gogh paintings etc., then I would not use words like “may”; “As far as I know”; and “probably.” However, I do :)”

    Yes, I understand these words you mentioned is used quite commonly by experts in their fields to cover what comes from their supposed knowledge on what ever their subject are about. This is always their main defense when saying something in the contrary that is proven not right. This will be my last comment on your article above about Vincent, since you are pretty much satisfied with and using words like “may”; “As far as I know”; and “probably.” and don’t really care to know what the truths are or could “possibly” be about.

    As far as the rest of your comment, I’d only say all this “May” be happening for the preparations of the world’s prophesies by all the foreseers of not so great of happening that they have predicted for us and the world as warnings. The one prediction I feel “may” be of the greatest importance at this particular time is the ending of the Mayan calendar.



  14. Re #16: about the supposed Mayan doomsday prophecy:

    “Maya prophecy (2012)

    Tzuhtz-(a)h-oom u(y)-uxlahuun pik (ta) Chan Ahaw, ux(-te’) Uniiw. Uht-oom ? Y-em(al) (?) Bolon Yookte’ K’uh ta (?). (“The thirteenth pik will be finished (on) Four Ahaw, the third of K’ank’in. ? will occur. (?) the Nine Foot Tree God(s) to (?).”)*

    The world will not end on 12-21-2012, at least not according to the Maya, who knew about as much about our planet’s future demise as Gordon-Michael Scallion, St. Malachy, Edgar Cayce, Zecharia Sitchin, or Nostradamus, namely, nothing. The Maya had zero, zilch, nada, mix bá’al to say about the hoax planet Nibiru or the end of the world.”

    Read the rest at http://www.skepdic.com/maya.html

    The Teapot Atheist: The Mayan calendar does not end in 2012, Jim: here.

    I don’t believe fundamentalist Christian, New Age, or other doomsday prophecies.

    Recently, as this blog reported, there was US fundamentalist Christian millionaire Camping, whose “rapture” prophecies drove some credulous teenager into suicide. Sickening.

    The final truth about which paintings are by Van Gogh and which ones are not can only be established by long patient research in laboratories. I don’t own a laboratory.


  15. More than likely the world won’t end then, but it sure got you thinking.lol I myself just take things as they flow. You without your laboratory and the Vincent van Gogh foundation without the experts no better than the ones in charge pretty much says it all for this MFA world of ours.

    I’d say, and not use any of those words you spoke of earlier, the eight or nine years of Vincent working at the Goupel Cie Art Galleries all over Europe, before he got sacked, he had learned a lot. These Galleries, the ones that his uncle Cent was in partner with was pretty much for the elite. Vincent was taught the ropes, how all the artists were treated and what they the MFA experts and his colleagues were doing and how they say it had to be done. You might say they are ran about the same today, only a little more crookeder than most would want to believe and realize.

    Cheers again!
    you just keep on bringing me back.


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