The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam unveiled Monday a newly discovered painting reportedly created by the Dutch artist in 1888 at the height of his career. It previously was considered a fake and had been consigned to an attic.
"For the first time in the history of the museum, that is in the past 40 years, a substantial capital new work of van Gogh has been discovered that was completely unknown in the literature," Axel Rüger, the Van Gogh Museum’s director, told the New York Times.
"We always think we’ve seen everything and we know everything, and now we’re able to add a significant new work to his oeuvre. It is a work from the most important period of his life, when he created his substantial masterpieces, like 'The Sunflowers,' 'The Yellow House' and 'The Bedroom.'"
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The piece, "Sunset in Montmajour," depicts a hilly landscape in Arles, France at dusk.
"There are, in hindsight, many pointers in his letters and entries in catalogues of the 1900s that have been linked to other paintings or misidentified," Fred Leeman, a former chief curator of the Van Gogh Museum, told the Times. "Here, we see a painting that fits those descriptions exactly. And what also contributes to the proof is the advances in research that have been done with the pigments, and the new evidence is completely in harmony with what we expect from this painting."
The museum traced the piece back to its origination. Marije Vellekoop, head of collections, believes it was in a family collection managed by van Gogh's widow Johanna van Gogh-Bonger until 1901, when she sold it to an art dealer in Paris.
In 1908, the dealer reportedly sold it to a Norwegian collector who dubbed it a fake and put it in his attic. He later forgot about it and when he sold his home, it became the property of the new owners.
The current owners brought the painting to the Van Gogh Museum two years ago to be authenticated and historians have been examining it ever since.
"Sunset at Montmajour" will be on display starting Sept. 24 as part of the museum's "Van Gogh at Work" exhibit, which also features other new discoveries from the artist.
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