News

Dutch Museum Uncovers Van Gogh, Chinese Collector Buys Van Gogh’s House

by Hrag Vartanian on March 28, 2012

The "new" work by Van Gogh (image courtesy Kröller-Müller Museum), right, photo of Vincent Van Gogh (via Wikipedia)

It’s the dream of any museum to discover that a once dismissed painting in their collection is actually the work of a Master. That scenario recently played out for the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, Netherlands when a team of researchers from used x-ray techniques to determine that Vincent Van Gogh actually painted “Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses,” which the museum acquired in 1974.

Currently listed as a "not known" work in the official Van Gogh Letters website, the work in question is known to be underneath the "Still Life" in Otterlo. On the left is an x-ray image of the painting underneath the still life. (x-ray image courtesy the museum, and screencapture via vangoghletters.org)

Teio Meedendorp, researcher at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, told CNN that the wrestling scene was painted over in less than a year:

“The top layer was applied not long afterwards … We can tell this because he used a lot of zinc white in the wrestlers picture, and it dries very, very slowly.

“The x-rays show that it had not hardened completely when the still life was added, causing some cracks in the paint of the flower picture, which suggests it was painted less than half a year later.”

For those passionate about Van Gogh and how the latest work was “discovered,” the museum has made the prepublication of the paper “Rehabilitation of a flower still life in the Kröller-Müller Museum and a lost Antwerp painting by Van Gogh” available in its museum shop. The article will appear in Van Gogh: New Findings (Van Gogh Studies deel 4) which comes out in June 2012.

“Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses” has been on display since last week in the museum alongside another work by Van Gogh, “Roses and Peonies and Flowers in a Blue Vase” (1887).

Inspired by Van Gogh

A Google streetview of the Van Gogh residence in London (via Google maps) and, right, a sketch by Van Gogh of the building as it appeared in the 1870s. (via Guardian)

In other Vincent-related new, Chinese art collector Robbie Cao decided that a Van Gogh painting was out of his price range so he did the next best thing and bought a house in the Brixton neighborhood of London for €676,000 where the famous Dutch painter lived in 1873 and 1874.

Van Gogh mentioned his home in Brixton in a letter to his brother dated January 1874 (via vangoghletters.org)

When Radio Netherlands Worldwide asked Cao about the run-down Victorian house that he has never even seen, he said he purchased it because to work in that house “must be the most inspiring thing ever.” The former owner, who would only identify himself as Mark, said that he grew up in Van Gogh’s bedroom and “I often drew pictures in it, but I didn’t get any of his talent.”

The Dutch news story has the reason why Van Gogh eventually moved from the very humble abode:

His life here was far from carefree. Before signing the contract, he had fallen passionately in love with the landlord’s 19-year-old daughter. His feelings were unreciprocated. Eugénie Loyer felt nothing for the over-emotional Dutchman. She found his behaviour embarrassing and, a year later, Van Gogh moved to a different address in South London.

The most authentic part of the purchase is probably the vintage Victorian outdoor toilet, which was probably used by the artist himself. If that outhouse shows up in a museum show one day I wouldn’t be surprise. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first toilet to be exhibited in a gallery.

Jonathan Jones of The Guardian has a video tour of the home, and he provides more context to the artist’s time in London.

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  • RogerPiaskowski

    From the first look at the photograph I recognized in him the painting grateful vase of flowers painted by Van Gogh, published years ago in book “Van Gogh” by the Russian art historian E. Murina in 1978. Murina indicates that the painting titled “Vase with Flowers” is dated autum 1886 and is in private collection in Eindhoven the Netherlands. It’s very interesting whether it is recognized that Van Gogh was below the wrestlers fight scene, or talking about the second picture of the same recital of flowers in vase. Or maybe the information gathered by Russian researcher was wrong and contary to the findings in the museum in Otterlo.Can you count on to clarify and comment from the authorities of the Kroller-Muller Museum in Otterlo?

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