by Abbey Knupp
For the first time in 85 years, the world laid eyes on a full, previously undiscovered painting by the acclaimed French Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh. The painting, Sunset at Montmajour, was revealed at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam on Monday, September 9, 2013. The painting will join the Van Gogh at Work exhibition at the museum on September 24, where it will hang with many other famous paintings, such as Sunflowers and The Bedroom.
The painting surfaced in whirlpool of doubt and suspicion. Eighty years ago, the painting was deemed a fake and returned to the attic of a disappointed collector. When the painting recently switched hands, it was brought to the museum for further testing. After two years of intense studying, Louis van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp, senior researchers at the Van Gogh Museum, declared that the painting was real.
“The attribution to Van Gogh is based on extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh’s letters and the provenance,” stated the museum’s director, Axel Ruger, in the museum’s information release.
The team of researchers was able to trace the painting back to its origins. They believe the piece was painted in the summer of 1888 due to the parallels between the rediscovered masterpiece and other known paintings from that period. The scene depicted in Sunset at Montmajour is an area near Montmajour hill where the Montmajour Abbey, found in the upper left hand corner of the piece, can be seen from a distance.
Van Gogh also referenced the panting in two letters that he wrote to his brother, Theo, where he expresses his own distaste for the finished piece. It is thought that the painting was part of Theo Van Gogh’s collection until it was sold in 1901.
“Van Gogh writes that he had not succeeded, which can be explained, because the painting shows very strong and typical characteristics of Van Gogh, next to weaker and less convincing elements,” stated the researchers who validated the painting’s authenticity.
Though a price tag has not been affixed to the piece, it is suggested that the painting will be able to sell with the same whopping price tag attributed to other Van Gogh piece. Two pieces that have sold in recent years were the Portrait of Dr. Gachet, which earned $82.5 million, and Sunflowers, which sold for $39.9 million. Despite the lack of revere for Sunset at Montmajour, the painting will likely be paired with a similar price tag due to its novelty and connection to the famous painter.
The painting’s discovery is the greatest find that has happened in the history of the Vincent Van Gogh museum and stands as a reminder that the world is full of hidden treasures waiting to be unearthed. So the next time you are deep in the darkest recesses of your home, scrounging through the dust for a bit of heavy cleaning, make sure to keep your eyes open because you might just have the next great discovery right under your nose.