Cultural Cocktail Hour

In the news: “Fake” Van Gogh determined to be real

In an unusual twist, the very same museum that declared a Van Gogh painting to be fake in 1991 now declares it to be an authenticated work by the Dutch master.

The 1888 landscape painting “Sunset at Montmajour,” has now been hailed by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam as a “high point” of Van Gogh’s “artistic achievement.”

“A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum,” declared Axel Ruger, the museum’s director, 

The painting has been stashed in an attic for four decades, as two of its previous collectors were told that it was a fake.

Questions abound.

1. If it were not for the tenacity of the collector who absolutely insisted on taking it back to the Van Gogh museum (that had declared it a fake) for a second time, this painting may have lived in an attic in perpetuity.

What went wrong during the authentication process in 1991?

2. The painting originally came from the collection of Van Gogh’s brother, Theo Van Gogh. What better provenance than that of the painter’s closest relative (and artistic patron)?

3. After being discarded to the attic again in 1991, did the painting’s quality decline in those two decades?

Art sleuths, this case is far from over. 

I think that heads (or ears) may roll at the Van Gogh Museum after this mess is sorted.

At least the painting can now see the light of day!

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