New Vincent Van Gogh painting unveiled
‘New painting, old master’, now isn’t that a thing? Vincent Van Gogh may not have been an old master in the traditional sense of the title – it tends to be used to describe historical giants working before the nineteenth century – we’re in the twenty first century and can take a small amount of liberty for prose’s sake.
A new work by the Dutch post-impressionist painter has finally been declared as such, making it the first full-size canvas by the artist to be discovered since 1928. Sunset at Montmajour, executed in 1888, has been out of sight for many, many years, locked up in a Norwegian attic, before attempts at identifying it mistakenly denied it proper attribution.
Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum, where the painting is now on show, admitted that the establishment had previously rejected the work in the early nineties, doubting its legitimacy, a decision informed, in part, by the fact it does not have Van Gogh’s signature on it.
However, beyond this, there was still a lingering unease and curiosity about the painting. The work, which is now considered to be indicative of the artist’s transitional style, was evocative of something special… something Van Gogh you could argue.
“We carried out art historical research into the style, the depiction, use of materials and context, and everything we found indicated that this is a work by Van Gogh,” Louis van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp, two senior researchers of the Van Gogh Museum, stated in an official press release.
“Stylistically and technically speaking, there are a plenty of parallels with other paintings by Van Gogh from the summer of 1888. By means of research into literature and records, we were also capable of tracing the earliest history of the provenance of the painting. It belonged to Theo van Gogh’s collection in 1890 and was sold in 1901.”
It is a special painting. During the period of its completion, Van Gogh aspired to create a poetic energy, and it is this we can tellingly recognise in the many characteristic brushstrokes that went into producing this mesmeric work of art.
While he might have erroneously been dissatisfied with the end result, beyond this, he turned his attention to a much fuller aesthetic known as impasto, where the paint tends to be applied to the surface of a canvas in a much thicker manner.
This gives the work a fuller appearance, almost sculptural, as if the landscape or subject is aspiring to break free of the canvas. Though it is decidedly impressionistic, one could argue that it evokes the sentiments of hyperrealism, as if it is a window into a real world. That can be somewhat heavenly, as Van Gogh once said:
“If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.”
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