ArtsBeat reports: It was a van Gogh, then it wasn’t a van Gogh and now it’s a van Gogh again, maybe this time for good.
New research has shown that a still life painting of a vase brimming with flowers, bought in 1974 by the Kröller-Müller Museum in the central Netherlands, was executed directly over a painting of two wrestlers that matches a description of an image that a young van Gogh once mentioned in a letter to his brother, Theo, as a work in progress.
The Kröller-Müller Museum bought the still life at a time when it was attributed to van Gogh, but in 2003, after years of questions from scholars, the museum downgraded the painting, calling it a work of an anonymous artist. But new X-rays recently provided a great deal of detail about the brush strokes and design of the original image beneath the still life, which had been seen indistinctly in an earlier X-ray, The Associated Press reported.
Painting half-clothed wrestlers was an exercise as part of a course at an art academy in Antwerp where van Gogh studied in early 1886, the Kröller-Müller Museum said in a statement, and the still life’s canvas was of a size then used by the academy.
In the letter to his brother, van Gogh describes painting “a large thing with two nude torsos – two wrestlers” and reports being delighted with the result. It is now believed that he later took the canvas with him to Paris and painted the still life over it without scraping away the original painting or even priming over it.
“From today, for the first time in its history, the flower piece will be given a prominent position among other works by Vincent van Gogh in the museum’s collection,” the museum said.