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5.12.03

New Painting by Van Gogh?

Vincent Van Gogh (?), The Laborers, 1883Emmanuel de Roux writes in an article (Querelles d'experts autour d'un Van Gogh vendu aux enchères en Gironde, December 6) in Le Monde about a painting (The Laborers, shown at right) attributed to Vincent Van Gogh that will be sold at auction at the Hôtel des ventes des Graves de Portets, near Bordeaux, on December 13. The small canvas (30 x 45 cm, or 12 x 18 in) first reappeared in 1991, when it was purchased at the Montreuil flea market in Paris for less than 10,000 francs (1,500 euros) by an amateur collector who was working as a guard at the Petit Palais. Technical analysis at R & C Scientifica SRL, in Altavilla Vincentina, Italy, proved that the painting was created in the 19th century with paint and varnish identical to those used by Van Gogh, but experts who have examined the painting are divided as to its authenticity. The painting is expected to sell for between 3 and 5 million euros.

According to another article (Un Van Gogh déniché aux puces, November 29) from Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), the man who bought the painting at the flea market wants to sell it now for a good reason:

Convinced of his discovery's value, the owner, who now lives in Bordeaux, hopes to gain more than three million euros. This man in his 40s, who wants to remain completely anonymous, hopes to be able to stop working, thanks to this sale, and realize an old dream: devoting himself to painting.
Specialists at Sotheby's deferred judgment to two Van Gogh scholars at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who both concluded that the work was a forgery. However, an independent specialist named Benoît Landais claims to have identified the work in the catalogue of Van Gogh's paintings made by his brother, Theo, and in the painter's letters. M. Landais has been making waves in the art world for several years now, by claiming that some paintings accepted as Van Gogh's are not authentic. By carefully studying the painter's life, he claims to have traced a large number of Van Gogh's youthful works that were kept in storage in Breda until 1903, which he rediscovered in 1999. M. Landais believes that this painting is from the same period, 1883, painted in the area around Drenthe, in northern Holland, and then lost somewhere in transport to Breda. Some 150 of these paintings, attributed to Van Gogh, are on exhibit at the Breda Museum until February 1, 2004. (See Martin Bailey's article Lost Van Goghs Found? in The Art Newspaper, November 25). The vast majority of Van Gogh paintings that are "discovered" turn out to be fakes.

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