Van Gogh Museum Unveils Long-Lost Painting by the Dutch Artist

'Sunset at Montmajour' is considered a major discovery and an important transition piece.


Alex Ruger, director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, presents an 1888 painting by Vincent van Gogh on Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, in Amsterdam, entitled 'Sunset at Montmajour.'

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The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam unveiled a long-lost painting Monday by Vincent van Gogh called "Sunset at Montmajour." Museum's director Axel Rüger hailed the recovery of the work, saying, "A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history Van Gogh Museum."

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"Sunset at Montmajour" marks the first discovery of a full-sized van Gogh painting since 1928. At 93 by 73 centimeters, the canvas is roughly the same size as his work "Sunflowers." It is considered a major piece in the artist's transition period that also produced "Sunflowers," "The Yellow House" and "The Bedroom." The piece depicts a countryside scene near Arles, France, where van Gogh moved in 1888. Historians have found at least two letters written by the artist in the summer of that year referring to the painting.


Van Gogh's brother Theo owned the painting in 1890 (the year the artist died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound) until selling it in 1901. It made its way from a Paris art dealer to a Norwegian collector in the early 1900s, and, according to the New York Times, belonged to a private family collection for the past several years. The museum did not detail how it attained "Sunset at Montmajour" from its most recent owners, citing privacy concerns.

"Sunset at Montmajour" has been declared a fake multiple times, as recently as 1991. The museum says new research methods allowed it to confirm its authenticity.

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In the letters discussing the painting, van Gogh expressed disappointment with "Sunset at Montmajour." However, according to the museum press release, he felt similar dissatisfaction with his some of other great works, including "Starry Night." Starting Sept. 24, the painting will be on view in the Van Gogh Museum as part of its current show "Van Gogh at Work" until Jan. 12.

"We see Van Gogh visibly working, struggling almost, and this adds to the charm of this work," museum researchers said of the painting.

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