Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum has announced the discovery of a new painting by Vincent van Gogh — the first full-size example since 1928. Sunset at Montmajour, a 1888 landscape, was painted during the time van Gogh spent in the south of France, which "many see as the high point of his artistic achievement," according to museum director Axel Rüger. Van Gogh painted works such as Bedroom in Arles and his Sunflowers series at around the same time.
"A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum."
Sunset at Montmajour was confirmed to be genuine after a long period of research. "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," said Rüger. But the most compelling evidence was found in letters van Gogh sent to his brother, Theo, in which he referred to painting the landscape on July 4, 1888. The artist did not consider it one of his greater works, saying it was "well below what I'd wished to do."
Other experts considered the painting a fake for decades, and the museum initially declined to authenticate it in 1991; it was not possible to make the judgement without the new trove of Van Gogh's letters. Still, Rüger calls it a "great painting," saying that "a discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum." It will be displayed at the museum as part of an exhibition, Van Gogh at work, from September 24th.