- X-Ray UV and IR
- X-Ray UV and IR
There are several reasons why this painting can be a genuine Van Gogh. The first and most obvious indicator is that it is signed 'Vincent,' which also appears to be quite similar to those already authenticated; The location of the signature fits, as does the paint color. However, Vincent did sign his paintings in various locations and used black paint as well as red, blue, and other colors.
The signature analysis will need to be carried out by a professional.
If the signature proves to be fraudulent, or at least not by Vincent's hand, there are still ample more tests to determine authentication; Van Gogh's 1882 painting View of the Sea at Scheveningen is authentic, although it had a fake signature.
The painting was discovered in a dilapidated inn in Belgium.
We know that Vincent lived in Belgium on a few occasions and frequented inns. Perhaps the painting was a trade, as he often did for food, lodging, and Absinthe.
Antwerp, Belgium, where Vincent relocated to in November 1884, is only 25 miles from Vincent's place of birth and 60 miles from Neunen.
In January 1890, Vincent's paintings were exhibited at the Salon of Les Vingt in Brussels and again in February 1891.
Belgium was the first country receptive to Van Gogh's work in the late 1800s, and slowly other countries followed suit, so it stands to reason why his earlier works found homes in Belgium.
One must also mention that not all of Vincent's paintings were publicly displayed because many were gracing the walls of private collectors; much like the painting Scène de rue à Montmartre (Street Scene in Montmartre), which had been in a private collection for over a century only to resurface and receive authentication more recently.
It is highly suggestible that provenance is associated with Vincent's student and good friend Eindhoven tanner, Anton Kerssemakers. I received an email in early 2021 informing me that the painting is part of a series owned by the Keunen family. The Keunen's are indirect descendants through marriage to Anton and own four Van Gogh/Kerssemakers collaborations found in Anton's Eindhoven house after he passed away.
The four paintings have been analyzed extensively over the years, and scientific research has determined the work of Vincent Van Gogh.
There is no question that the four paintings are by the same artist/s who created Farmhouse with Barn and Well.
Having been in contact with the agent for the Keunen family, I can say with certainty that the painting in question has Van Gogh's brushwork. I have promised not to share their findings but, this painting, or at least parts of it, is by Vincent van Gogh.
One other theory of how the painting ended up in Belgium may be attributed to the many Belgium refugees temporarily housed in Eindhoven during WWI, which of course, ties to both Vincent and Anton Kerssemakers.
Given that this painting is extremely fragile, it was decided to further protect it from the elements while research is carried out. Today it is being held in a secure climate controlled storage deposit.
The owner of the painting in question has long been a Vincent Van Gogh admirer, and as such, feels deep regret that the artwork is in such dire need of restoration.
Many of Vincent's paintings had suffered damage and neglect throughout the years; those now authenticated have been restored.
Jo Van Gogh-Bonger vehemently opposed anyone touching Vincent's paintings, even at the suggestion of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
However, Vincent Willem van Gogh took a different approach after his mother passed away, and many of Vincent's paintings were very carefully treated.
Some of the works in private collections and those unauthenticated such as this one, remain damaged.
Farmhouse with Barn and Well resembles Vincent's brushstrokes, subject, and execution timeline. It does not represent an actual copy of another Van Gogh painting; it also does not have accurate pentimenti (lines) used as guidelines. The pentimenti beneath the layers of paint are very different from the finished piece.
Additionally, most forgeries are based on other paintings, as with the case of the notorious Otto Wacker forgeries of Van Gogh's works. Cypresses, Peasant with Fork, Sower (after Millet), Vase with Flowers, Wheatfield, The Zouave, Self-portrait with bandaged ear and pipe, Boats at Les-Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Self-portrait with easel, and more were all forged to look like other legitimate Van Gogh paintings.
French Post-Impressionist artist Émile Schuffenecker, a good friend of Gauguin and collector of Van Gogh's work, was suspected of imitating Vincent's paintings but never charged with forgery.
It's hard to determine for sure because Vincent did rework some of his paintings years later.
The green underpaint that seeps through was most likely applied during execution. The question is, which pigment of green is it.
Vincent was introduced to emerald green by his favorite paint supplier, Petrus Joannes Tyck, when he moved to Antwerp in late 1885. He also began using a different type of canvas.
Paint pigment analysis will determine if the underlying green paint came before his move to Antwerp or after.
When Vincent moved to Paris, his choice of canvas changed again as his primary suppliers became Tasset et L'Hote and Pere Tanguy: He started using ready-made canvases in standard format, some stamped by the manufacturer or retailer.
Some of the stretcher bars were also stamped, as is the case with Portrait of Agostina Segatori.
Canvases also varied with regards to a particular weave pattern as well as warp and weft count. Then there are the rolls of primed canvas Vincent used during his Dutch period and again between 1888 - 1890. In this instance, Vincent cut several pieces from the same 5 or 10 m x 2.10 m roll, which he then stretched onto strainer bars made by a carpenter in Nuenen. Hence the non-standard size of some of Vincent's paintings.
Researchers can also pinpoint a timeline from the particular paints Vincent used; for example, Tanguy's paints were of poorer quality than all others, so paints used from this supplier can determine an approximate time frame.
Having researched the painting for almost two years, it appears to be linked with Van Gogh's friend and pupil Anton Kerssemakers. This would date the painting to between 1882-1885.
There is so much more that researchers can employ to determine authenticity and time frame. The measures above, combined with the information available from his correspondence to Theo, have proven invaluable to group and add or omit works to his oeuvre.
Analytical methods used to identify colorants in art include:
Chromatographic techniques, Mass spectrometry, Multispectral imaging, Optical microscopy (PLM), Scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive (or WDS) analysis, X-ray fluorescence analysis, Infrared/Raman spectroscopy, X-ray powder diffraction, and more.
In some of his Plein air works, Vincent used a tree resin additive called copaiva balsam because it slows down the drying process of oil painting and allows for a deeper saturation of color.
I have personally felt that this painting dates to 1884 / 1885, during which time Vincent did not always sign his works. Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen - Unsigned. Avenue of Poplars in Autumn - Vase with Honesty - Still Life with Bottle and Earthenware - Cottages - All unsigned. Many of Vincent's head studies - also unsigned. In fact, so many of Vincent's early paintings were not signed.
This painting does sport a signature in red lower left, but I am unsure as to whether it is of the artist's hand. This of course doesn't necessarily mean the painting itself isn't, as with View of the Sea at Scheveningen which had a fake signature.
It could have also been signed by Anton Kerssemakers, as Vincent had signed his name on a joint painting.
Upon personally examining the signature, and being quite knowledgeable of the various ways Vincent signed his name, I suspect it is not by Vincent himself. However, that is not to say he didn't work on the painting, and I am 100% convinced he had! More is covered on Anton Kerssemakers and Van Gogh.
The owner sent pictures to the Van Gogh Museum in 2020. The Van Gogh Museum stated that based on "stylistic features," the painting cannot be attributed to Vincent Van Gogh. This is the same answer they gave to the Keunen family, who own four Van Gogh/Kerssemakers paintings.
The Keunen family are indirect descendants through the marriage of Vincent's friend and student, Anton Kerssemakers Anton's daughter, Catharina Joanna Josephina Kerssemakers, married Jules Marie Henri Keunen.
The Van Gogh Museum is the be-all and end-all regarding authenticity and has been wrong before and on more than one occasion.
This painting is almost certainly a joint work by Van Gogh and Kerssemakers. The fact that the Van Gogh Museum refuses to entertain this notion as a worthy investigation is baffling and disturbing at the same time.
In Vincent's own words, when he is dead and gone, we will know his work regardless of a signature. This, according to an interview Anton gave the Amsterdam magazine 'De Groene' when talking about the unsigned painting Vincent gave his friend before leaving for Antwerp. This painting was Autumn Landscape with Four Trees, F44/JH962.
The VGM has not conducted any research on this painting.
The painting owner will be reaching out to the VGM to reassess their decision for a more detailed examination.
If the painting in question is authenticated as a Van Gogh, then the owner hopes to gather funds for the major restoration it needs.
Restoration for a painting of this size and in this condition can cost anywhere between $10,000 - $25,000.
And after that?
That's a long way off, but one would love to see the painting put on display for others to enjoy.
What experience does anybody have who claims to be an expert?
One would assume an expert in a particular field is knowledgeable about every aspect of the topic, but there is no Ph.D. in VanGoghology.
I do not consider myself an expert in conservation or Impressionism. Still, I do believe in my competence due to the vast amount of research I have undertaken regarding Van Gogh's style, technical proficiency, palette, oeuvre, and so forth.
Art historian Bernadette Murphy is a prime example of how research into a specific subject can reveal fact over assumption.
After seven years of research, Ms. Murphy concluded that Vincent van Gogh gave his severed ear to the brothel cleaner and local cafe worker Gabrielle Berlatier, not a prostitute as indicated initially.
Bernadette Murphy also revealed the identity of The peasant: portrait of Patience Escalier, August 1888. She identified him as Casimir 'Patience' Escalier, a patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence with whom Vincent shared a ward.
Patience Escalier died while Vincent was there and is recognized symbolically as an empty chair in the painting Ward of the Hospital in Arles.
American art collector Stuart Pivar, who founded the New York Academy of Art with Andy Warhol, recently tried suing the VGM for $300 Million after receiving a similar letter denying authentication.
Pivar's lawsuit, filed last year, claims that "At no time did the Defendant (the VGM) seek to view the actual Painting or engage the Plaintiff in obtaining scientific or forensic tests of the Painting's paint surface, canvas or other physical elements."
Continuing with, "The defendant rejected the authenticity of the Painting after nothing more than a cursory review of electronic photographs emailed."
The lawsuit goes on to say that the VGM has a duty to use its best efforts and employ all due diligence when it agreed to examine and authenticate the painting and that its actions constitute negligence as a matter of law.
Pivar believes the painting titled 'Auvers' is authentic and would have a fair market value of $300,000,000.
After filing a summons for the museum to answer Pivar's complaint, including Negligence and Breach of Contract, senior researchers responded with a comprehensive 15-page report outlining their findings.
In August of 2021, Pivar notified the VGM that his counsel was drafting a Complaint with the New York State US Supreme Court against them and the Government of The Netherlands, demanding one billion dollars in damages for declaring the painting fake.
On March 25, 2022, after the VGM filed for dismissal against Pivar's claims, Judge Louis L Stanton granted the museum's motion to dismiss without prejudice on the grounds of forum non-conveniens.
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