Why is the Van Gogh Museum failing to authenticate Vincent’s work?

And why aren't they being held accountable?

Better yet, why is the Van Gogh Museum refusing to examine these works, which could well be legitimate masterpieces by their namesake, therefore denying the expansion of his oeuvre?

Under Swiss Civil law, there are three main duties an authenticator should abide by: the duty to diligently perform the authentication (article 398(2) Swiss CO), the duty to act in the best interest of the client (article 398(2) Swiss CO) and the duty to give information on the authentication procedure (article 400 Swiss CO).

In the Netherlands, it appears this is not the case.

I am not the first one to dispute their questionable practices, and there is no doubt, I won’t be the last.

Van Gogh Museum oeuvre catalog

For decades, Scientists and experts across the globe have deemed paintings attributed to Van Gogh as authentic, yet the museum of its namesake, sadly, owns the monopoly on authentication. They rely solely on images when forming their opinions rather than listening to the man who created these magnificent works of art!

Their standard ‘copy and paste’ justification is quote: “Based on stylistic features, your work, cannot be attributed to Vincent van Gogh” AND YET in the words of Vincent van Gogh: “I follow no system of brushwork at all, I hit the canvas with irregular strokes, which I leave as they are, impastos, uncovered spots of canvas—corners here and there left inevitably unfinished— reworkings, roughnesses; well, I’m inclined to think that the result is sufficiently worrying and annoying not to please people with preconceived ideas about technique.” To Emile Bernard, 1888.

Having said that, museum “experts” Ella Hendriks and Louis van Tilborg composed a study of Van Gogh’s Antwerp and Paris paintings in 2011 and, as I fervently drooled over the analysis and presentation of their namesake, Hendriks notes how Vincent began quickly developing a series of technological experiments in an effort to create a uniquely personal and contemporary style. She goes on to say: “What is striking is that Van Gogh often jumped from one technical experiment to its opposite in order to test painterly extremes. Very thin to loaded paint application, whitish primings to those with a pronounced mid-tone hue, tonal to high-key color schemes, and relatively smooth supports to textured twill ones.” – and to that I say…

It appears the museum research department is repeatedly contradicting itself!


Vincent experimented with different types of canvas, from fine twill to coarse jute. He experimented with distinctive textures and various forms of ground: pinkish-grey, pinkish-brown, lime green, lead white, zinc white, black as a blocking agent, or underdrawing—different mixes of paint and pigment combinations, thickly layered impasto corresponding to the shorter, uni-directional brush strokes of the Impressionist movement to the Neo-Impressionist pointillist technique. In other words, he was all over the place!

As I continued to flick through pages and pages of the VG museum’s expert assessment and scientific analysis of Vincent’s authenticated paintings, I found myself nodding my head in agreement at how my painting too has this and that, and, oh, this and that, and yep! But then, silly me, I remembered “Based on stylistic features, your work, cannot be attributed to Vincent van Gogh“.

Why does Marije Vellekoop, who has worked at the VGM since 1995, have 23 books about Van Gogh on Goodreads?

Anyway, in the conclusive paragraph of developing technique and style, Hendriks closes by quoting Van Gogh: ‘As regards technique – I’m still searching for many things and with me it’s the case that, although I find some of them, there remain infinitely many that I lack. But – all the same, I know why I work as I work – and base my search on solid ground’ Vincent had written this to his friend Anthon van Rappard in August 1885, a few months before his move to Antwerp.

German art historian André Chahil wrote a brilliant article for his website in 2018 titled ‘INSIGHTS! A REAL VAN GOGH?’ in which he interviewed Markus Roubrocks, owner of Still Life with Peonies, another painting (also from Belgium) regarded as imitation by the Van Gogh Museum’s “experts”. The painting was passed down to him by his father and was to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in Zurich. That was, however, until the VGM declared the painting a forgery. As a result, scientific analysis ensued by one of Europe’s leading chemists, Dr. Erhard Jägers, who specializes in the analysis of works of art.

In Mr. Chahil´s Interview, when asked what the main results were from the investigations into his painting, Mr. Roubrocks responded:

There are five scientific opinions from 1980 to the present day that examined and confirmed all of Van Gogh’s typical factors – and two scientific statements against the statements of the VGM. Scientifically, my painting is more than approved. The Jägers Laboratory has recently shown that the primer of my painting has the same characteristics as Tasset et Lhôte. It can even be derived from the book of the Van Gogh Museum „Van Gogh’s Studio Practice“ an assignment in the period 1889-1890. The primer in my painting has the same composition as that of a roll of canvas supplied by Tasset et Lhôte.--- The established forgery theory is thus refuted as a whole, due to the fact that Van Gogh was not forged in the period 1889-1890 and certainly not on canvases from this address.

Mr. Roubrocks also mentions that his painting is part of the Bonger list – 

The Bonger List is an inventory of 364 paintings that were still owned by the Van Gogh family after Vincent died. Theo had worked on organizing a retrospective of Vincent’s work for the immediate months following his brother’s demise, with talk of an ‘exhibition catalog’, although in October, Theo’s health deteriorated, and he was admitted to the Willem Arntz Psychiatric Hospital. Andries Bonger, who was a friend of Theo’s and brother of Jo, started his list while Theo was hospitalized; sadly, Theo passed away in January at only 33 years old, just six months after Vincent.

Works comprised within the Bonger list are inevitably authentic. “Number 19.4 is described as Myosotis (forget-me-not) the only Van Gogh painting in the world on which a Myosotis (Forget-me-not flower) is painted and where size fits“, Roubrocks states.

Still Life with Peonies has been through an incessant decades-long struggle for recognition by the VGM and continues to, just as Farmhouse with Barn and Well is, and just as Sunset at Montmajour had. It should not be an absolute nightmare to have a museum recognize its namesake’s work, but it is! and, equally as exhausting.

When asked, “What positive changes would you wish for the Van Gogh world?” Marcus Roubrocks replied:

“The VGM has caused chaotic conditions in Van Gogh’s research and has been more concerned with commercialization and monopoly than Van Gogh’s legacy. Carrying sciences are ignored as well as provenances, inventory lists (Bonger list) and Van Gogh’s letters. The self-serving behavior has deprived the art world of genuine works for decades and prevented a proper reworking of the complete works. The VGM is to recognize and process errors that have not been prepared. It remains for the injured party only the way of a lawsuit, which is hardly to be led in the Netherlands because of the extremely high legal fees and the exercise of power. This has created an untenable situation that is not consistent with the basic rules of a museum. The VGM violates the code of ethics of the museums of the ICOM (International Council of Museums) and acts selfishly. It should also be kept in mind that the VGM is still an imperial museum and acts in the name of the kingdom. The VGM was about to function only as an exhibiting museum and hand over the authentication of Van Gogh works to an international impartial commission. World Heritage Vincent van Gogh should be accessible to all and free of commercial ideologies and absurd exercise of power.”


I strongly concur with this statement and would simply add that this is about expanding Vincent’s oeuvre, recognizing his work, sharing it with the world, and owing it to the gentle soul who gave us the joy of Sunflowers despite his inner turmoil. – The Van Gogh Museum is failing, Vincent!

OhVincent.com © 2023. All Rights Reserved with Regards to this Painting.
Privacy Policy / Terms of Use