– after being branded a fake, dumped in an attic and hidden from public view for more than a century – the oil on canvas was finally hailed as a masterpiece.
It is the first full-size canvas by the Dutch master discovered since 1928. The museum said the painting belongs to an unidentified private collector and will be on display at the museum from September 24
Researchers linked ‘Sunset at Montmajour’ to Van Gogh’s hand-written musings about what he did that day in the summer of 1888 – and used 21st century technology to confirm the painting’s authenticity.
Now the long-lost work is to go on show as the first full-size Van Gogh to emerge for 85 years. If it is ever offered for sale it is likely to attract bids in the tens of millions.
The landscape was painted on July 4, 1888, and mentioned the next day in a letter the artist wrote to his brother Theo. He described the scene but expressed disappointment at the painting, saying: ‘It was well below what I’d wished to do.’
Van Gogh, who struggled with bouts of mental illness, was often highly critical of his own work, including some of his most famous, such as ‘Starry Night’, which he painted the following year.
After he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1890, ‘Sunset…’ was listed by number in Theo’s collection. It was bought about 20 years later by Norwegian industrialist Christian Mustad. But Mustad appears to have been told it was a forgery, or at least wrongly attributed – so he banished it to the attic.