A previously unattributed painting has been confirmed as an authentic work by Vincent van Gogh.
Photo: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Self-Portrait of Van Gogh Discovered Beneath Still Life

A painting in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut has been officially designated as a work by the Postimpressionist master

Leading Dutch researchers have recently designated a painting in the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, as an official work by Postimpressionist master Vincent van Gogh.

The long-disputed work, Vase with Poppies, was thought to have been painted in the late 1800s and was given to the Connecticut museum in 1957. Given the dubious origins of the painting, it was put into storage in 1990 and has not been on display since. Scholars from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam used new technologies to examine the work, including a digital X-ray that revealed a self-portrait of the artist beneath the cheerful layers of poppies.

Vase with Poppies is thought to have been completed when the artist lived in Paris in 1886. Photo: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

“This extraordinary collaboration and harnessing of technology and professional discernment simply not available until now is a reminder of the opportunities today to both enrich discourse in the field and take stock in our collections,” Thomas Loughman, director and chief executive of the Wadsworth Atheneum, said in a statement.

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The work was also discovered to have been presented at the Armory Show in New York in 1913. The scholars who examined the piece say that it fits stylistically with similar paintings of flowers Van Gogh made while living in Paris in 1886.

Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum, said in a press release that many unauthenticated artworks believed to be by Van Gogh, referred to in the field as “floaters,” are known to exist around the world, and one by one they are being examined.

A draft of a self-portrait, hidden under the floral painting, was revealed in an X-ray. Photo: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

“Slowly but surely real progress is being made in Van Gogh studies. Some of these floaters even turned out to be firmly anchored in Van Gogh’s oeuvre, and Vase with Poppies, I am happy to say, is one of them,” Van Tilborgh said.

The painting will return to the Wadsworth until the fall, when it will be loaned the Museum Barberini in Potsdam, Germany, from October to February for an exhibition that focuses on Van Gogh’s floater works and includes other pieces recently attributed to the artist.


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