Museum Finds New Van Gogh Painting in Amsterdam, Previously Thought to Be a Fake

At least you'll be able to buy the poster in a gift shop soon.

On Monday, the Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam announced that it had identified a new major work by the artist.

The piece, “Sunset at Montmajour” was painted in 1888 in Arles, France during the height of Van Gogh's career. It wasn't in a museum, however, because the painting spent lot of time bouncing around in the collections of art collectors and dealers — including Van Gogh's brother. More recently, it was even hidden away in the attic of a Norwegian collector who was convinced that the painting was a fake.

The discovery and verification of a new Van Gogh painting is a rare occurrence. “We always think we’ve seen everything and we know everything, and now we’re able to add a significant new work to his oeuvre,” said the museum’s director, Axel Rüger in an interview with the New York Times. According to Rüger, "Sunset at Montmajour" is "completely unknown in the literature" that exists about Van Gogh's work.

The painting was purchased by its current owners from the attic the Norwegian collector. They then brought it to the museum for authentication.

Experts were able to verify the painting using a number of techniques and clues provided by Van Gogh's other works. Among them, both the canvas and underpainting of "Sunset at Montmajour" match those of another of Van Gogh's works, "The Rocks." Another compelling piece of evidence came about thanks to a letter written by Van Gogh a day after the painting was created. The words he wrote describe the scene depicted in the painting:

Yesterday, at sunset, I was on a stony heath where very small, twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill, and wheat fields in the valley. It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticello, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful; the whole scene had charming nobility.

Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888. The recently discovered work will be put on display in Amsterdam starting September 24.