New van Gogh painting discovered: 'Sunset at Montmajour'

Story highlights

  • The painting has been identified as a van Gogh after "extensive research," a museum says
  • "A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred," the Van Gogh Museum says
  • The picture is from 1888, during a period considered by many to be the high point of his career
  • It depicts a landscape in the south of France, where van Gogh was working at the time

More than 120 years after Vincent van Gogh's death, a new painting by the Dutch master has come to light.

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which holds the largest collection of the artist's work, announced Monday the discovery of the newly identified painting, a landscape titled "Sunset at Montmajour."

"A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum," the museum's director, Axel Ruger, said in a statement.

Van Gogh is believed to have completed the relatively large painting in 1888, two years before his death and during "a period that is considered by many to be the culmination of his artistic achievement," Ruger said.

The picture depicts a landscape in the vicinity of Arles in the south of France, where van Gogh was working at that time, the museum said.

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Ruger said the museum attributed the painting to van Gogh after "extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, van Gogh's letters and the provenance."

Starting September 24, it will appear in "Van Gogh At Work," an exhibition currently on show at the museum in Amsterdam.

From the 'Sunflowers' period

Van Gogh (1853-1890) crafted some of the world's best known and most loved paintings, including "Sunflowers," "Irises" and "Starry Night," and a number of self-portraits.

He painted "Sunset at Montmajour" during the same period in which he produced "Sunflowers," Ruger said.

Van Gogh achieved little recognition as an artist during his lifetime, but his reputation blossomed in the years after his suicide at the age of 37, following years of mental illness.

His works now hang in leading museums and galleries around the world.

During the art market boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s, three of van Gogh's works succeeded each other as the most expensive paintings ever sold: "Sunflowers" for $39.9 million, "Irises" for $53.9 million and "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" for $82.5 million.

In its statement, the Van Gogh Museum didn't divulge the full story behind the discovery of "Sunset at Montmajour," saying it would be published in the October edition of The Burlington Magazine, a fine art publication, and at the museum.

Louis van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp, two senior researchers at the museum, said the painting had belonged to the collection of van Gogh's younger brother, Theo, in 1890 and was sold in 1901.

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