‘Lost’ Van Gogh sketchbook draws heated controversy
The discovery of 65 previously unknown drawings said to be by Vincent Van Gogh has set off a bitter row about their authenticity, with Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum dismissing as fakes what others hailed as one of the biggest art world finds in years.
The museum claimed Tuesday that the contents of the socalled lost sketchbook unveiled by French publishers were imitations and “could not be attributed to Vincent Van Gogh”.
But experts behind the discovery accused the museum of “jealousy”, adding that “it was not the first time the Van Gogh Museum has got it wrong”.
The sketches come from the Dutch artist’s time in the southern French city of Arles, when he produced some of his greatest paintings.
The museum spoke up as respected French publishing house Le Seuil was unveiling copies of the sketches in Paris. Its book of the drawings, Vincent Van Gogh, the Fog of Arles: the Rediscovered Sketchbook, is to be published worldwide on Thursday.
Its editor, Bernard Comment, said respected experts were convinced they were real. Van Gogh made the ink drawings in the accounts book of the famous Cafe de la Gare, where he stayed at various times between 1888 and 1890, toward the end of his life, he said.
British expert Ronald Pickvance claimed the book was “the most revolutionary discovery in the history of Van Gogh” studies.
Le Seuil said that the ledger was found in the archives of the Cafe de la Gare, and was owned by “a woman of modest means” living in the south of France.
But the Van Gogh Museum said that having seen high quality photographs of 56 of the 65 sketches, its experts concluded they were not by Van Gogh. “The experts examined its style, technique and iconography, and among their conclusions were that it contains distinctive topographical errors and that its maker based it on discolored drawings by Van Gogh,” the museum added.
Copies of Sketchbook. theFogofArles:theRediscovered