A drawing newly attributed to Vincent van Gogh that has never been displayed publicly before is going on display at the Amsterdam museum that bears the Dutch master’s name.
The “new” van Gogh, Study for Worn Out, from November 1882, is part of a Dutch private collection and was known to only a handful of people, including a few from the Van Gogh Museum.
The owner, who wanted to remain anonymous, asked the museum to determine if the unsigned drawing was by van Gogh.
From the style, to the materials used — a thick carpenter’s pencil and coarse watercolour paper — it conforms to van Gogh’s Hague drawings, senior researcher Teio Meedendorp said Thursday.
There are even traces of damage on the back linking it to the way van Gogh used wads of starch to attach sheets of paper to drawing boards.
“It’s quite rare for a new work to be attributed to van Gogh,” the museum’s director, Emilie Gordenker, said in a statement. “We’re proud to be able to share this early drawing and its story with our visitors.”
The drawing is a far cry from the vibrant oil paintings featuring vases of sunflowers and French landscapes that van Gogh is known for. (Peter Dejong/The Associated Press) Drawing was artist’s effort to improve skills
It comes from a time in the artist’s career when he was working to improve his skills as a painter of people and portraits by drawing them over and over again.
The museum already owns the almost identical drawing, Worn Out.
“It was quite clear that they are related,” Meedendorp said.
The study has been loaned to the museum and will be shown from Friday through Jan. 2.
The drawing shows an elderly, balding man sitting hunched forward on a wooden chair, his head in his hands. Even the model’s pants appear to conform to the English title — a patch is clearly visible on the right leg.
It is a far cry from the vibrant oil paintings of vases of sunflowers and French landscapes that eventually turned van Gogh into one of the world’s most famous artists after his death in 1890. His works have garnered astronomical prices at auction.
Visitors look at a self portrait of van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum on Thursday. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)
Instead, it illustrates how, as a young artist practising his craft in The Hague in 1882, van Gogh had to confront an uncomfortable truth.
“He discovered that he lacked the ability to paint people. So he was already drawing them, but he liked to paint,” Meedendorp said. “So in order to be able to paint people as well he went back to the drawing board.”
Van Gogh, who was famously reliant on his brother Theo’s generosity throughout his life, gave the drawings an English title in a bid to build a bit of name recognition and possibly even land a job at an illustrated magazine.
“In his mind, he had an idea that he would reach out farther than Holland in the end as an artist,” Meedendorp said.
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