Sep 3, 2020
News

A disputed van Gogh painting sold for $650,000 at auction.

Vincent van Gogh, The Wijk Mill, ca. 1883-85. Courtesy Dechow.

Vincent van Gogh, The Wijk Mill, ca. 1883-85. Courtesy Dechow.

A disputed Vincent van Gogh painting sold for €550,000 ($651,100) at a September 1st sale hosted by the German auction house Dechow. The work, titled The Wijk Mill (ca. 1883–85), was previously turned away by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam after the institution examined the painting and determined that it was not made by the artist. Dechow, however, claimed the painting was legitimate, with the auction house’s project manager Jens-Peter Franz telling Monopol ahead of the auction “we cannot prove that it is real, but there is a lot of evidence.”
To support its claim of authenticity, the auction house commissioned a chemical analysis and an art-historical report, as well an artificial intelligence–assisted investigation, Monopol reported. According to ARTnews, Ulrich Kuder, a professor at the University of Kiel in Germany, supports Dechow’s claim, stating that van Gogh created the painting between 1883 and 1885 while a student at the Hague School in the Netherlands, thus explaining both its similarities to the earlier Dutch painter Jacob van Ruisdael’s The Windmill at Wijk (1670) and the inscription of “van Gogh” rather than the artist’s usual signature of “Vincent.”
The attribution of this work is the most recent development in an eventful year in the artist's scholarship. In July, researchers with the Van Gogh Institute discovered what they believe to be the exact location where van Gogh painted his purported final painting, Tree Roots (1890), a claim that is similarly subject to dispute. Researcher Wouter van der Veen discovered the site after perusing an old postcard of Auvers-sur-Oise, the provincial town outside of Paris where Van Gogh spent his final months. Earlier in March, van Gogh’s painting The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring 1884 (1884) was stolen from the Dutch Museum Singer Laren, which had been closed to the public due to COVID-19.

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