Jul 28, 2020
News

A Van Gogh scholar has found the exact location depicted in the artist’s final painting.

Vincent van Gogh, Tree Roots, 1890. Courtesy the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, via Wikimedia Commons.

Vincent van Gogh, Tree Roots, 1890. Courtesy the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, via Wikimedia Commons.

A researcher in France believes he has found the location where Vincent Van Gogh created what some believe to be his final painting—the unfinished Tree Roots (1890). Van Gogh purportedly began painting the canvas on July 27th, 1890, the day he suffered a gunshot wound that would ultimately kill him two days later. Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Van Gogh Institute, recently discovered that the work was likely painted on Rue Daubigny, a main road in Auvers-sur-Oise, a provincial town 20 miles north of Paris where Van Gogh spent his last months.
According to van der Veen, the titular roots in Van Gogh’s painting were the key in identifying exactly where the work was created. The gnarled stumps and logs depicted in Van Gogh’s painting are still visible on a hillside roughly 500 feet from the inn that the artist stayed in during his final months; a fact that van der Veen discovered when looking at a century-old postcard of the town and seeing a similarity between the photographed logs and Van Gogh’s renderings.
This discovery may provide Van Gogh scholars with greater insight into the artist’s final days, as well as more concrete evidence that Tree Roots is, in fact, his final work. There is dispute over which work he painted last, as well as the nature of the gunshot wound that led to his death, which scholars variously attribute to either suicide and homicide. By discovering that the location of Tree Roots was so close to Van Gogh’s residence, van der Veen believes that he can now more fully build the events of the artist’s final day spent painting.