25 February 2010
ZWOLLE, THE NETHERLANDS -- A painting of a windmill by Vincent van Gogh, previously unknown, has been authenticated by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The painting, Le Blute-Fin Mill, was purchased by the late Dirk Hannema, former curator of the Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen in Rotterdam.
Mr. Hannema's unyielding belief that his painting, purchased in 1975 from Hein Art Dealers in Paris, was a genuine Van Gogh may have ironically been part of the reason why the work wasn't fully authenticated until 25 years after his death. Mr. Hannema owned a vast art collection and passionately maintained that many of his works of dubious attribution were the product of genuine masters. “He was the laughing stock of the art world,” Louis van Tilborgh, the Van Gogh Museum's curator of research, said. “His tragedy was that he was always thinking in terms of the big names.” As a result, Mr. Hannema's conviction that Le Blute-Fin Mill was a genuine Van Gogh went unheeded by most in the art world.
Louis van Tilborgh and Ella Hendricks, the conservator at the Van Gogh Museum, undertook a stylistic and technical analysis of the painting and determined that the work was indeed by Vincent van Gogh. It's extremely rare for unknown Van Gogh works to be fully authenticated by the Van Gogh Museum. The last time this happened was fifteen years ago when Flowers in a Blue Vase was authenticated by the Dutch museum in 1995. In fact, it's only the sixth newly attributed Van Gogh work to be added to the artist's oeuvre since the publication of the 1970 (De la Faille) Van Gogh catalogue raisonné.
Dirk Hannema's extensive personal collection of art works formed the basis of the holdings of the Museum de Fundatie in Zwolle, The Netherlands which now owns Le Blute-Fin Mill. In celebration of the official authentication of the painting, the Museum de Fundatie has opened an exhibition "The Discovery - Vincent van Gogh ’s Le Blute-Fin Mill" (from 25 February until 4 July). The exhibition will include two other works from Van Gogh's Paris period, comparable in style to Le Blute-Fin Mill: Vase with Gladioli (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) and The Bois de Boulogne with People Walking (Noro Foundation, Curaçao, Netherland Antilles).