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A 125 Year Old Sunset by Emily Sorenson


A 125 Year Old Sunset

By Emily Sorenson

The Van Gogh Museum, located in Amsterdam, unveiled a new painting by renowned artist Vincent Van Gogh, on Monday, September 9.  The new painting, “Sunset at Montmajour,” is a depiction of a landscape from Arles near Provence located in the South of France.

The full story behind “Sunset at Montmajour” will be revealed in the October publication of The Burlington Magazine, this will include the decades spent in a Norwegian attic and its discovery. The painting, estimated to cost tens of thousands of dollars, is scheduled to be displayed at the Van Gogh Museum starting September 24.

For the past two years, the Van Gough Museum has been proving the authenticity of the painting. Museum director Axel Ruger said the process of authentication included “extensive research into style, technique, paint, canvas, the depiction, Van Gogh’s letters, and the provenance.”

The painting is unsigned by the famous artist; however, recent technology has allowed the pigments, canvas, and style to be verified as a perfect match to the materials that Van Gogh worked with in other paintings. The painting is of remarkable size, stretching out across a large, full-sized canvas. A painting this size by Van Gogh was last discovered in 1928.

“Sunset at Montmajour” has been dated to July 4, 1888, through a letter written from Van Gogh to his brother. The letter placed the painting in the artists’ “Sunflowers” period which is also referred to as his mature period.  Many scholars believe this to be the height of his artistic achievement. Other well-known paintings from this period include “Irises”, and “Starry Night”.

From the letter, Van Gogh described the paintings landscape, “It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful; the whole scene had charming nobility.”

The Van Gogh Museum houses over 140 paintings by the famous Dutch artist. Regarding the unveiling of Sunset, museum director Axel Ruger stated this as a “once in a lifetime” discovery.