Van Gogh Painting Discovered After 100 Years
A landscape painting banished to a Norwegian attic after it was decided it was a fake or wrongly attributed has now been identified as a genuine work by Vincent van Gogh.
It is the first full-size canvas by the Dutch master to have been discovered since 1928.
Sunset At Montmajour depicts twisted holly oaks and a distant ruin bathed in the light of the setting sun, painted with van Gogh's familiar thick brush strokes.
Experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam said the painting had been authenticated by letters, its style and the physical materials that had been used.
The exact date it was painted can be identified because Vincent described it in a letter to his brother Theo, and said he painted it the previous day, which was July 4, 1888.
He said the painting had been done "on a stony heath where small twisted oaks grow".
Museum director Axel Rueger described the discovery as a "once-in-a-lifetime experience" at an unveiling ceremony.
"What makes this even more exceptional is that this is a transition work in his oeuvre, and moreover, a large painting from a period that is considered by many to be the culmination of his artistic achievement, his period in Arles," he said.
The museum as recently as 1991 dismissed the painting as a work by another artist or a fake, in part because it was not signed.
But now the work, belonging to an unidentified private collector, will go on display in Amsterdam from September 24.
New research techniques, including analysis of the pigments in the paint used and their discolouration, used during a two-year investigation convinced experts of its authenticity.
Researcher Teio Meedendorp said he and other researchers "have found answers to all the key questions, which is remarkable for a painting that has been lost for more than 100 years".
The painting was listed among Theo van Gogh's collection as number 180, and that number can still be seen on the back of the canvas.
The work was sold in 1901.
Vincent van Gogh struggled with bouts of mental distress throughout his life, and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1890, just as his work was beginning to win acclaim.
He sold only one painting while he was alive.
The Van Gogh Museum, which houses 140 of the Dutch master's works, receives more than a million visitors annually, and van Gogh paintings are among the most valuable in the world.