Is it or isn't it?
A still life of meadow flowers and roses was once thought to have been painted by Vincent Van Gogh.
Then art historians decided it wasn't a Van Gogh.
Now they have changed their minds again thanks to a new X-ray technique that confirms the painting was in fact done by the tormented Dutch impressionist.
The painting is housed at the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in the central Netherlands. Using X-rays, art experts were able to see an underlying painting of two wrestlers. This, combined with historical information about Van Gogh's time at a Belgian art academy, have led them to conclude that "Still Life With Meadow Flowers and Roses" is indeed a Van Gogh.
Louis van Tilborgh, a senior researcher at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum who took part in the confirmation process, told The Associated Press there was no real eureka moment for the team of experts studying the still life and the underlying image of wrestlers. "All the pieces just fell into place," he said.
Measuring 40 inches by 31 inches, the painting was purchased by the Kroeller-Mueller Museum in 1974 as a Van Gogh. It was thought that the artist painted it in late 1886 when he was living with his brother, Theo, in Paris.
It was after it was hung in the museum that they started to have doubts about its authenticity for these reasons:
- The canvas was too large for the period.
- The depiction of the vase overflowing with flowers and even more flowers on the table in the foreground was far too busy for Van Gogh.
- Van Gogh's signature was in an unusual spot in the top right hand corner.
So in 2003, the Kroeller-Mueller Museum attributed the painting to an anonymous artist.
Let the detective work begin: An X-ray of the painting showed in great detail two wrestlers underneath, along with the brushstrokes and pigments used by the artist.
Four clues that prove "Still Life With Meadow Flowers and Roses" is a Van Gogh:
1. The wrestlers are half-naked, wearing only loincloths, a defining characteristic of the Antwerp academy where Van Gogh studied in early 1886, as is the size of the canvas, reports AP.
2. Art historians know that Vincent wrote to Theo, telling him he needed a large canvas, new brushes and paint. It was Theo who helped the penniless Vincent buy the materials he wanted. One week later, Van Gogh wrote to Theo, telling him was delighted with the painting he had done of two wrestlers.
3. Van Tilborgh told AP that the brush strokes and pigments in the painting of the wrestlers also corresponded with what experts now know about Van Gogh's work in Antwerp.
4. Since Van Gogh had to cover up the image of the wrestlers, he had to create a "busy" painting.
"Still Life With Meadow Flowers and Roses" now hangs in the Van Gogh section of the Kroeller-Mueller Museum.
--From the Editors at Netscape