Artlyst.com has reported that the catalogue raisonné of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings just expanded by two works with a single entry. It appears that an uncharacteristic still life dubiously attributed to Van Gogh due to its large size and garishness has finally been authenticated with a little help from from its past. X-rays have revealed that the still life was painted over a “lost” work by Van Gogh of two wrestlers that he referred to in his letter to his brother Theo on January 22, 1885. Van Gogh wrote that he was working on “a big thing with two naked torsos, two wrestlers.”
Professor Janssens of Antwerp University said: ‘For the first time, we could obtain images that reveal how Van Gogh started sketching parts of the wrestlers with broad paint strokes, much in the same manner in which he painted the figures in the oil sketch of the Potato Eaters, which would later become regarded as one of this most important early works.’
Professor Joris Dik of Delft University said: ‘What makes it very tangible is this letter which refers to a painting that was thought to have been lost or had not survived.’ He said that it was in Paris that Van Gogh became ‘obsessed’ with flower painting, leaving behind his Dutch period, ‘where he used mostly dark colours’.
Luuk Struick van der Loeff of the Kröller-Müller Museum said: ‘These and other arguments…leave no doubt that the wrestlers and the flower still life were painted by Van Gogh.’