The Telegraph has reported that German collector Markus Roubrocks is hoping that a lone strand of hair embedded in the painting Still Life with Peonies will provide the conclusive evidence that the work is indeed by Vincent Van Gogh. The hair which has been extracted and will be tested against the DNA of one of Van Gogh’s living relatives will determine whether the painting is worth close to $61 Million or merely a competent work in the style on Van Gogh likely worth less than $10,000.
The Telegraph writes,
The bright painting of a vase of multicoloured peonies resting on a wooden floor was discovered in a Belgian attic in 1977, and since then debate has raged in the art world whether it is the work of the Dutch master.
Mr Roubrocks, who inherited the painting from his father, has always argued it is an original Van Gogh dating from the spring of 1889 just a year before the artist took his own life. Two independent art experts who examined the picture independently backed his claim, but the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam contests this, saying the brush strokes are inconsistent with Van Gogh’s style, and therefore the painting is nothing more than an expert piece of forgery.
Ester Monnik, the conservation expert who lifted the hair off the painting, is in little doubt that it belongs to the creator of the work, whoever it might be.
Rather than splitting hairs, it would be nice if Roubrocks could find something a little more substantial beneath the surface such as Kroeller-Mueller Museum did when the existence of two wrestlers in the underpainting which completely turned the tables on a Van Gogh painting of flowers with a previously highly doubtful attribution.