The Van Gogh Museum said Tuesday that a notebook of drawings billed as the Dutch artist’s lost work were imitations, shooting down claims by a French publisher to have made a major art discovery.
The Amsterdam-based museum said its experts had long been aware of the notebook, and on the basis of being sent 56 photos of 65 of its drawings “they were of the opinion that these could not be attributed to Vincent Van Gogh”.
The announcement came as French publishers Le Seuil told a press Paris conference that it was publishing 65 previously unknown Van Gogh’s drawings in a book on Thursday entitled “Vincent Van Gogh, the fog of Arles: the rediscovered sketchbook”.
But the Van Gogh museum said its experts had also examined the original drawings in 2013 and “did not change their minds”.
“Their opinion, based on years of research on Van Gogh’s drawings … is that these album drawings are imitations of Van Gogh’s drawings,” the museum said in a statement.
“The experts examined its style, technique and iconography, and among their conclusions were that it contains distinctive topographical errors and that its maker based it on discoloured drawings by Van Gogh,” the museum added.
Another clue debunking the authenticity of the notebook was that the drawings “are executed in brownish ink, and this type of ink has never been found in Van Gogh’s drawings from the years 1888-1890.”
The museum, one of Amsterdam’s major tourist attractions, holds some 500 Van Gogh drawings and four of his sketchbooks.
Le Seuil had described the sketches as “a very impressive ensemble” and insisted that “their authenticity is well established”.
It claimed the accounts book was found in the archives of the Cafe de la Gare in Arles where Van Gogh painted furiously over the period of his year-long stay there.