A newly identified landscape painting believed to have been created by Vincent Van Gogh in 1888, just two years before his death, was unveiled Monday by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
“Sunset at Montmajour” depicts a wooded area near Arles in the south of France. The museum said that the work dates from around the same period that Van Gogh created his famous “Sunflowers” painting.
The museum said it has spent two years authenticating the piece, using historic records, X-ray analysis and other techniques.
“A discovery of this magnitude has never before occurred in the history of the Van Gogh Museum,” said Axel Rüger, the museum director, in a statement. "It is already a rarity that a new painting can be added to Van Gogh’s oeuvre."
The museum said that there are two letters from the artist from the summer of 1888 that directly refer to the painting, which he considered to be a failed effort.
The work belonged to the collection of Theo van Gogh, the painter’s brother, in 1890 and was sold in 1901, according to the museum. After that, ownership of the canvas becomes somewhat unclear.
At one point, the piece belonged to a Norwegian collector who stored it in an attic after being told the work wasn’t an authentic Van Gogh. The painting currently belongs to private collectors who wish to remain anonymous, according to reports.
“Sunset at Montmajour,” whose French title is “Coucher de soleil sur Montmajour,” is a relatively large discovery in physical terms, measuring about 3 feet by 2½ feet.
The painting will go on display at the Van Gogh Museum starting Sept. 24.