AMSTERDAM – The Van Gogh Museum on Tuesday announced the discovery of a previously unknown drawing by Vincent van Gogh, which the museum said was completed about a month after the Dutch postimpressionist artist arrived in Paris in 1886. The museum’s researchers studied the style and history of “The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry,” dated March 1886, and found documents that they said confirm that it is a lost Van Gogh.
“It’s a big day today,” said Teio Meedendorp, a senior researcher at the museum who studied the subject, style, technique, materials and provenance of the drawing, and found the relevant documentary evidence to support the attribution.
The museum owns the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works, including more than half of the artist’s drawn oeuvre — approximately 500 drawings as well as his sketchbooks.
Meedendorp said the drawing is particularly interesting because it is more in keeping with Van Gogh’s earlier style than his later work when he lived in Paris. He added that the drawing shows that Van Gogh’s work evolved during his crucial years in the French capital from a formal style that he learned at the art academy in Antwerp to one that became increasingly experimental.
“It’s a kind of stylistic missing link between his Belgium and Paris time,” said Fred Leeman, who is a consultant to the Van Vlissingen Foundation, which owns the drawing.
The researchers found that the drawing came into the hands of Van Gogh’s sister-in-law, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. It led the museum to reconsider another drawing that it had in its collection, which had been part of the donation from the Van Gogh family heirs. That drawing, “The Hill of Montmartre,” was originally thought to be by Van Gogh, but in 2001 it was questioned and discredited because it was so dissimilar to work from his Paris period. Researchers realized that the works were incredibly similar, and both were attributed to Van Gogh.