Painting Attributed to van Gogh Contested by Experts Ahead of Sale in Germany

Tessa Solomon

BY TESSA SOLOMONAugust 26, 2020 2:08pm

A detail of “The Wijk Mill”

A detail of ‘The Wijk Mill’ which has been attributed to Vincent van Gogh.COURTESY DECHOW

Despite questions over who really produced the work, a painting attributed to Vincent van Gogh is headed to sale at the German auction house Dechow. The work, titled The Wijk Mill, has been rejected by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which is considered the foremost authority on the artist.

According to Monopol, officials at the institution told the German Press Agency, “The museum has examined this painting and does not think that the work was made by Vincent van Gogh.” The work is slated to appear in an online auction on September 1, with a starting bid of €500,000 (about $600,000). 

Ulrich Kuder, a professor at the University of Kiel in Germany, claims van Gogh created The Wijk Mill during his studies at the Hague School in the Netherlands between 1883 and 1885. The works created by van Gogh within that period lack the artist’s instantly recognizable brushwork and vibrancy, which he developed later under the influence of the Impressionists in Paris.

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The Wijk Mill was painted in the style of 16th-century Dutch painter Jacob van Ruisdael, whom van Gogh greatly admired in the early part of his career. A near copy of van Ruisdael’s The Windmill at Wijk (1670), save for its color palette, the work is being presented by Dechow as one of the earliest surviving oil paintings by van Gogh.

Kuder argued that the lettering painted on the canvas matches Van Gogh’s handwriting, but the work’s signature has given others pause. The Wijk Mill is signed “van Gogh,” though the artist was known for signing his paintings “Vincent,” as foreign buyers had difficulty pronouncing his last name. 

According to Jens-Peter Franz, a manager at Dechow, the work was acquired in 1904 by a merchant from Leipzig. The merchant then bequeathed the painting to his granddaughter, who privately sold it. The painting allegedly changed hands once more in 1994 before being acquired by Dechow, which specializes in the sale of industrial materials. Speaking to Monopol, Franz said, “We cannot prove that it is real, but there is a lot of evidence.”


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