EXCLUSIVE - Le Figaro has published the case in full to the Van Gogh Museum, about 65 designs to be released tomorrow 17 November, as emblems of the Dutch painter by the editions of the Threshold. The facsimile of this book comes out simultaneously in the United States and the United Kingdom (Abrams), Germany (Verlag), the netherlands (Lannoo) and Japan.
“For some time we know this album of 65 drawings, published Thursday, November 17, in fac-simile, and nicknamedThe Fog of Arles (Threshold , 288 p. 69 €). In 2008 and 2012, our experts had already given their opinion on its authenticity – an opinion that is not mentioned in the publication – at the request of the various owners.”
“Our researchers and curators are pleased to any new work that can be properly attributed to Van Gogh, but on the basis of high-quality photographs which were sent from 56 of the 65 drawings, they have again concluded that these could not be the hand of the painter.”
“After reviewing a number of originals in 2013, and read the publication, our experts, whose opinion is based on years of research in the collection house and elsewhere – the Van Gogh Museum, retaining approximately 500 drawings by Van Gogh and four of his books have not changed your mind. This book of sketches of Arles is an imitation, both from the point of view of style, technique, materials and iconography. It also contains errors, topographic.”
style. “The study suggests that the 65 sheets date back to a period from the spring of 1888 to the spring of 1890. But, curiously, these do not reflect in no way the development of Van Gogh as a draughtsman at the time. This is very surprising, as it was evolving at that time. In the Fog there was no difference in style between the designs of Arles and Saint-Rémy. In addition, unlike the paintings, the style is monotonous, clumsy and without spirit. The refinement characteristic of the artist – which includes his ability to draw quickly without sacrificing accuracy, for his deep sense of the chiaroscuro and the clever way in which it has integrated an enormous range of techniques in a completely convincing – is not evident here.”
“The drawings have been executed with a sepia ink-shellac. This ink type has never been found in the work of the years 1888-1890. Van Gogh, then drew in black.”
ink. “another point telling is that the drawings have been executed with a sepia ink-shellac. This ink type has never been found in the work of the years 1888-1890. Van Gogh, then drew in black (and occasionally purple); the ink has greatly faded over time, becoming brown. It is noticed in the study that the Fog has undergone a fading. In this case, it should be kept long open, but it is deemed to be remained always closed. For the paper, its colour greenish-blue, sensément produced about 200 years ago, would have also had to become discolored. Given these considerations, the author of the drawings must have deliberately sought effects brownish. In combination with the iconography chosen – scenes of Arles and Saint-Rémy – this shows that he has been inspired by the drawings of Van Gogh in their state posterior, and discolored. Apparently he did not know that their original color was black.”
topography. “Our experts have also observed that a number of scenes of the album contain errors topographic striking, so that it does not exist in the work of Van Gogh. For example, the person who designed the wing of the men of the asylum of Saint-Rémy was represented by twice as ending abruptly, as if it were a stand-alone building. In reality, the wing was connected to the main building. Another example: the design of the drawbridge at Arles, known as the Bridge of Langlois. It shows the house of the coxswain, but to the wrong side of the channel. The “errors” of this kind are numerous to the point that it seems that the author of the Mist – the author of his study – is not very familiar with the places in question. These “errors” are erroneous interpretations of the works of autographs.”
The source. “She also raises many questions. The owner said in 2007 that the Mist came from Ginoux in Arles – friends of Van Gogh, who owned the Café de la Gare, where he was a regular visitor and used it as a hotel for a time in 1888. But this historical fact does not of itself constitute a proof of authenticity. In fact, Ginoux had not a single drawing of Van Gogh in 1896, according to their archives, also cited in the study. Further, it is argued that the Mist has been lost in the café to re-surface in the former home of Van Gogh in Arles, the well-known Yellow House, in 1944. Nearly 50 years later. And it would still have taken more than 60 years before that we wonder if it could be related in any way to Van Gogh. We consider that this assumption is highly unlikely.”
“In our opinion, the book is an unreliable source, and we believe that it should be subjected to a more thorough examination.”
additional documents. “The fac-simile published this Thursday, November 17, is added, add, another. A small book, lacunar, said “the Coffee Station”, presented as having belonged to the Ginoux. It is a kind of handrail to the institution for which it would only be 26 pages. These contain daily notes, one of which is allegedly a reference to the Fog.
But as the drawings of the book are not, in our opinion, the work of Van Gogh, there are also doubts as to the authenticity of this document. We also know of its existence since 2012, when the owner of the drawings sent to us by computer photos of four of these 26 pages. Apparently, they had just brought to light. We were very surprised to see that two of these four pages are missing from the published facsimile. They contain a note dated June 19, 1890, which includes a reference to Van Gogh. Our surprise was great when we found this same statement, worded in exactly the same terms, in a note dated June 10, 1890. We would very much like to know how this is possible. How many pages of that notebook have been preserved: 26, 28, or more? And to what extent is this document reliable if exactly the same statement can be found at two different dates?”
Conclusion. “All of this only reinforces our opinion: this book of the Coffee Station is not authentic. A passage, dated may 20, 1890, mentions that dr. Rey – who had treated Van Gogh at the hospital of Arles for his ear cut off – has, in the name of the artist, delivered an album of drawings in the Ginoux. The assumption is that Rey has visited his patient at the asylum of Saint-Rémy. But nothing, moreover, is no evidence that the two men have remained in contact. Rey lived probably not be in Arles at this time, given that his employment at the hospital had come to an end in 1889, and that he had to defend his phd thesis in Montpellier in June 1890.
The correspondence between Van Gogh and Ginoux in may and June did not contain the slightest mention of a visit of Rey or of the awarding of a book of drawings. No mention prior that it had been expected, nor a word of thanks, and even less details on this great gift. In our opinion, the book is an unreliable source, and we believe that it should be subject to a more thorough review. Because our previous opinion on Fog is not included in the study, the Van Gogh Museum has chosen to disclose this information.”