The controversy between the Threshold, the publisher of a book of drawings attributed to Van Gogh, and the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam raises a series of questions about the history of the document, the ink and paper used, and above all the style of the artist.
- The history books -
According to the French publisher, it is the art-expert Franck Baille that is at the origin of the discovery. The co-founder of the Hotel sales Monte-Carlo stated that she had knowledge of the existence of the book “during a hunting party in 2008″.
It is a member of the family of the owner who presents him for the first time in the book.
In 2013, Franck Baille entrusts “the investigation” into the authenticity of this document to the expert canadian Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov.
According to the narrative made by Mrs. Welsh-Ovcharov, the book was discovered by the mother of the present owner in 1944 “in a shed on the whereabouts of the accounting records of the Café de la Gare” in Arles. The mother gave this book to his daughter in 1964 for its 20th anniversary. It was kept all these years in a closet.
The book, a book of accounts called “fog”, had been donated to Van Gogh by the couple Ginoux, the owner of the Coffee Station. The book would have been returned to the Ginoux in may 1890 by Dr. Rey, who had treated Van Gogh after his self-mutilation.
The Amsterdam Museum disputes this version. It is “highly unlikely” that the book will re-emerge in 1944 and it took “more than 60 years before that we wonder if it could be related in any way to Van Gogh”.
Regarding the Dr. Rey, the Museum believes that the doctor “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 ink and the paper -
According to the Threshold, the original colour of the paper on which have been made in the 65 drawings was “a pale blue, something quite common for the +mists+ products at the end of the Eighteenth century in France”.
Arles, admits the editor, “Van Gogh used yellow paper, and never in the color blue.” But, he adds, the painter, worked sometimes before, “the paper tint of grey or blue”. The paper “fog”, “hand made”, is “high quality” and “absorbs ink well”.
The inks used in the book are of different colors including “a brown ink-based sepia”. “We know,” says the editor, “that the painter was familiar with various types of ink.”
For the Amsterdam Museum the drawings of the book have been performed with a “sepia ink-shellac”. However, he insists, “this type of ink has never been found in the work of the years 1888-1890. Van Gogh, then drew in black (and occasionally purple)”.
Regarding the paper “its colour greenish-blue, sensément produced about 200 years ago, would have also had to become discolored,” says the Museum.
- style -
“In the +fog+, we find the great artist that we know through extraordinary paintings” and “a graphic designer unexpected,” says the editor. “We can recognize the sites represented”, he adds. These designs bring a new light on his creative practice in Arles and Saint-Rémy as well as insights into unique and intimate about his artistic vision”.
This point is flatly disputed by the netherlands institution.
the drawings of The book “does 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 this time”.
“The style is monotonous, clumsy and without spirit,” judge severely the Museum, which notes that “a number of scenes of the album contain errors topographic striking, so that it does not exist in the work of Van Gogh”.
- business Challenge -
“Vincent Van Gogh, the fog of Arles, book found” is a big commercial issue for The Threshold, which holds the world rights.
The book will also be published Thursday in the United Kingdom and the United States (Abrams) and in Germany (Verlag) as well as in the netherlands (Lanoo). The title will also be published in a few weeks in Japan by Kawade Shobo Shinsha.
The book, sold 69 euros, which is the subject of an initial total of some 70,000 copies, of which 25,000 in French.
16/11/2016 19:01:50 – Paris (AFP) – © 2016 AFP