Sunset at Montmajour

Sunset at Montmajour
Artist Vincent van Gogh
Year 1888
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 73.3 cm × 93.3 cm (28.9 in × 36.7 in)

Sunset at Montmajour is a landscape in oils painted by the Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh in July 1888.[1][2] It was painted while the artist was at Arles, France and depicts a landscape of garrigue with the ruins of Montmajour Abbey in the background.[1][3] The painting is 73.3 cm × 93.3 cm (28.9 in × 36.7 in) and was on display from 24 September 2013 until 12 January 2014 as part of an exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.[3]

Its authenticity was questioned several times before it was confirmed as a genuine van Gogh work in 2013. It is the first full-sized painting by Van Gogh to be newly confirmed since 1928.[1][4]


The painting was inventoried among Theo van Gogh's collection of his brother's works in 1890.[5][6] It was sold in 1901,[6] after which there is no enduring record of its ownership or provenance. The painting seemingly became "lost" though it was purchased shortly thereafter.

In 1908 a Norwegian industrialist, Christian Nicolai Mustad, who believed it to be the work of van Gogh,[2] purchased and displayed the painting at his home. According to Mustad's family, the French ambassador to Sweden, while a guest at Mustad's home, advised that it probably was not by van Gogh.[1] At that time Mustad took it down from display. The painting remained stored in his attic until Mustad's death, when it reappeared as part of his estate.[7]


External video
A new Van Gogh discovery: Sunset at Montmajour (in Dutch), Van Gogh Museum

In the 1990s, the painting was shown to staff at the Van Gogh Museum, but it was dismissed as not the work of van Gogh because it was not signed.[1] With the development of improved investigative techniques, however, in 2011 a two-year investigation was launched by the Van Gogh Museum to examine the possible authenticity of the painting.[8] The painting was subjected to a detailed investigation of style and materials. It was discovered to have been painted in the same range of paints that appears in works by van Gogh at that period,[1] which led to further research. Among the evidence that confirmed the painting's authenticity was a letter written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo on 5 July 1888, describing a landscape that he had painted the previous day:

"Yesterday, at sunset, I was on a stony heath where very small, twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill, and wheatfields in the valley. It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful, the whole scene had a charming nobility. You wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see knights and ladies suddenly appear, returning from hunting with hawks, or to hear the voice of an old Provençal troubadour. The fields seemed purple, the distances blue. And I brought back a study of it too, but it was well below what I’d wished to do."[9][3]

On 9 September 2013, the Van Gogh Museum announced in a public unveiling of the painting, that the work had been confirmed as a painting by van Gogh.[1][10]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "New Vincent Van Gogh painting identified". BBC News. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Long-lost Van Gogh painting unveiled in Amsterdam". AFP. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 "Newly discovered Van Gogh painting kept in attic for years". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  4. Sapa-AFP (10 September 2013). "Long lost Van Gogh discovered". Sunday Times. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  5. The painting bears Theo's inventory number: 180.
  6. 1 2 "Van Gogh Museum discovers new painting by Vincent van Gogh: Sunset at Montmajour". Van Gogh Museum. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  7. Memmott, Mark (9 September 2013). "'New' Van Gogh Painting Identified; Was in a Norwegian Attic". NPR. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  8. Siegal, Nina (9 September 2013). "Museum Identifies New Van Gogh Painting in Amsterdam". New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  9. "Letter 636: To Theo van Gogh. Arles, Thursday, 5 July 1888.". Vincent van Gogh: The Letters. Van Gogh Museum. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  10. "Van Gogh's Sunset at Montmajour: 'a major addition to the oeuvre'". Daily Telegraph UK. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
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