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Van Gogh Experts Authenticate Unusual Painting Now on View at Museum de Fundatie
"Le Blute-Fin Mill", by Vincent van Gogh. The newly authenticated Van Gogh has gone on display 35 years after an art collector bought it in Paris, convinced it was painted by the famed Dutch master but never able to prove it. Louis van Tilborgh, curator of research at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, said "Le Blute-Fin Mill" was done in 1886. He said its large human figures are unusual for a Van Gogh landscape but it has his typically bright colors. AP Photo/Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle.

Text by: Liz Marie Gangemi

AMSTERDAM.- Today, the most recent painting to be authenticated as a genuine work of art created by Vincent Van Gogh, “Le Blute-Fin Mill”, was put on display in the Museum de Fundatie in the central Dutch town of Zwolle, Amsterdam. The 19th century painting of a Paris mill was declared an original 25 years after the death of the man who bought it – Dirk Hannema.

The painting’s owner Dirk Hannema, who was born in Batavia, Dutch East Indies in 1895, bought the piece in 1975 in Paris from an antique and art dealer for 5,000 Dutch guilders ($2,700), and then immediately insured it for 16 times more than what he paid. Hannema claimed that he was “absolutely certain” that the work of art was an original, but, because of an earlier claim of having bought a Vermeer in 1937 that was later proven to be a forgery, the buyer’s declarations were discredited and went disregarded. Nevertheless Hannema, who was born to a wealthy art-collecting family, and was named art director of the respected Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam in 1921 when he was only 26, never gave up hope that one day his claims would be verified.

Since his youth, the brilliant art curator collected high quality pieces by lesser known artists and had a preference for looking for works of masters that were yet to be attributed to them, though not usually with great success as he was mistaken nearly all of the time. His claims included that he owned seven Vermeers and more than one Van Gogh, as well as a few Rembrant’s. Now 25 years after is death he seems to embody the famous quote of Marcel Proust…”If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”

Not a stranger to scandal the curator spent two years in jail after the war in 1945, before which during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands he was given responsibility for all the museums in the country. Although arrested and having stood trial for accusations of having aided in the illegal sale of art pieces to the Nazis that once belonged the Koenigs Collection, at that time owned by the port magnate D. G. van Beuningen, Hannema was later released and never formally convicted.

"In 1958 Hannema created an institute for his collection and was allowed to live in Nijenhuis Castle in the village of Heino on condition that he allow public access to the works, which included many fine classical and modern pieces. Some were on permanent display in two small buildings on the grounds, and he conducted tours by appointment of his home until his death in 1984," states the Associated Press in their writings of today regarding this historic occasion in the for art-lovers around the world.

The AP, further wrote, "The museum had sought once before, in 1993, to have experts authenticate Le Blute-Fin Mill to prepare for an exhibition, Schuurhuis said. But the Amsterdam experts had no time, and the painting went on display as a work that Hannema "claimed" was a Van Gogh."

The painting, whose genre is considered unusual for the impressionist, depicts large human figures in a landscape climbing both up and down wooden steps in front of an enormous wooden windmill in Monmartre, Paris. Contrasting Van Gogh’s iconic starry sky pieces in rich blues and yellows that he is so well-known for, this painting’s sky is not only starless but also cloudless and it is so pale a blue that it seems almost an ivory white, suggesting perhaps that the weather is cold, which could be further established by looking at the barren trees with sparse leaves in tones of ochre, olive green, sienna, and suede grey.

The clothing of the ladies, are a rainbow of brusque, yet defined, brush strokes ranging from a rich cranberry, red, and dusty rose, to pale yellows, sea-foam greens and a striking brownish-grey ensemble adorned with a bright red sash and big bow, and the windmill’s wooden propeller, depicted from a view of its side, almost evokes thoughts of Don Quijote de la Mancha because of the shape of its wooden propellers.

The piece, that shares Van Gogh’s style through it’s bright colors that are lavishly slathered onto the canvas, was painted in 1886 when the artist was living in Paris and bears the stamp of an art store that he was known to buy materials and pigments from, said Louis van Tilborgh, curator of research at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to the Associated Press during an interview.

Vincent Van Gogh painted almost 900 works during his short lifetime before he committed suicide at the age of 37.

Museum de Fundatie | Van Gogh | Dirk Hannema |

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