The piece, titled “Sunset at Montmajour,” depicts a hilly landscape with a Benedictine abbey in the background, in Provence, in the south of France, a region Van Gogh explored at length. According to officials of the Van Gogh Museum, the piece was completed in 1888, during the same period Van Gogh painted several masterpieces, including “The Sunflowers,” “The Yellow House” and “The Bedroom.”
The piece was originally held in the family collection owned by Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, according to the Times, after which it was sold to a Paris art dealer, then, in 1908, a Norwegian collector. The piece was declared a fake soon after and consigned to the collector’s attic. The painting was eventually sold to its new owners, who first attempted to have it authenticated by the museum in 1991, without success.
“This time, we have topographical information plus a number of other factors that have helped us to establish authenticity,” Axel Rüger, director of the Van Gogh Museum, told the Times. “Research is so much more advanced now, so we could come to a very different conclusion.”
No information about the new owners, including when the sale took place, has been released.
“We always think we’ve seen everything and we know everything,” Rüger told the Times, “and now we’re able to add a significant new work to his oeuvre.”