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(Credit: Google Cultural Institute)

Art

A pencil drawing of an old man has been identified as a Van Gogh work

@TomTaylorFO

A haunting pencil drawing of an old man in anguish has been identified as a previously unregistered work of the late Vincent Van Gogh. 

The legendary artist has cast such an illuminating glow on all the art that has followed in his wake that any new work represents a huge moment in his legacy. Thus, on Thursday afternoon, The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam was delighted to be able to identify the work as officially from his hand.

They described the work as a spectacular discovery that helps to shed more light on his early days as an artist while living and working in The Hague and struggling to make a name for himself. While his days in Paris and elsewhere are relatively well documented, The Hague period is obfuscated, even by Van Gogh’s shrouded terms

Seeing as though the piece is remarkably similar to an existing pencil drawing titled ‘Worn Out’ the museum have decided to name the accompanying subject ‘Study for Worn Out’.

It is believed that the image comes from late 1882 which would put Van Gogh at around 29-years-old at the time he put pencil to paper. This was a period when he was pioneering his almost voyeuristic style of capturing subjects.

Using a bold carpenters pencil he would render the “orphan men and women” of the Dutch Reform House for 10 cents and a cup of coffee, and his etchings reflected his desire of almost wanting to step away from the canvas to give them privacy. 

Helping to date this piece which has been in private ownership until recently, was the following excerpt from a letter he sent his brother Theo: “Today and yesterday I drew two figures of an old man with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands … Perhaps I’ll do a lithograph of it. What a fine sight an old working man makes, in his patched bombazine suit with his bald head.”

On average, the museum receiving around 300 inquiries for authentication each year, but it is very much a rarity that any can be proven to be Van Gogh’s. As they announced publicly: “I’ve worked with Van Gogh for a substantial part of my life, especially the drawings, and it is always a delight to have them in your hand and looking at them up close.”

Adding: “These drawings from The Hague are absolutely delightful to look at; you can follow working process of Vincent so well … the way he handles the pencil. Whenever you have a closeup look at drawings like this you want to pick up a pencil yourself and start drawing.”

You can view the piece, below.

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