The work, titled Self-Portrait (1889), has been in the collection of the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo since 1910, and it depicts the artist’s face rendered in subdued yellows, greens, and blues. Van Gogh admitted himself to an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, a few months before the piece was made.
The Guardian reports that van Gogh may have referenced the painting in a letter to his brother that mentions a self-portrait “attempt from when I was ill.”
“His timid, sideways glance is easily recognizable and is often found in patients suffering from depression and psychosis,” the Van Gogh Museum told the Guardian.
The Van Gogh Museum began its assessment of Self-Portrait in 2014, and the work is now definitively the first van Gogh work to have entered a public collection.
Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum and professor of art history at the University of Amsterdam, told the Guardian that Self-Portrait is the only known work completed by van Gogh during while suffering from psychosis.
“He probably painted this portrait to reconcile himself with what he saw in the mirror: a person he did not wish to be, yet was,” he said. “This is part of what makes the painting so remarkable and even therapeutic.”
The authentication of Self-Portrait follows other recent van Gogh-related headlines, including news that one of his most famous works, Sunflowers, will be shown at three international venues this year.