At one point, the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, was the owner of just one painting definitively attributed to Vincent van Gogh. As it turns out, the museum actually has two canvases by the Dutch master in its possession.
After more than a year of analysis and research, the museum has authenticated the painting Vase with Poppies (ca. 1886) as a true van Gogh. To confirm that the work was indeed by the painter, the Wadsworth Atheneum worked with specialists at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
“It’s a tremendous story,” Thomas Loughman, director and CEO of the Wadsworth, told ARTnews. “It’s a reminder of the patience we have to have to get to good judgments and discernments, and I’m so proud of the institution’s confidence in itself that it didn’t overreact when [the painting was] called into question.”
Vase with Poppies has been dated to 1886, around the time that van Gogh arrived in Paris. In order to authenticate Vase with Poppies, researchers at the Van Gogh Museum mapped the painting’s linen supports, performed a thread count of the canvas, and tested paint samples. Photographic documentation also revealed that the painting was exhibited at the inaugural Armory Show in New York in 1913. The museum had received the painting through a bequest, which also included works by Renoir, Monet, and Redon, from the collector and writer Anne Parrish Titzell in 1957.
The painting, which had temporarily resided in Amsterdam while it was being analyzed, will return to the Wadsworth Atheneum on April 26 in conjunction with the opening of its 38th Annual Fine Art and Flowers program.
Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum and a professor of art history at the University of Amsterdam, said in a statement that almost 50 years after the publication of the first van Gogh catalogue raisonné, which was authored by Jacob-Baart de la Faille, “one can say that slowly but surely, real progress is being made in van Gogh studies. Some of these floaters even turned out to be firmly anchored in van Gogh’s oeuvre, and Vase with Poppies, I am happy to say, is one of them.”