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Van Gogh Painting Deemed Authentic: 'a Cry of Anguish'

1889 self-portrait said to be only piece the Dutch artist created while suffering from psychosis
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2020 8:03 AM CST

(Newser) – Vincent Van Gogh was never known for sure to have painted any pieces when he suffered from psychosis—until now. On Monday, art experts declared that a dour self-portrait hanging in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, a painting that's been the subject of much speculation for 50 years, is indeed a real Van Gogh, the BBC reports. The painting, labeled "Self-Portrait as a Sick Person," was said to have been created by the artist in 1889 while he was in an asylum in St.-Remy, France. "The ... self-portrait depicts someone who is mentally ill," the museum said, per the Guardian. "His timid, sideways glance is easily recognizable and is often found in patients suffering from depression and psychosis." Norway's National Museum, which owns the painting, had it analyzed after decades of doubters who said it used more muted colors than other Van Gogh paintings from the same period.

The AP adds a palette knife was also used to flatten out brushstrokes on Van Gogh's face, a technique he didn't usually use on subjects' faces. The National Museum, which purchased the painting in 1910 in Paris from a collector, asked the Van Gogh Museum in 2014 to have it analyzed. Experts used X-rays and brushwork analysis to examine the piece, and pored over apparent references to the painting in letters to his brother Theo; in one note, Van Gogh calls it an "attempt from when I was ill." "This is a cry of anguish," a Van Gogh Museum researcher says, per the Guardian. One person who was creeped out by the painting: Edvard Munch, who created The Scream. "He ... found it scary, because of the gaze from the self-portrait staring back at him," a National Museum rep tells the AP. The painting will head back to Oslo when its new National Museum opens next year. (Read more Vincent Van Gogh stories.)

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