Postcard helps find location of Van Gogh's 'final masterpiece'
French hillside scene in 'Tree Roots' may have been painted just hours before artist’s death.
An early 20th century postcard has helped locate the probable spot where Vincent van Gogh painted what may have been his final masterpiece, art experts say.
According to a report in the BBC, the location of Van Gogh's final work 'Tree Roots' was found by Wouter van der Veen, the scientific director of the Institut Van Gogh.
Van der Veen came to the inference after noticing similarities between the painting and and a postcard dating from 1900 to 1910.
He had the revelation at his home in Strasbourg, France, during lockdown and said that “the similarities were very clear.”
According to Van der Veen, Van Gogh painted 'Tree Roots' at an inn in a village 150 metres from the Auberge Ravoux. At this site Van Gogh stayed for 70 days before taking his own life in 1890.
Van der Veen presented his findings to Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, whose researchers conducted a comparative study of the painting, postcard and the French hillside. And according to the experts it is highly plausible that the correct location has been identified.
“In our opinion, the location identified by Van der Veen is highly likely to be the correct one and it is a remarkable discovery. On closer observation, the overgrowth on the postcard shows very clear similarities to the shape of the roots on Van Gogh’s painting. That this is his last artwork renders it all the more exceptional, and even dramatic,” Teio Meedendorp, senior researcher at the museum, said.
A ceremony was held in Auvers-sur-Oise, a few miles north of Paris, on Tuesday to mark the discovery of the apparent location. In the presence of Emilie Gordenker, the general director of the Van Gogh Museum, and Willem van Gogh, the great-grandson of Vincent's brother Theo, a commemorative plaque was also unveiled at the site.
To verifiy his theory, Van der Veen visited the site in May 2020, once coronavirus restrictions had been lifted in France. Apart from the location of 'Tree Roots', Van der Veen also believes that Van Gogh may have been working on this painting just hours before his death.
"The sunlight painted by Van Gogh indicates that the last brush strokes were painted towards the end of the afternoon, which provides more information about the course of this dramatic day ending in his suicide," he told the BBC.