Van Gogh or not Van Gogh: When Marketing Trumps Peer Review Standards

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov had barely launched the multi-national publication of “Vincent Van Gogh: The Lost Arles Sketchbook” at the Paris offices of the French publisher Seuil yesterday when the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam issued a statement casting doubt on the authenticity of the 65 drawings sketched in an accounting book from the Cafe de la Gare in Arles, where the painter spent two years towards the end of his life and created some of his most enduring work, including his breathtaking Provencal landscapes. “In our opinion, it’s not authentic,” Louis van Tilborgh, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum, told the New York Times. “Owners of the sketchbook have asked our opinion in 2007 and 2012 again, and we studied the iconography, style and technique, and studied the provenance, and we came to the conclusion that it’s not by him. We have not changed our opinion.”

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