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The place where Van Gogh painted his last masterpiece has been discovered

The place where Van Gogh painted his last masterpiece has been discovered

The place where Van Gogh painted his last masterpiece has been discovered

On Tuesday 28 July, a ceremony was held in Auvers-sur-Oise to celebrate the place where Vincent van Gogh painted his last masterpiece, Tree Roots. The painting was created 130 years ago, shortly before the artist's suicide. Willem van Gogh, the great-grandson of Theo, Vincent's brother, came to the opening of the memorial sign.

The exact location where Vincent van Gogh wrote his last work, "The Roots of Trees," was determined by Voter van der Veen, scientific director of the Van Gogh Institute in Auvers-sur-Oise. He found a postcard from 1900-1910 showing the trunks and roots of trees growing on a hillside. The scientist documented his discovery in the book "Attacked at the Roots", written specifically for the occasion.

“Every element of this mysterious picture can be explained by looking at the postcard and the location itself: the shape of the hill, the roots, their relationship to each other, the composition of the earth and the presence of a steep limestone slope,” says Voter van der Veen.

The location, he said, also fits with Van Gogh's habit of portraying what he saw around him. The sunlight transmitted by the artist indicates that the last brush strokes were applied to the canvas in the late afternoon. This gives more insight into the dramatic day that Van Gogh shot himself in the chest.

Teyo Miedendorp, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum, says the site has been identified “with a high probability of being correct,” and this is a remarkable discovery. “On closer inspection, the vegetation on the postcard is shaped very much like the roots in the Van Gogh painting. The fact that this is the last painting of the artist makes it even more exceptional and even dramatic, ”says the expert.

The area has already been documented in other works by Van Gogh. The artist must have often passed by this place when he walked into the fields behind Auvers Castle. He painted views there several times during the last week of his life and committed suicide there.

In May 2020, when quarantine restrictions were lifted in France, Voter van der Veen was able to go to the place and personally test his theory. This happened a few months after the initial discovery. The trees are located 150 meters from the Auberge Ravoux, a hotel in Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh spent his last 70 days. It is surprising that the trunk of the largest tree from the artist's last painting is still preserved and is still recognizable.

The Van Gogh Institute and local authorities installed a protective wooden structure to preserve the site and point it out to the public. Now, those who visit Auvers to follow in Van Gogh's footsteps will add another memorable point to their travel map. They will be able to stand exactly where the artist's brush last touched the canvas.

Based on materials from the official website of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

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