Van Gogh self-portrait in Oslo museum confirmed authentic

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1889
Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait, 1889Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, Oslo

The "Self-Portrait" of Vincent van Gogh dated 1889 that is part of the Norwegian Nasjonalmuseet's collection is an authentic Van Gogh painting, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Nasjonalmuseet in Oslo announced on Monday after investigation. Van Gogh painted the self-portrait at the Saint-Remy asylum at the end of his first major psychotic episode in 1889. It is the only known work of his painted while he suffered from psychosis, the museums said.

The Nasjonalmuseet purchased the painting in 1910. The work's authenticity started being questioned in the 1970s - the painting's provenance was incomplete and the painting's style and use of color were not deemed typical of Van Gogh. 

In 2006, the Nasjonalmuseet carried out additional research and revealed more about the self-portrait's provenance. The painting belonged to Joseph and Marie Ginoux in Arles, friends of Van Gogh. In 2014, the Nasjonalmuseet asked the Van Gogh museum to do its own study of the portrait. 

"Based on it's style, technique, material, provenance and unusual iconography, the researchers have now concluded that the previously expressed doubts were unfounded," the Van Gogh Museum said on its website. "The self-portrait is unmistakably the work of Van Gogh and was painted by him at the end of August 1889."

The self-portrait was painted at the end of the Dutch artist's first major psychotic break, while he was admitted to the Saint-Remy asylum. According to the Dutch museum the somber palette, unusual canvas and brushwork are all similar to his other works he painted in the late summer and autumn of that year. 

"Although Van Gogh was frightened to admit at that point that he was in a similar state to his fellow residents at the asylum, he probably painted this portrait to reconcile himself with what he saw in the mirror: a person he did not wish to be, yet was’, said Louis van Tilborgh, senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum and Professor of Art History at the University of Amsterdam. "This is part of what makes the painting so remarkable and even therapeutic. It is the only work that Van Gogh is known for certain to have created while suffering from psychosis."

The Self-Portrait (1889) is currently on display at the Van Gogh Museum. It will be featured in the museum's exhibition In the Picture from February 21st, after which it will return to Oslo.