Two scholars said this Tuesday (November 15th) that they believe that an recently discovered sketchbook containing 65 drawings is an authentic work by Vincent van Gogh, and was created by that Post-Impressionist in Arles, France, where he made many of his famous and beloved paintings.

The two scholars who attribute the work to van Gogh are highly respected van Gogh scholars; Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov is a University of Toronto professor emeritus of art history who has curated exhibitions on van Gogh at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and other museums, and has written book about van Gogh. In fact, we have one of her books in the Bixler library collection! Ronald Pickvance has also written books on the artist and organized two van Gogh exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

However, The New York Times reports that “experts at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which owns the largest collection of van Gogh artworks, immediately said that they disagreed with the scholars and that they view the drawings as most likely imitations by another artist.

“In our opinion, it’s not authentic,” said Louis van Tilborgh, a senior researcher at the Van Gogh Museum. “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.”

Mr. van Tilborgh said, for example, that the drawings were made with brown ink, while van Gogh always worked with black or purple ink.”

To see more of van Gogh’s works and figure out which side of the debate you agree with, look at  Bixler Library’s collection containing van Gogh’s works. Sjraar van Heugten’s  Van Gogh Drawings: Influences and Innovations  includes images of sketchbooks formally attributed to van Gogh.  Compare those images to the attached image from the new sketchbook and see if you agree with the two scholars or with the Van Gogh museum!