‘Self-portrait’ actually van Gogh’s brother

A noted 1887 work by Vincent van Gogh long thought to have been a self-portrait of the famed Dutch painter is in fact a picture of his younger brother Theo, according to art researchers at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.

“According to current opinion, Vincent van Gogh never painted his brother Theo, on whom he was dependent,” the Van Gogh Museum said in a statement.

But senior researcher Louis van Tilborgh now believed the painting of a man wearing a light-colored hat and a dark blue jacket (above) was actually Van Gogh’s brother Theo, Vincent’s junior by five years, according to new service Agence France-Presse.

“The conclusion is based on a number of obvious differences between the two brothers,” said the museum, pointing out dissimilar features including the neatness of the subject’s beard and his round-shaped ear, “something Vincent did not have.”

“The form and color of Theo’s beard, more ochre than red, is also an indication” as well as the man’s “eye-color and the style in which he was dressed supports the new insight,” the museum said.

“The portrait matches pictures of Theo,” Van Tilborgh told the Dutch news agency ANP.

Theo was a successful art dealer and his financial support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting.

Theo apparently admired his brother greatly and was often concerned about Vincent’s mental condition. He was said to have been one of the few people who understood his brother, according to Wikipedia.

Theo’s health deteriorated in the months after Vincent shot himself in July 1890 at age 37. Theo was admitted to a hospital and died six months later in died January 1891.

Theo’s body was exhumed in 1914 and re-buried with his brother at Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris.

The new investigation’s results are published in a 600-page catalogue, put together by Van Tilborgh and three other researchers at the museum, which houses the largest collection of Van Gogh’s paintings and letters, according to Agence France-Presse.


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