Wednesday, November 17, 2010

InSites Page for Watercolour

I've just added a new InSites page for:

- Tree Roots in a Sandy Ground ("Les Racines")

I'd welcome any other suggestions for additional InSites pages.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Two Van Gogh Paintings Rejected in Germany

This month the Von der Heydt-Museum in Wuppertal, Germany rejected two of the four Van Gogh paintings in their collection:

Still Life with Beer Mug and Fruit (F 1a, JH 82)

Vase with Flowers, Coffeepot and Fruit (F 287, JH 1231)

I always think it's commendable when a museum undertakes research on a work's authenticity and comes to the difficult conclusion that the work in their collection can no longer be considered genuine. Other museums are guilty of the opposite. Both the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco and the Albright-Knox Museum in Buffalo claim to own Van Gogh works (a painting and two drawings respectively) when these works have been categorically rejected by everyone else.

On another note, it’s always a bit of a challenge for me when a Van Gogh art work is rejected. For each rejected work, the following is required:

- Build a new record in my Van Gogh database's rejected table. Reconstruct all data from accepted works table (a field by field copy and paste because both tables are structured differently). Reconstruct rejected work's provenance records. Reconstruct rejected work's exhibition history records. Move image to rejected folder. Deleted original record from the accepted works table.

- In the website: remove image, remove webpage, change chronological listing page (and change number of total paintings at the top of the page), change thumbnail page, change painting A-Z page, change "next painting" and "previous painting" link on relevant webpages, remove work from World Map section (if applicable) and change total number of paintings on main page.

All just for one rejected painting!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Irresponsible Journalism

Irresponsible Journalism

Several news services have reported that a man has been arrested in Vermont after stealing a Van Gogh drawing from a private home in 2009. The art work is a drawn version of Van Gogh’s famous Night Café painting.

The problem with the story is that Van Gogh never produced such a drawing. It's not a genuine Van Gogh. And yet reputable news sources such as Associated Press and BBC News have reported that the drawing is attributed to Van Gogh. With absolutely no investigation into the authenticity of the work.

I've seen this happen a number of other times over the course of the last year. A couple in the U.S. claims that their precious Van Gogh drawing (a different drawing than the Night Café work) was stolen. Again, their drawing was a fake. A professor in the U.S. claims to have two Van Gogh drawings along with dozens of other valuable art works. His Van Gogh drawings are also fake. And yet more than a dozen news services reported on both of these stories claiming that the Van Gogh drawings in question were genuine.

A credible news service should do more than just take such claims as statements of fact. Ten minutes of diligent research would make a world of difference.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Random VG #2

Television show: Mission Impossible
Episode: Encore (Season 6)
Air date: 25 September 1971
Time: 00:33

In a crime witness's hospital room a print of Van Gogh's Sunflowers can be seen hanging on the wall.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thousands of hours of work . . . . . and for what?

One question I receive now and then is "What is the difference between your website, and" It’s a long story.

About thirteen or fourteen years ago my Van Gogh website was still in its infancy. I was using a small, local internet provider and, the bigger the site got and the more visitors it received, the more bandwidth I had to pay for (over my monthly limit). It reached the point where the website was costing me nearly $100 a month. This couldn't continue so I put a message on the site saying "This Van Gogh website will shut down. Can you help?" I eventually received an e-mail from an art print company called Barewalls who offered to secure a new URL for me where I could keep maintain my site for free. It sounded like a good deal (at the time).

So over the many years to follow my Van Gogh website, at the URL I came up with:, did well. Thousands of hours of work went into the site, from scanning, to helping with the complete letters, to webpage creation. It took a number of years, but eventually the site included the complete art works and letters of Van Gogh and, as a result of all my hard work, ranked #1 for "Van Gogh" on search engines.

Eventually I realized that "leasing" the URL from Barewalls probably wasn't in my best interest, given how much time and effort I had invested. I made an offer to buy the URL from them. The owner of Barewalls put me off for a full year and a half before finally refusing to even consider selling me the URL that I had helped make #1. Eventually Barewalls sold all of its assets (including to another company. Which in turn later sold it to yet another company.

So I had no choice but to secure a URL in my own name ( and move all of my content over. I kept an eye on over the course of a year or so. With all of my material removed there was almost no content and that was fine with me. Strangely retained its #1 search engine ranking even without my content, whereas my new URL,, did fairly poorly in the rankings. But such is life.

Eventually however all of my material magically rematerialized on the URL. All of the thousands of scans that took me so much time and trouble to put together—-there they were. I contacted the new owners of and told them about the situation. They told me that when they bought the assets of Barewalls the URL was included in the sale and that all of my material was as well. I assured them that this wasn't the case and even received confirmation of this from the former owner of Barewalls. Still, the new owner of wouldn't relent. In the end, they had a legal department at their disposal and I had nothing. Once again all of the material I worked so hard on was stolen and once again there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

The whole situation is hugely disappointing to me. To see everything I worked on for years vacuumed up and republished by someone else. I rarely visit because I find what happened so maddening, but I had a quick look recently and was especially mortified to see that they had posted a prominent thank you along the lines of "Thanks to all of you for making us the #1 Van Gogh site on the internet!" This was especially galling in that it was, in fact, me that made the #1 Van Gogh site on the internet. The new owners of simply benefited from the endless labours of my hard work. For which I received absolutely nothing in return.

My own Van Gogh website,, doesn't rank well on the search engines despite the fact that it's comprised of the same material that allowed me to make #1 all those years ago. I've looked at every possible solution to no avail.

In the end, I suppose it's my own fault for allowing someone else to own the URL to a site that I committed thousands of hours to. What can I say? I was young and foolish. But it's still immensely disappointing to me to see others profit from years of my hard work and I remain, not only uncredited, but absolutely powerless in remedying the situation.

So there's your answer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New Language for the Van Gogh Gallery

Over the years people have written to me and volunteered to translate blocks of my website into their language. I've always been very grateful for the opportunity to present The Van Gogh Gallery in other languages. It's been a couple of years since I launched a new language on my website, but my latest translation volunteer has been working hard and I'm pleased to announce that the Gallery's 20th language is now online.


A strange and challenging language to my eyes, but very interesting. And, as with many of my translators, I'm also enjoying the pleasure of getting to know the translator, Inanc, and to learn about the day to day life of someone who lives in Turkey.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Random VG #1

Movie: V for Vendetta
Time: 28:10

In V's Shadow Gallery the Vincent van Gogh painting The Church at Auvers can be seen in the background.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How Do People Sleep at Night?

I recently received the following e-mail:

Date: 6/29/10
Subject: Van gogh painting

H r u?

A friend of mine had a painting of Van Gogh which is not in your list but has been Authenticated by Van Gogh Museum Research Department on Dec 08, 2008 titled as "The Princess" with registration no. 1.008.928. If u are interested i can give further information about that. Pls let me know.


This, of course, sounded suspicious, but I nevertheless invited the writer to send me images which I attach to this blog posting.

Over more than 15 years on working on my Van Gogh Gallery website I've received a number of e-mails like this. But this one was especially striking in terms of its stupidity (it's obviously not a Van Gogh--more likely a copy of a painting by Ingres). And the clumsiness of the certificate of "authenticity" boggles the mind.

The writer, of course, wanted help in selling this treasure. I sent him packing. What sort of people do this kind of thing? Nigerian e-mail spammers, dishonest roofers that tell the frail old lady that her (perfectly sound) roof is in immediate need of repair . . . . or people trying to sell flea market garbage as genuine art works.

Anyone with an ounce of common sense would never be taken in by such amateurish deception. All the same, I think it's a good idea that people were made aware of these sorts of deceitful tactics.

Caveat emptor!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Vincent van Gogh meets Doctor Who

In June 2010 the BBC aired an episode of the science fiction series Doctor Who entitled "Vincent and the Doctor." In it the time traveler and his companion travel back to France and meet Vincent van Gogh.

As a long time Doctor Who and Van Gogh aficionado I was very much looking forward to this episode. Normally I wait until Doctor Who comes out on DVD before I watch it. Mainly because the CBC, which airs Doctor Who in Canada, is forever cutting the show up, moving it, postponing it, etc. I couldn't stand it anymore. When I saw that the Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who was airing here in Canada I decided to make an exception and watch that one single episode before the DVD set comes out.

So the whole thing was a bit jarring for me because suddenly I was faced with a new Doctor (Matt Smith), a new companion (Karen Gillan), a new credits sequence and a new TARDIS. A lot to take in. But never mind.

As for the episode, overall I was disappointed. I'm definitely not a stickler for historical accuracy, but the errors were unnecessary and easily fixed. The Van Gogh specialist at the Musée d’Orsay (played by the always enjoyable Bill Nighy) says that Van Gogh died in 1891. He died in 1890. Most of the episode takes place in an unnamed French town which is both Arles (1888) and Auvers-sur-Oise (1890). I realize that the episode writer Richard Curtis (of Blackadder fame) included the Auvers setting because he wanted to use the church as a plot device (and that church was painted in 1890). But he easily could have set the whole thing in Arles and altered the story accordingly (was the plot really so dependent on a painted smear of a monster peeking out from the church's window?).

Which gets to the story. There's plenty of material to deal with when a 900 year old alien time lord travels to the 1800s to meet Vincent van Gogh. But much of this potential was untapped. I appreciate that this is a science fiction program (that has seen Agatha Christie in the same room as a giant wasp and both Shakespeare and Dickens confronting alien witches/zombies). But the best they could come up with is Vincent van Gogh battling a giant invisible chicken?

"Vincent and the Doctor" did have some strong points, however. The actor playing Van Gogh, Tony Curran, did a good job, even if his Scottish accent was a bit too Groundskeeper Willyesque. There's a strong physical resemblance and Curran's handling of Van Gogh's manic moments was well done. The set designers also did a very nice job in reproducing the Café Terrace and Van Gogh’s bedroom (if only they’d spent a few more pounds and digitally recreated the Yellow House, rather than having Van Gogh living in a sort of barn). And the ending, back in Paris in 2010 is touching and well understated.

With a few story tweaks here and there this episode of Doctor Who could have been outstanding. All in all it was adequate. And, of course, to see Vincent van Gogh standing in the console room of the TARDIS . . . . . well, that alone was worth it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

New Blog!

The Vincent van Gogh Gallery has been online for nearly fifteen years now. Recently I decided that adding a blog would be a good idea.

I'm pleased with the Van Gogh Gallery website, but I thought that it would benefit from some content that was a bit more subjective and informal. So a blog seemed to be just the thing.

Here I'll be posting my thoughts on Van Gogh and his works, on Van Gogh in popular culture, books and films, etc., etc. Really just a mixed bag of thoughts, gripes, musings and reflections.

I welcome any comments or suggestions for future postings.