A still life painting “Still Life with Fruit and Chestnuts,” owned by the famous art gallery in San Francisco, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), was attributed by the experts of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. Even though many experts considered it a fake, the masterpiece was dated the autumn 1886.
The inscription on the back of the “Still Life with Fruit and Chestnuts” (oil on canvas) reads: “Nature mort, peint par Vincent van Gogh” (“Still Life painted by Vincent van Gogh”). California art collectors Bruno and Sadie Adriani donated the painting to the Museum in 1960. However, due to its questionable authenticity caused by shades of colors unusual for that time, it was mostly gathering dust in the storeroom. The art piece was not included in the credible catalog raisonné of Van Gogh’s works.
Now the specialists of the Van Gogh Museum confirmed that the canvas and paints coincide with those the famous post-impressionist artist used. Infrared reflectography also helped to reveal that under the “Still Life with Fruit and Chestnuts,” there is another image (presumably a female figure). It was a common practice for the ever-impoverished painter, forced to save money even on brushes and paints. Stylistically, the painting fits into a series of still lifes created by Van Gogh in Paris from October to December 1886. The studies of the Amsterdam museum traced the artwork’s provenance to the inventory of 1890 made shortly after the artist’s death. They confirmed the fact of the canvas art piece’s sale in 1899 to the Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard.
Previously, “Still Life with Fruit and Chestnuts” was exhibited only with a note of possible authorship of Van Gogh in the art exposition of the Legion of Honor, one of the two Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This Van Gogh’s still life also participated in the art show organized by Barbara Schaefer at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne in 2012. She was convinced that it was the real Van Gogh’s art piece.
The Städel Museum in Frankfurt is going to borrow the canvas painting for an exhibition of still lifes and landscapes by Van Gogh, purchased by the German art collectors of the twentieth century. Sadie Adriani was one of them. The show titled “Making Van Gogh. A German Love Story” will open in October.