Monday, May 19, 2008

Claims of a Third Gachet

The Guardian reports today that Doreta Peppa, the same Greek woman who some months ago claimed to have an original van Gogh sketchbook now claims to have a van Gogh painting of Dr. Gachet, which, if authentic as she says, would be the third portrait Vincent made of the doctor. Greek art experts agree with Peppa that the canvas is an original van Gogh, while other experts in Britain and America are dubious. The Van Gogh Museum curators refuse to comment about the painting at present, according to the Guardian article, although they have discredited the sketchbook in her possession since that story was first reported in January.

I was trying to remember where I'd heard Peppa's name before, and when I watched a Youtube video about the alleged Gachet portrait, I realized where: she is the 'priestess' of a group of polytheists in Greece who are dueling with the Ministry of Culture to perform rituals at ancient sites. I remember reading about the group's protest at the Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens a while ago, and footage appears in the Youtube piece. Apparently Peppa plans to use part of the proceeds from selling the Gachet (if she sells it) to help her group.

The alleged van Gogh painting appears in the Youtube video as well. Readers can make up their own mind, but I find things about the picture odd, even from just looking at a video. Gachet wears no hat here (he does in the Orsay and private collection versions). And while brushstrokes are difficult to evaluate in an online video, they don't look much like the other two Gachets; neither does the shape of the face. The van Gogh letters say nothing about a third portrait (and actually they say nothing about a second portrait, which has led a minority of scholars to wonder whether the Orsay version was painted by Gachet himself). And why didn't Peppa say she had this painting when she revealed the existence of the sketchbook? It's enough to raise eyebrows. It'll be interesting to see whether the VGM ever weighs in.

2 comments:

Margaret said...

Interesting! I'm with you--even without really knowing anything about Van Gogh, it seems a bit odd that she wouldn't have revealed the existence of the painting when she unveiled the notebook.

About the Hotel Du College: I love that place. This is the second time that my Mom and I have stayed there, and it's a great place. The prices are pretty reasonable for the Latin Quarter. But it's pretty popular--it was completely full every day that we were there! (We didn't book very far in advance, so we actually had to go to another hotel in the 17th for a couple of days--it was horrid!).
~Margaret

Sheramy said...

Hi Margaret--Yeah...it's a bit dodgy, this story. I'm not the only one who thinks so, clearly!

Good to know re: Hotel du College. I've stayed at the Hotel St Jacques around the corner on my past two trips, but since it's popular too, I like knowing about a good backup for next trip. That's my favorite part of the Latin Quarter to stay because it's close to everything but it's not overly touristy. (Unlike the northern end near the river!)