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Culture

The secrets of “Tree Roots”, the Van Gogh that preceded his death

Amsterdam / The canvas “Tree roots”, drawn 130 years ago by the Dutch master Vincent van Gogh just a few hours after his death, represents a hill in the French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, an unprecedented discovery announced on Tuesday, the anniversary of his death.

The painting reflects the trunk and roots of several large trees that protrude from the slope of a hill, next to which a stone path passes, the Daubigny street, which crosses Auvers-sur-Oise -where the artist spent the last seventies days of his life-, and passes a few meters from the street that his neighbors baptized as Rue Van Gogh, in memory of the Dutch painter.

The experts and lovers of the artist had been speculating for 130 years about the place where Van Gogh had painted that canvas, the last painting of his great legacy, and it was Wouter van der Veen, scientific director of the French foundation Institut Van Gogh, who found this discovery, essential to know the last hours of the painter’s life.

Van der Veen had a black-and-white postcard, dated between 1900-1910, scanned on his computer, showing a stranger from behind holding a bicycle with his right hand, in front of a hill with several trees protruding, an image that reminded him of one of Van Gogh’s paintings he had already seen in Amsterdam.

Although the landscape on the postcard is from a couple of decades after the canvas, it can be clearly seen that both represent the same hill configuration, symbolizing the life and death of Van Gogh, according to Louis van Tilborgh, veteran researcher at the Van Gogh Museum in the Dutch capital.

Verification of theory

When the mobility restrictions imposed in France to curb the spread of the coronavirus were lifted last May, this expert traveled to the small French town to verify his theory on “Tree roots”, the picture that Van Gogh drew on July 27, 1890, and it never ended, when he died hours later from a gunshot wound.

“Each element of this mysterious painting can be explained by looking at the postcard and the location: the shape of the hillside, the roots, their relationship to each other, the composition of the earth and the presence of a steep side of limestone”, analyzes the author of the discovery, presented this Tuesday to the press.

The place is 150 meters from Auberge Ravoux, the inn in Auvers-sur-Oise where Van Gogh stayed the last 70 days of his life and, to his surprise, the trunk of the largest tree that appears in the painting is still present and it is totally recognizable when compared to the canvas.

The drawn landscape “also coincides with Van Gogh’s habit of painting places in his immediate surroundings”, while the sunlight reflected in the painting indicates that he painted the last brush strokes during the last hours of sunset, which adds even more information about that dramatic day for the artist, in which he is believed to have shot himself.

Van der Veen immediately passed this information on to researchers at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, owner of the collection containing “Tree Roots,” and they consulted a dendrologist specializing in historical vegetation to all together do a comparative study of the painting, the postcard and the current state of the hillside.

The experts concluded that it is “highly feasible” that this is the correct location that successive researchers have been searching for over a century.

“A remarkable discovery”

“It is a remarkable discovery. That this is his latest work of art makes it even more exceptional and even dramatic. Van Gogh had already documented this area in other paintings. He often had to pass through this place to go to the fields behind Auvers Castle, where he painted several times during the last week of his life, ”said Teio Meedendorp, the museum’s principal investigator.

Van der Veen also located a radio interview from 1953, in which Adeline Ravoux, the innkeeper’s daughter, told how, while still a 13-year-old girl, she had served food to the Dutch artist, resulting in one of her most famous portraits, an oil on canvas from 1890. “The painting really surprised me,” she said.

Ignored for so many years by Auvers’ neighbors, the hill now becomes a place of pilgrimage for Van Gogh lovers, after local authorities have erected a protective wooden structure to protect the site.

Starting today, visitors to this small French town will be able to add to the tour a stop in front of the exact spot where Van Gogh held a brush and took inspiration from a canvas for the last time, leaving a legacy that the world continues to discover 130 years later. of his death. (July 30, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)

(Automatic translation)

The related video news (June 2019):


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Question 1
Principalmente el texto habla...  
A
de una postal que se asemeja bastante a un cuadro que fue pintado por Van Gogh.
B
del 130 aniversario de la muerte de un conocido pintor holandés.
C
de un lienzo que fue pintado por Van Gogh horas antes de que falleciera.
Question 2
Sobre "Raíces de árbol" se dice que...  
A
no aparece ningún paisaje en este lienzo.
B
aparece una colina que está situada en un pueblo francés.
C
Van Gogh lo pintó inspirándose en una postal.
Question 3
En el texto se dice que...    
A
los expertos descartan por completo que Van Gogh haya pintado ese cuadro en  Auvers-sur-Oise.
B
durante mucho tiempo los expertos no ha sabido dónde Van Gogh pintó "Raíces de árbol".
C
este cuadro de Van Gogh se ha descubierto justo el día en que se cumplió el 130 aniversario de su muerte.
Question 4
Según el texto...  
A
Van der Veen desmiente que Van Gogh soliera pintar los lugares de su entorno más cercano.
B
Van der Veen aún no ha podido viajar a Francia para verificar su teoría.
C
Van der Veen descubrió dónde fue pintado ese cuadro por la pista que le dio una antigua postal.
Question 5
Van der Veen entrevistó a la hija de un posadero para verificar su teoría.    
A
Así es.
B
En absoluto.
C
¡Imposible saberlo!
Question 6
En el vídeo se dice que...  
A
no hay ningún cuadro de naturaleza muerta en esa muestra.
B
Van Gogh solía pintar girasoles de forma recurrente.
C
se desmiente que el estado conservación de "Los girasoles" sea frágil.
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