The painting, which is not considered to have been completed by Van Gogh, hangs in the Amsterdam museum. Gordenker said its composition and execution — a tight focus on gnarled roots on a hillside — have led to it being seen as a “harbinger of abstraction.”
Van Gogh never got to further develop the painting style.
According to the museum’s version of Van Gogh’s life, after working on “Tree Roots” the artist walked into a nearby field of wheat later in the day and shot himself in the chest with a pistol. He died two days later, on July 29, 1890, aged 37. Two American authors cast doubt on the theory in 2011, suggesting the artist was shot by two teenage boys.
Van der Veen believes the museum’s version of events and agrees his new discovery shows that Van Gogh had his wits about him and was methodical in his thinking before he pulled the trigger to kill himself.
“So the final steps were also something he carefully thought about,” he said. “So it was a lucid decision. It…