In 1920, this painting surfaces as a ‘Van Gogh’ at the auction of the collection assembled by collector Lodewijk Cornelis Enthoven. After it ends up at the museum, however, doubts arise. It is a very tonal work, with only the red and white accents of the carnations against an ochre background. There are no other examples of this in Van Gogh’s oeuvre.

Relined canvas

Moreover, the canvas has been relined: a smaller canvas is adhered to a larger one and sewn with a few stitches. Parts of the background and the brightest red of the carnations have been painted over and repainted, also over the edge of the relining. It seems that the intervention served to enlarge an already painted work. That method would be exceptional for Van Gogh.

Erroneous attribution

The vase is painted clumsily, but the flowers are depicted accurately and in detail. The work is now registered as ‘anonymous’. This is probably a case of an erroneous attribution, which dates from the Enthoven auction at the latest. It is not known whether the collector himself believed it was a Van Gogh, but that is the assumption.