Impersonal style

Helene Kröller-Müller purchases this unsigned still life in 1912 from the French art collector Amédée Schuffenecker. It is sold as a work by Van Gogh from his early days in Paris. In the 1980s, connoisseurs begin to doubt its authenticity. This doubt is mainly prompted by the impersonal style of the work.

Artificially accelerated

The rather messy colours do not match Van Gogh’s Parisian preference for bright colours applied side by side. The brushstrokes are of varying quality, with chaotic diagonal strokes at the top left and far more systematic parallel horizontal strokes at the top right. Moreover, the dark green background contains a dense craquelure, which may indicate an artificially accelerated aging process.


When Helene Kröller-Müller acquires the still life, she has little insight into Van Gogh’s oeuvre or painterly qualities. It is impossible to ascertain whether Schuffenecker, who is suspected of fraudulent practices, deliberately sold her a second-rate still life. But given Helene’s appetite for acquisition and the high prices she pays, some suspicion is warranted here.