Art Historian Finds Evidence Placing Van Gogh’s Bed in Dutch Town

A letter by Van Gogh's nephew claims the bed survived and was moved from Arles.

Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom (1889). Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago.
Vincent van Gogh, The Bedroom (1889). Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, 1926.

Vincent van Gogh fans rejoice: a British art historian is claiming that the famous bed depicted in the artist’s masterpiece The Bedroom may still be intact, languishing in an attic in a small town in the Netherlands.

The Bedroom shows Van Gogh’s room, and the bed that he slept in while living in Arles in the south of France, where the Dutch artist moved to in 1888.

Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey has found a letter written by the artist’s nephew, Vincent Willem, in 1937, in which Willem claims the bed that appears in the painting is in his possession.

“This was a key letter that showed that the bed had survived and had been taken to the Netherlands,” Bailey told Dutch public broadcaster NOS, as reported by AFP. “This was a real surprise for me. That was not known to Van Gogh scholars.”

After making this discovery, Baily embarked on an investigation to try and locate this priceless piece of art history. Bailey contacted Willem’s son, Johan Van Gogh, now 94, who amazingly remembered the bed.

Johan said the bed had stayed at his father’s house in Laren, North Holland, until 1945, when it was sent to Boxmeer in Southern Holland as a donation to help people who had lost their possessions in the Second World War.

“That was the last bit of the puzzle. There is no question that the bed ended up in Boxmeer,” Bailey explained to AFP.  “Of course, the intriguing question is: where is it now?”

What happened to the bed once it arrived in Boxmeer is a mystery, it may be in someone’s home, may have been re-purposed as another piece of furniture, or is perhaps lying forgotten in a garage or attic. Without staging a house-to-house search there is no way of knowing, unless another intriguing episode of the story emerges.

“We’ll closely follow the investigations,” the Van Gogh Museum told Dutch broadcaster NOS, according to the Independent.

Van Gogh painted three versions of The Bedroom: the first in 1888, which is now on view at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; and to further versions in 1889, one of which hangs in the Art Institute Chicago and another in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.


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