THE HAGUE – A bed first made famous by Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 painting “The Bedroom” may today still be lurking in a home or attic in a small Dutch town, an art historian claimed Sunday.
British-based van Gogh expert Martin Bailey said the bed on which van Gogh slept while living in the scenic southern French city of Arles may have ended up in a home in Boxmeer in the Netherlands after World War II.
Bailey based his belief on his discovery of a letter written in 1937 by van Gogh’s cousin, Vincent Willem, in which he said he still possessed the bed of his famous uncle, who committed suicide in 1890.
“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.
“This was a real surprise for me. That was (also) not known to van Gogh scholars,” said Bailey, who started off on an intriguing search to trace historic pieces of furniture.
Bailey contacted Johan van Gogh, the elderly son of van Gogh’s cousin “and he actually, to my astonishment, remembered the bed.”
Johan, 94, said the bed stood in his father’s house in Laren until 1945, when it was sent to Boxmeer, around 120 km (75 miles) to the south, as part of a donation to help Dutch who lost their possessions during the war.
Aided by a colleague, Bailey then found a picture of the actual truck used to cart the donated furniture from Laren to Boxmeer.
“That was the last bit of the puzzle. There is no question that the bed ended up in Boxmeer,” Bailey said.
“Of course, the intriguing question is: where is it now?” he said, admitting the bed may have inadvertently been thrown away over the years.
Van Gogh painted three versions of “The Bedroom.”
The 1888 version hangs in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, while two later versions painted in 1889, are on display at the Art Institute of Chicago and Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.
The Van Gogh Museum, in response to Bailey’s claims, told the NOS on Sunday it “would be interesting if the bed is actually found.”
“We’ll closely follow the investigations,” the museum said.