17.11.2016 Discussion on the Authentification of 1 of 65 Vincent Van Gogh Drawings

On Thursday 17 November 2016 was published by Seuil a book  called “Le Brouillard d’Arles”, edited by Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov.

At the same moment, the Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum released a negative statement on the authentification.

Without any doubt, this scientific discussion is, whatever will be the conclusion, an inspiration for scholarship.

We compare one point which could become pieces of disproving/supporting evidence :

The Pont Langlois, (first drawing, Pont-X).

The Amsterdam Museum proposes an argument : “The house is on the wrong side of the canal”.


The actual Pont Van Gogh bridge in Arles, (Point Kilometrique 2.470 on the “Arles to Bouc” Canal) is a reconstitution, the historic Pont de Langlois was in another location (Road D35 crossing, Point Kilometrique 0.520 on the “Arles to Bouc” Canal, destroyed in 1930, rebuilt in cement, le pont de Réginel , itself bombed down by German troops in August 1944).


Pont Réginel succeeded Pont de Langlois, Arles, 1932.


Pont Van Gogh in Arles today, is only a wishful reconstitution with confusing elements.



The Langlois bridge correspond with D35 sign, we note the presence of another bridge southeast of it. You can look at it either from the North (top of map, Arles side) or from the South (bottom of map, Barriol side).

There were some factories in the Barriol suburb (west zone, including recently built naval industry, founded 1882).


Hypothesis and method : all Vincent Van Gogh drawings and paintings represent the same bridge, the Langlois bridge, and we can compare five elements :

— A Group of Women washing
— Two Cypresses
— A Group of Different Trees
— the House of the Bridge Keeper
— A Group of Factories


Mrs Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov lists EIGHT Vincent Van Gogh representations of the Langlois bridge :

— ONE  sketch in ink, within a letter to Émile Bernard (PONT-I)
— TWO drawings (Pont-II, Pont-III)
— ONE watercolour (PONT-IV)
— FOUR oil on canvas paintings (Pont-V, Pont-VI, Pont-VII, Pont-VIII)



Langlois Bridge, “… aussi beau que le Japon” … Letter to Bernard, 15 March 1888 (Pont-I). The Sun should be in the southwest quadrant, close to the west, as the letter is sent just before the March equinox. The Bridge keeper house is located on the East bank and the factories in the Barriol suburb. The position of the Sun is puzzling.


Drawbridge with Lady with Parasol, Pen and ink drawing in the Los Angeles County Museum (Pont-II). The two cypresses are opposite to the bridge-keeper house, so probably on the East bank. View from the North.


Langlois Bridge, Arles, pen and inkdrawing, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart(Pont-III). The presence of the Cypresses indicates, the couple is leaving Arles bank for Barriol suburb.


The Langlois Bridge from North at Arles with Women Washing, Watercolor, Private collection (Pont-IV). From the South.


The Langlois Bridge at Arles from North, with Women Washing, Oil on Canvas, Kröller-Müller Museum (Pont-V). From the South.


The Langlois Bridge at Arles with Women Washing, Variant, Oil on Canvas, Private collection (Pont-VI). From the South.


Langlois Bridge at Arles, and Woman with an Umbrella, Oil on Canvas, Wallraf-Richartz Museum (Pont-VII). From the North.


The Langlois Bridge from North with Road Alongside the Canal, Oil on Canvas, Van Gogh Museum (Pont-VIII). Another bridge on the left. View from the North.


One solution to place the five proposed elements :

— A Group of Women washing
— Two Cypresses
— A Group of Different Trees
— the House of the Bridge Keeper
— A Group of Factories


In the “Brouillard” drawing (Pont-X), the presence of the women washing and the trees indicates a view from the South, and the cypresses and the house more a view from the North.

This discussion only starts, and the starting hypothesis that all drawings show the same bridge is a strong one, all comments are welcome.

Epilog :


De Speld, a drawing by Dirk-Jan Hoek. «Deux Chevaux à Arles : un nouveau dessin de Van Gogh fait surface. Les experts unanimes sur son authenticité. C’est sans aucun doute l’œuvre d’un maître.»

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