Behold the Newly-Discovered Sketch by Vincent van Gogh Sketch, “Study for Worn Out” (1882)

Hav­ing been dead for more than 130 years now, Vin­cent van Gogh sel­dom comes up with a new piece of work. But when he does, you can be sure it will draw the art world’s atten­tion as few works by liv­ing artists could. Such has been the case with the new­ly dis­cov­ered Study for Worn Out, an 1882 sketch that recent­ly came into pos­ses­sion of the Van Gogh Muse­um, accord­ing to Margheri­ta Cole at My Mod­ern Met, “when a Dutch fam­i­ly request­ed that spe­cial­ists take a look at their unsigned draw­ing.” The fig­ure in the draw­ing strong­ly resem­bles the one in van Gogh’s 1890 paint­ing At Eter­ni­ty’s Gate. But it took the experts at the muse­um to deter­mine that the artist was none oth­er than van Gogh him­self.

“Today and yes­ter­day I drew two fig­ures of an old man with his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands,” wrote the 29-year-old van Gogh to his broth­er in a let­ter from 1882. “What a fine sight an old work­ing man makes, in his patched bom­bazine suit with his bald head.” The imme­di­ate fruit of these labors was the pen­cil draw­ing Worn Out, for which “the artist employed one of his favorite mod­els, an elder­ly man named Adri­anus Jacobus Zuy­der­land who boast­ed dis­tinc­tive side­burns (and who appears in at least 40 of van Gogh’s sketch­es from this peri­od).” So writes’s Nora McGreevy, who adds that van Gogh revis­it­ed the work to adapt it as a paint­ing “just two months before his death” in an asy­lum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

“In draw­ings like these,”  says the Van Gogh Muse­um, “the artist not only dis­played his sym­pa­thy for the social­ly dis­ad­van­taged — no way infe­ri­or in his eyes to the well-to-do bour­geoisie — he active­ly called atten­tion to them too.” Anoth­er aim with Worn Out, adds McGreevy, was “to seek employ­ment at a British pub­li­ca­tion, but he either failed to fol­low through on this idea or had his work reject­ed.” This would have count­ed as just anoth­er seem­ing instance of fail­ure, the likes of which char­ac­ter­ized the painter’s short life. Lit­tle could he, his cor­re­spon­dents, or his mod­els have imag­ined that his works would one day become some of the most famous in the world — and cer­tain­ly not that one of his sketch­es would go on to be enshrined well over a cen­tu­ry lat­er, as it has been since last Fri­day at the muse­um that bears his name.

via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,000+ Art­works by Vin­cent Van Gogh Dig­i­tized & Put Online by Dutch Muse­ums: Enter Van Gogh World­wide

Down­load Hun­dreds of Van Gogh Paint­ings, Sketch­es & Let­ters in High Res­o­lu­tion

Rare Vin­cent van Gogh Paint­ing Goes on Pub­lic Dis­play for the First Time: Explore the 1887 Paint­ing Online

Expe­ri­ence the Van Gogh Muse­um in 4K Res­o­lu­tion: A Video Tour in Sev­en Parts

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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