Rice University professor’s sleuthing helps identify lost painting by Van Gogh

EXPERT ALERT

David Ruth
713-348-6327
david@rice.edu

Mike Williams
713-348-6728
mikewilliams@rice.edu

Rice University professor’s sleuthing helps identify lost painting by Van Gogh

HOUSTON – (Sept. 9, 2013) – A Rice University professor’s super sleuthing made the connection between a painting once thought to be a fake Vincent van Gogh and a real — and famous — van Gogh at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).

Don Johnson, the J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice, performed an X-ray analysis of the canvas behind “Sunset at Montmajour,” which has been determined to be authentic by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

“I pointed out the very close, but not exact, relationship of this painting to the only van Gogh in the MFAH,” Johnson said. “Apparently, this pointed them in the direction of examining the Houston painting for a more detailed comparison.”

The painting’s canvas was a match for “The Rocks,” owned by the MFAH.

Johnson has become well-known in the art world for his detailed analysis of canvas used by the masters, particularly by van Gogh. He and a colleague at the University of Arizona developed a computer program to analyze aspects of the canvases behind the paintings of van Gogh and others that cannot be seen in any other way.

The signal-processing algorithm automatically counts the thread density in a canvas through X-rays to reveal previously unavailable details about the materials of the masters. The process creates a canvas “fingerprint” for art historians, who previously had to count threads by hand and eye.

A cover story about the discovery will appear in the October issue of The Burlington Magazine. The discovery was also reported in today’s New York Times.

To schedule an interview with Johnson or for information, contact David Ruth at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

-30-

This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

Download a high-resolution portrait of Don Johnson here:

0909-JOHNSON-1-SMALL.jpg

 

http://news.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/0909-JOHNSON-1.jpg

Related materials:

Rice professor’s program brings van Goghs back to basics:

http://news.rice.edu/2010/08/06/rice-professors-program-brings-van-goghs-back-to-basics/

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for “best value” among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRiceU.

 

If you do not wish to receive news releases from Rice University, reply to this email and write “unsubscribe” in the subject line.  Office of News and Media Relations – MS 300, Rice University, 6100 Main St., Houston, TX 77005

 

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.