The Bedroom, by Van Gogh, is famous across the world. But in fact, no-one really knows what the painting originally looked like, because it has been restored so many times. The first restoration took place within Van Gogh’s lifetime, and the latest one has just been completed.
Says Ella Hendricks, restorer at the Van Gogh museum: “One of the things that makes a difference is that the artist himself tells us so much about it. There are many letters he wrote about the painting. He described how it looks and what it meant to him. So we have that information on one hand and on the other hand it has changed significantly since it left the artists’ easel. So the question is how do you dael wit this. We have quite a good idea of how the painting looked and what it meant to him, and in the meanwhile so many thing have changed the appearance of the painting. So how do we bring these two spects together? We can never cover the original appearance as it was..”
“The Bedroom” was painted when Van Gogh was living in the Yellow House in Arles, in southern France and was one of his favourites. Analysing paint samples can help unravel the painting’s history.
Researcher Muriel Grldorf, explains: “With our research we were able to find the exact structure of the layer of paint that was used for the bedroom floor, as this and other samples show. It turned out that Van Gogh used geranium lake (a fluorescent red dye) for the floor and that is a pigment which is not at all light-proof. It loses its colour very quickly when exposed to light and that has probably caused the discolouration in the floor of the bedroom.”
The newly restored painting is now on display at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam.
For more information about the museum see