On Tuesday, July 4, at 3 pm Vincent Van Gogh specialist specialist Antonio De Robertis and his collaborator Emanuele Della Bella broke into the ground floor of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam dedicated to self-portraits exhibition, and deployed a banner of 1 by 3 meters, launching leaflets aimed to protest against museum managers that did not accept the request made for at least two years to recognize as authentic the only existing Van Gogh adult photo at the age of 34, discovered by De Robertis in the archives of the National Paris Institute of Art History in July 2014.
Together this research, De Robertis discovered that there are also three female portraits in the museum’s collection, whose identity was unknown so far, identifying Matilda von Wullfert Pokhitonova, her daughter Vera Barbe and her mother, Sophie Mathilde Philippaeus.
The three women are in kinship with Ivan Pavlovitch Pokhitonov, whose portrait, made by Van Gogh in 1887 in Paris, was rendered by museum officials for error from the catalog in July 2007.
The protest was also intended to restore the authenticity of this painting, preserved by the National Gallery of Victoria (Ngv) in Melbourne.
The two demonstrators were neutralized, the banner went torn by security officers, who repeatedly attempted to get them out of the museum.
De Robertis and Della Bella refused and asked to discuss their reasons with the museum’s top officials.
They came, and after intense and dramatic negotiations, in an adjacent living room, and they were, with great astonishment, achieved by Nienke Bakker, curator of the paintings, and then by Louis Van Tilborgh, number 2 of the museum, after the director.
The discussion had peaceful moments, alternating with other high-tension, when De Robertis pointed out them the mistakes they made.
At the end everyone stayed on his positions and came to greetings with a final shot.
De Robertis and Della Bella were invited to a further clarification meeting the next day, Wednesday July 5 at 11 am, on the Stedelik Museum’s terrace bar.
They had another two hours animated discussions with Van Tilborgh and Teio Meedendorp, before to say hello, everybody standing on their positions.
At the end, Teio Meedendorp congratulated De Robertis for his undisputed qualities of long-time scholar.
De Robertis left in Meedendorp’s hand a dossier in English, related to about 40 interesting study points to be examined, declaring to be at disposal for comparisons in fixed periods.