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Van Gogh’s “Bedroom” cleaned up again

With precision instruments and painstaking patience, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has completed a six-month cleaning and restoration of The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh. The Bedroom is once again clean and fresh. 

“Looking at this painting should create a feeling of inner rest. Or rather, create the illusion of,” Vincent van Gogh wrote to his brother, Theo. Then, the artist identifies the different colours that he has used for the interior: pale violet, red, yellow – “like freshly-churned butter” – and lemon green.
 
The Bedroom is a familiar image. Van Gogh painted it in October 1888 in his Arles studio in the south of France. He painted it to liven up his own house. The artist himself considered it one of his best works; in the Van Gogh Museum today, it is also one of the most loved paintings.

Earlier restoration work on The Bedroom caused considerable damage. The artist himself hadn’t been so careful when it was damaged by moisture in Arles. Van Gogh pressed newspaper to the canvas to protect it from further deterioration, and later rolled it up and sent it to his brother Theo in Paris.

Art restorer Ella Hendriks picked and scraped away yellowing varnish from the painting, millimetre by millimetre. As she worked with cotton buds under a microscope, she discovered that many of the original colours were different. Some new details even appeared when the layers of old varnish were removed. Ms Hendriks has described the process on her blog.
 
“We miss The Bedroom,” wrote a Spaniard in the visitors’ book a couple of months ago. The Bedroom has been returned to its place on the wall in the Amsterdam museum. But not for long – the painting will soon be on its way to a major Van Gogh exhibition in Japan.

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This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011 Dutch government’s decided to cut funding and shift RNW in 2013 from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW’s current activities can be found at http://www.rnw.org/about-rnw