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December, 6, 2016

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Van Gogh Museum rules out notebook debate

THE HAGUE--Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum ruled out Tuesday a public debate over the authenticity of a book of sketches that an art historian has said belonged to the Dutch impressionist.

Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, a University of Toronto academic, has declared the apparent find to be "the most revolutionary discovery" in the history of Van Gogh's work.

But the Dutch museum says the sketches, said to be from the artist's stay in the French city of Arles, are fake.

Welsh-Ovcharov's French publishers Le Seuil reproduced the drawings earlier this month in a book titled "Vincent Van Gogh, the fog of Arles: the rediscovered sketchbook."

The art historian says the drawings came from the Cafe de la Gare in Arles — where Van Gogh stayed — which "records that on May 20, 1890 Dr Felix Rey (who had treated Van Gogh's severed ear) visited the cafe on behalf of the artist" and left a large book of drawings.

But the museum, which has already sought answers directly from the publisher, said that an open debate would not be helpful.

"We will need to have all the hard facts first.

"We therefore call on the publisher and the author to provide a clear and open response to all our comments, to all the issues in need of clarification and to the questions raised," it said.

"Until they have, we see no point in a scholarly debate and our contribution to the discussion ends here: we will no longer respond to further questions."

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