A British art historian believes he has tracked down a famous piece of furniture: the curved wooden bed featured in Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom paintings, completed between 1888 and 1889. According to The Independent, the bed was reportedly donated to Dutch refugees in Boxmeer, Netherlands, after World War II—and today, experts hope it might still be tucked away inside someone’s home.
While conducting research for his new book, Studio of the South: Van Gogh in Provence, van Gogh expert Martin Bailey discovered a 1937 letter written by the artist's cousin, Vincent Willem, that provided clues to the bed’s whereabouts.
Purchased in 1888, the bed furnished van Gogh’s bedroom in his Yellow House in Arles, France, which he briefly shared with fellow post-Impressionist artist Paul Gauguin. Van Gogh created three unique paintings of the space, all of which prominently featured the piece of furniture. After the artist’s 1890 suicide, the bed was given to his brother’s widow, Jo, who later moved to Holland and brought the bed with her.
Several decades later, art enthusiasts wanted to convert the Yellow House into a museum, and Jo’s nephew, Vincent Willem, received a request to borrow paintings. Vincent made an even better offer: He generously suggested that he give the museum the iconic bed.
This plan never came to fruition, as bombs destroyed the Yellow House during World War II. According to the AFP, Bailey tracked down Vincent’s son, Johan van Gogh, in 2015, and the 93-year-old told him that the bed had stood in his father’s home in Laren, Holland, until the war’s end. In 1945, it was donated to survivors in Boxmeer.
Bailey verified this tale by locating an old photo of the truck used to carry the bed from Laren to Boxmeer. Now, the art historian hopes to find the bed for himself—that is, if its later owners, unaware of their priceless possession, haven’t given or thrown it away.
[h/t The Independent]