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Vincent Van Gogh work once dismissed is identified as work by artist

A still life once dismissed as the work of an anonymous artist has been identified as a work of Vincent Van Gogh, the tormented Dutch impressionist.

Van Gogh painted the picture during his time in Paris when living with his brother Theo.

Van Gogh's works from this period are notoriously difficult to identify as he had not described them in letters to his brother, who returned to Holland first.

Art historians have always relied heavily on Van Gogh's letters describing in detail his work including the Sunflower oeuvre when pronouncing on genuine works by the Dutch painter whose works are now virtually unvaluable in monetary terms.

As recently as 2003 the floral still life was identified as being painted by an " unidentified artist ".

The canvas has been in the possession of the Kröller- Müller museun in Arnhem since 1974. Original pronouncements by art historians decided the painting was unimportant and not by Van Gogh

One art expert said "the canvas is too large for a Van Gogh "another said "there are too many flowers both in the vase and on the table, Vincent never painted so many flowers in one go" .

A new X-ray technique helping experts re-examine the painting.

Louis van Tilborgh, a senior researcher at Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum who took part in the confirmation process said an indistinct image of wrestlers had drawn continuing interest researchers.

Now, a new more detailed X-ray has shown the wrestlers in more detail, along with the brush strokes and pigments used. They all pointed back to Van Gogh.

"You can see the wrestlers more clearly and the fact that they are wearing loin cloths," said Van Tilborgh.

Having models pose half naked was a defining characteristic of the Antwerp academy where Van Gogh studied in early 1886. So was the size of the canvas, the Kroeller-Mueller Museum said in a statement.

Vincent wrote to his brother about needing the large canvas, new brushes and paint. Theo helped the penniless artist buy the materials and a week later Van Gogh wrote back that he was delighted with the painting of two wrestlers.

Van Tilborgh said the brush strokes and pigments in the wrestlers painting also corresponded with what experts now know about Van Gogh's work in Antwerp.

The wrestlers also help explain the "uncharacteristic exuberance" of the floral still life, the Kroeller-Mueller Museum statement said - Van Gogh had to cover up all of the old image with his new work.

Professor Joris Dik from the TU in Delft said: "This is an important discovery, I really felt I was looking over Van Gogh'shoulder when I was carrying out my work".