January 16, 2008 / 2:12 PM / in 10 years

Experts examine "Van Gogh" sketchbook in Greece

ATHENS (Reuters) - A sketchbook believed to have been Vincent van Gogh’s containing portraits similar to those in his most famous works has been found in Greece, its owner said on Wednesday.

<p>Greek writer Doreta Peppa holds copies of a sketchbook which she said belonged to Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh in Athens January 15, 2008. Peppa said she had discovered the small brown sketchbook, with more than 60 pages of sketches and drawings, in boxes left by her father in storage and now she is in talks with the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam to authenticate the work. Picture taken January 15. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>

Taken by a Greek resistance fighter from a Nazi train, the sketchbook was discovered in storage boxes by his daughter, who is seeking to establish its authenticity with the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

One art expert commissioned by Greek writer Doreta Peppa concluded the sketches were by the 19th century Dutch post-Impressionist artist. Foreign experts would soon examine the work to rule on its authenticity, she said.

“Who would not be moved by such a discovery? This is van Gogh’s soul,” Peppa told Reuters. “He intended this sketchbook as a gift and there is no other like it in the world.”

The booklet includes sketches of faces and characters, some similar to those incorporated in van Gogh paintings and drawings including ‘The Potato Eaters’, ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Pere Tanguy’.

Peppa said she had discovered the small brown sketchbook, with more than 60 pages of sketches and drawings, in boxes left in storage by her late father. If genuine, it could be worth close to four million euros, she said.

A photograph of what Peppa says is the artist himself was also found.

<p>Greek writer Doreta Peppa holds copies of a sketchbook which she said belonged to Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh in Athens January 15, 2008. Peppa said she had discovered the small brown sketchbook, with more than 60 pages of sketches and drawings, in boxes left by her father in storage and now she is in talks with the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam to authenticate the work. Picture taken January 15. REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>

“The notebook ... is a great gift to the whole world of arts,” said Greek artist and art expert Athanasio Celia, who was asked by Peppa to examine the sketchbook.

“It is also an exclusive testimony that drawing was, as he believed, the backbone of painting,” Celia said in his report, which concludes the sketches are authentic.

The booklet bears the stamp of the Brussels Royal Academy of Art where van Gogh moved to in 1880, as well as a Nazi stamp.

“This sketchbook was my father’s who was a Greek resistance fighter in World War Two,” Peppa said holding up scanned pages of the booklet which she keeps in a bank deposit box.

“According to his writings, he took it during an attack on a Nazi train retreating from Greece at the end of the German occupation,” she said.

“I am open for any serious scientist to examine the sketchbook,” Peppa added.

With a roughly estimated price tag of close to 4 million euros, the sketchbook, could fetch more at an auction, if genuine, but Peppa said she had no immediate plans to sell it.

“I don’t want it to leave my hands,” she said. “I don’t see it as a way to get rich.”

Editing by Charles Dick

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