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Publisher's Summary

In Breaking van Gogh, James Grundvig investigates the history and authenticity of van Gogh's iconic Wheat Field with Cypresses, currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Relying on a vast array of techniques from the study of the painter's biography and personal correspondence to the examination of the painting's style and technical characteristics, Grundvig proves that the "most expensive purchase" housed in the Met is a fake.

The Wheat Field with Cypresses is traditionally considered to date to the time of van Gogh's stay in the Saint-Rémy mental asylum, where the artist produced many of his masterpieces. After his suicide, these paintings languished for a decade, until his sister-in-law took them to a family friend for restoration. The restorer had other ideas.

In the course of his investigation, Grundvig traces the incredible story of this piece from the artist's brushstrokes in sunlit southern France to a forger's den in Paris, the art collections of a prominent Jewish banking family and a Nazi-sympathizing Swiss arms dealer, and finally the walls of the Met. The riveting narrative weaves its way through the turbulent history of twentieth-century Europe, as the painting's fate is intimately bound with some of its major players.

©2016 James O. Grundvig (P)2017 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Van No

As painter I bought this book for interest in Vincent Van Gogh. I have listened to this book four times. There is a lot of information. I will be buying a hard copy. I have learned a lot regarding how Vincent worked as a painter and his technique. There is a lot of information regarding the stolen paintings from World War 2. I would recommend this to anyone interested in painting and to all the Van Gogh enthusiasts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good Story but not Historically Accurate

Would you listen to Breaking van Gogh again? Why?

I would definitely listen to this again. The story is highly interesting covering all angles in which the picture wheat field with Cypresses came into existence.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

I knew virtually nothing about this topic and don't follow art or the art world but I was entertained the entire time. It was written very well with plots rises and suspension to keep you wanting to listen.

Have you listened to any of Jeff Cummings’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first for me.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think the areas where he discussed Vincent Van Gogh and how his mental illness and lead poisoning was the reason for his ability to see color so vividly was so heart breaking for me. It made me realize that while we love looking at the art work we hate the reasons that inspired the art work and there's such a bitter irony there.

Any additional comments?

The only thing I didn't like about this book was that while it's discussing historical events the author has a highly emotional spin on everything. Many facts are listed as facts instead of emotional conjecture and that bothered me. The story was well written and presented but sometimes the conclusions were listed as facts when in reality we have no way of knowing and or no evidence. I wish the author had been more clear about this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Captivating!

Loved this book, the history was fact full and obviously authenticated by the author. A must listen for artists and art enthusiasts.