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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.

The detective work is described in a new publication by the Van Gogh Museum titled “Rehabilitation of a flower still life in the Kroeller-Mueller Museum and a lost Antwerp painting by Van Gogh.”