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Dr J.L. van Tilborgh (1956) has been appointed professor of Art History, specialising in Van Gogh, at the University of Amsterdam’s (UvA) Faculty of Humanities.

Louis van Tilborg
Photo: Jeroen Oerlemans

Louis van Tilborgh conducts research into the life and work of Vincent van Gogh at the Van Gogh Museum. As professor, he will be deploying the full span of his experience of the museum and ongoing research projects there in his academic teaching and research activities. Though trained as an iconologist, Van Tilborgh's museum career led him to shift his focus to the creative process in the broadest sense of the word. While also interested in the artwork as a physical object, he specifically seeks to link questions regarding métier to the art historical and cultural historical context. Van Gogh's oeuvre, which is uniquely varied and complex, offers fertile ground for collaboration with other disciplines, both within and beyond the humanities.

At the Van Gogh Museum, Van Tilborgh looks at issues of authenticity and is engaged in a diverse range of projects. Currently, he is working with other scholars on the final volume of the museum's collection catalogues of Van Gogh, in which a key topic is discolouration in his painting oeuvre. Another project involves analysis of whether Van Gogh's paintings can be classified on the basis of the types of canvas used. At the same time, Van Tilborgh is looking at how Van Gogh's work was influenced by Japanese art, in connection with a forthcoming exhibition, and at how the artist's religious background and the Protestant work ethic may have helped shape his artistic practice.

Van Tilborgh has worked at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam since 1986, first as a curator at the Exhibitions Department and subsequently as head of the Library and Documentation, head of Collections and curator of Paintings. In 2006 he was appointed senior researcher at the museum. Van Tilborgh has published extensively on Van Gogh, including numerous articles for The Burlington Magazine, and is an editor of Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly of the History of Art and of Van Gogh Studies.