Christian Nicolai Mustad died in 1970 at the age of 92. For his family, settling the estate truly was … settling the estate.
They inventoried the furnishings, the rugs, the art, and eventually made their way to the attic of his Norwegian estate. In the dim light of the fading day, one family member stumbled upon a heavy rectangular form, measuring little more than 2′ x 3′. As he unwrapped the canvas, he called the others over to see his discovery.
Mustad had been an art collector. His sprawling estate was filled with Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley, and Degas. The family noted the broad brushstrokes, the cobalt blue, and the layers of paint. Knowing a bit about art themselves, they thought maybe this painting was actually a Van Gogh.
But when they showed the painting to an art dealer he dismissed the painting as a fake.
Twenty-one years later, the family tried again. And again the painting was labeled. Fake.
But in 2013, the story was different, thanks to chemical analysis, x-ray, and most interestingly, a letter from Vincent Van Gogh dated July 5, 1888.
“Yesterday, at sunset, I was on a stony heath where very small, twisted oaks grow, in the background a ruin on the hill, and wheatfields in the valley. It was romantic, it couldn’t be more so, à la Monticelli, the sun was pouring its very yellow rays over the bushes and the ground, absolutely a shower of gold. And all the lines were beautiful, the whole scene had a charming nobility. You wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see knights and ladies suddenly appear, returning from hunting with hawks, or to hear the voice of an old Provençal troubadour. The fields seemed purple, the distances blue.”
The fake was a masterpiece. But why had the masterpiece been in the attic?
Mustad had bought the Van Gogh in 1908. While entertaining the French ambassador to Sweden, Mustad showed the painting to his guest. The ambassador looked at the painting and hinted that it probably was a fake.
Mustard was so embarrassed that he removed the masterpiece and hid it in the attic. The masterpiece lay wrapped in sheets and hidden in shadows for decades.
And I wonder if you might feel a little like that painting. You’ve believed the whispers of the father of lies. And now you’re veiled, hidden, and just a little afraid that this shadowy life is all there is.
I’ve got good new for you. God is searching through the shadows, cleaning out attics, and bringing all things into the light. He’s reversing the curse and unraveling the lies. And just like Van Gogh, he’s written a letter that reveals your true identity, “You are created in my image for beautiful purposes. You, my daughter, are a masterpiece.”
And now, my friend, isn’t it time to start seeing yourself the way that God sees you?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10