Van Gogh’s hidden self-portrait discovered on back of earlier painting – National

In a wondrous discovery, curators at the National Galleries of Scotland have unearthed a never-before-seen self-portrait of one of the most important and influential Western artists of all time, Vincent Van Gogh.

According to the National Galleries, the portrait was discovered Friday on the back of an existing Van Gogh painting. head of a peasant womanunder layers of glue and cardboard.

Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portrait revealed by an X-ray of “a Peasant Woman’s Head”, 1885.

National Galleries of Scotland

The 1885 painting was undergoing a routine conservational X-ray when the mysterious self-portrait was discovered.

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The x-ray showed a bearded man wearing a hat and scarf. The seated person, believed to be Van Gogh himself, stares intently ahead. The right side of his face is shaded and his left ear is visible. (Van Gogh infamously mutilated part of his left ear after an argument with artist Paul Gaugin in 1888.)

“Head of a Peasant Woman” painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1885.

National Galleries of Scotland

The X-ray discovery is believed to be the first of its kind for a British institution.

The National Galleries say the portrait was likely covered in glue and cardboard in the 20th century, meaning it has been hidden for over 100 years.

Van Gogh, best known for his Post-Impressionist paintings, would often reuse canvas to save money, the National Galleries explained. They say that instead of painting over earlier works of his, Van Gogh (who was financially supported during his lifetime by his brother Theo) would turn the canvas over and work on the reverse.

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The back of “Head of a Peasant Woman”. The canvas is covered with layers of glue and cardboard. Below is the self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh. The condition is unknown.

National Galleries of Scotland

It may be possible one day to uncover the hidden self-portrait, the National Galleries say, although it would require extensive and delicate conservation work to avoid damage head of a peasant woman.

Lesley Stevenson, Senior Painting Conservator, shared her excitement at the shocking find in a video produced by the National Galleries.

“Of course, when we saw the X-ray for the first time, we were very excited. A discovery this big happens once, twice in a restorer’s life,” Stevenson said in the video.

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“It’s really meaningful to discover a portrait that no one knew existed until this moment,” senior curator Frances Fowle said in the National Galleries video.

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It is believed that the self-portrait was painted afterwards head of a peasant woman.

The original front painting head of a peasant woman will be included in the upcoming National Galleries exhibition entitled A Taste of Impressionism. A custom-made light box will now accompany the painting, allowing guests to see the X-ray of the self-portrait.

The condition of the newly discovered self-portrait is unknown, but national galleries and art enthusiasts around the world hope that when the painting is unveiled it will provide a better glimpse into understanding the beloved, enigmatic artist Van Gogh.

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