Unpublished self-portrait of Van Gogh discovered hidden behind another painting

London (CNN) — An unpublished self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh was discovered behind one of his paintings, it was covered with layers of glue and cardboard for more than a century.

The image was found when art restorers x-rayed Van Gogh’s 1885 painting “Peasant’s Head” ahead of an upcoming exhibition. They discovered the image hidden on the back of his canvas, hidden by a sheet of cardboard, according to a press release from the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

According to experts, the revealed artwork would have been unknown until now.

“Moments like this are incredibly rare,” Frances Fowle, senior curator of French art at NGS, said in Thursday’s press release. “We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most important and popular artists in the world.”

van gogh peasant head

X-ray examination revealed a self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh on the back of the canvas of his 1885 painting “Peasant’s Head”. Credit: Neil Hanna

The Dutch master used to reuse canvases to save money, turning them over to work on the back, according to NGS.

It is thought that the self-portrait was probably made at a key moment in Van Gogh’s career, when he was exposed to the work of the French Impressionists after moving to Paris.

The “absolutely convincing” x-ray image shows “a bearded model, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a loose scarf at his throat. He stares at the viewer, the right side of his face in shadow and his left ear clearly visible” . “, according to the press release.

Although the status of the actual self-portrait is unknown, if discovered it is hoped it will help shed new light on the renowned artist.

The process of removing the glue and cardboard will require delicate conservation work. Research is underway on how to do this without damaging the “Peasant’s Head” artwork.

The painting, which shows a woman from the town of Nuenen in the southern Netherlands, where the artist lived from December 1883 to November 1885, came into the possession of the NGS in 1960 as a gift from a lawyer from ‘Edinburgh. .

Van Gogh

‘Head of a Peasant Woman’ came to the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) in 1960. Credit: National Galleries of Scotland

It was probably around 1905, when “Peasant’s Head” was lent to an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, that the decision was made to glue the canvas on cardboard before framing it, according to the press release. The NGS added that at the time “Peasant’s Head” was probably considered more “finished” than Van Gogh’s self-portrait.

The painting changed hands several times until it arrived in Scotland in 1951.

The X-ray image will be seen publicly for the first time through a specially designed light box when it takes center stage in the ‘A Taste for Impressionism’ exhibition from July 30 to November 13 at the Royal Scottish Academy, in Edinburgh.

Research is ongoing on how glue and cardboard can be gently removed without damaging “Peasant’s Head”. Credit: Neil Hanna

This is not the first time that paintings by famous artists have been discovered under other works.

Earlier this year it was revealed that an intriguing image of a Madonna and Child under the paint layers of a $40 million Botticelli painting.

And last year, artificial intelligence, advanced scanning technology and 3D printing were used to uncover a portrait of a crouching nude woman hidden beneath the surface of a painting by Pablo Picasso.

Leave a Comment