X-rays have found a hidden self-portrait on the back of a Van Gogh painting.
On the back of one of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, a hidden self-portrait that had never been seen before was found. An X-ray showed that “Head of a Peasant Woman” by Van Gogh has a secret portrait on the back.
Before an upcoming show at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Scotland, the painting from 1885 was being looked at.
The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) found that glue and cardboard were used to cover the back of the canvas.
“NGS experts think that these materials were put on in the early 1900s before an exhibition,” the group said in a press release. “Van Gogh used the same canvases over and over to save money. But instead of painting over what he had already done, he would flip the canvas over and work on the back.”
NGS says that the portrait shows a person with a beard who is wearing a brimmed hat and has a neckerchief tied loosely around his neck. The man in the portrait is staring very hard, and the right side of his face is in shadow. His left ear, on the other hand, is evident.
In 1888, Van Gogh cut off a piece of his own ear with a razor. At the time, he was living in Paris with another artist, Paul Gauguin. The Van Gogh Gallery says there aren’t many details, but it’s thought that the incident happened after Gauguin started to find it hard to live with Van Gogh and said he would leave. The night Gaugin decided to stay in a hotel, Van Gogh cut his ear with a razor.
NGS says that the portrait was made after Van Gogh painted Head of a Peasant Woman, probably at a key time in his career. He would have moved to Paris at this point and learned about French impressionism.
NGS said that the event had a big impact on him and was a big reason why he started painting in a more colorful and expressive style that is still very popular today.
This is thought to be the first time a U.K. institution has found something like this. Now, people can see the x-ray at the “A Taste for Impressionism” show at the Royal Scottish Academy from July 30 to November 13. A specially made lightbox will let you see the x-ray.
There is also ongoing research into how to remove the glue and cardboard to reveal the hidden self-portrait, which requires careful conservation work. No one knows how the painting is doing.
Professor Frances Fowle, who is the senior curator of French art at the National Galleries of Scotland, said, “This kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.” “We found an unfinished painting by Vincent van Gogh, who is one of the most famous and important artists in the world. What a wonderful gift for Scotland and the National Galleries will take care of it for all time.”
No one knows how the self-portrait underneath is doing, but if it can be found, it is thought that it will help us learn more about this mysterious and exciting artist.