Scotland’s National Galleries revealed, Thursday, the discovery of a previously unknown portrait of Vincent Van Gogh behind another painting by the artist.
The self-portrait was found on the back of Van Gogh’s “Peasant Woman’s Head” when experts at the Edinburgh Gallery took an x-ray of the canvas before an upcoming exhibition. The work is believed to have been hidden for more than a century, covered in layers of glue and cardboard when it was framed in the early 1900s.
Van Gogh was famous for turning canvases and painting on the other side to save money.
The photo shows a bearded babysitter in a brimmed hat. Experts said that the subject was immediately recognized as the artist himself, and is believed to be one of his early works. The left ear is clearly visible and Van Gogh famously cut it in 1888.
Frances Fowle, senior curator at the National Galleries of Scotland, said the discovery was “exciting”.
“Moments like this are extremely rare,” she said. “We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most important and most famous artists in the world.”
The fair said experts are evaluating how to remove glue and cardboard without damaging the “cultivator head”.
Visitors to the upcoming Impressionist exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh can view an X-ray image of a self-portrait through a lightbox.
“A Taste for Impressionism” runs from July 30 to November 13.
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