Hidden under “layers of glue and cardboard for more than a century,” a Van Gogh self-portrait has been discovered behind the artist’s 1885 painting, “Head of a Peasant Woman.” The self-portrait was revealed when conservators x-rayed the work ahead of the A Taste for Impressionism exhibition at Edinburgh’s Royal Scottish Academy, opening this month. “Moments like this are incredibly rare,” says Frances Fowle (senior curator of French art at the National Galleries of Scotland). In the hidden artwork, Van Gogh (who often reused canvases to save money) painted “a bearded sitter in a brimmed hat with a neckerchief loosely tied at the throat. He fixes the viewer with an intense stare, the right side of his face in shadow and his left ear clearly visible.” It will take time-consuming and meticulous conservation work to remove the glue (if it’s even possible) but the x-ray is on view with the rest of the Royal Scottish Academy show.
Image courtesy of National Galleries of Scotland