What Lies Beneath
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Scottish art conservators have discovered a self-portrait of renowned artist Vincent van Gogh hidden under one of his paintings for more than a century, CNN reported.
The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) said conservators came across the secret work after taking an X-ray of the artist’s 1885 “Head of a Peasant Woman” work ahead of an upcoming exhibition.
“Moments like this are incredibly rare,” said Frances Fowle, a senior curator at the NGS, in a statement. “We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent van Gogh, one of the most important and popular artists in the world.”
NGS representatives said the concealed artwork was hidden at the back of the canvas, shielded by a sheet of cardboard. The discovery wasn’t a complete surprise – Van Gogh was known to reuse canvases to save money.
The curators suggested that the self-portrait was created during a pivotal moment in the Dutch artist’s career when he was exposed to the work of the French impressionists after moving to Paris.
They are unsure about the current condition of the self-portrait: To study it would require a very delicate extraction to avoid damaging the original painting.
If uncovered, however, it could shed new light on the tormented painter, who shot himself on July 27, 1890, and died two days later due to struggles with mental illness and financial difficulties.
The X-ray of the newly discovered portrait will go on display for the first time through a specially designed lightbox at the Royal Scottish Academy’s “A Taste for Impressionism” exhibition, which runs from July 30 to Nov. 13 in Edinburgh.