16 July 2022, by Victoria Séveno

Experts working at a museum in Scotland have made a rather impressive discovery, uncovering a new self-portrait of Vincent van Gogh hidden beneath layers of glue and cardboard on the back of another one of his paintings.

X-ray of Head of a Peasant Woman reveals hidden self-portrait

The team at the National Galleries of Scotland made the discovery when Head of a Peasant Woman was x-rayed ahead of an exhibition, revealing a self-portrait of the famous artist wearing a brimmed hat and neckerchief. 

Lesley Stevenson, the senior conservator at the gallery, called it a “significant discovery,” and told BBC News that her team was “hugely excited” when they first saw the hidden painting. NRC reports that the Van Gogh Museum doesn’t question the authenticity of the new self-portrait.

Van Gogh known to have reused canvases to save money

Van Gogh is known to have regularly reused canvases in order to save money, and while Head of a Peasant Woman dates from 1884, it is believed the self-portrait was painted a couple of years later after the prominent Dutch painter moved to Paris. 

Following his death in 1890, the canvas was loaned to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, which is when the self-portrait is believed to have been covered up by layers of cardboard before the painting was framed for exhibition. BBC News reports that Head of a Peasant Woman was likely regarded as more “finished” and was therefore favoured over the self-portrait.

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