A gallery in Scotland said Thursday it was “delighted” to announce the discovery of a previously unknown self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, with his ear intact, hidden behind another painting.
The portrait was found on the back of the canvas of the Dutch Post-Impressionist’s 1885 work “Peasant’s Head”, covered with layers of glue and cardboard.
It shows a bearded babysitter in a wide-brimmed hat with a scarf tied loosely around her neck. It was completed before Van Gogh cut off his left ear in 1888.
Visitors to the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh will be able to view it at an upcoming exhibition, as an x-ray image through a specially designed light box.
In the longer term, curators are working to safely extract it from the overlaid canvas without damaging the paintings.
Lesley Stevenson, senior conservator of paintings at the National Galleries, said they were “delighted” with the find.
“When we first saw the x-ray, of course, we were extremely excited,” she said.
“This is an important discovery because it adds to what we already know about Van Gogh’s life.
“There’s a lot to think about in terms of next steps, but for us this is another little nugget to bring us a little closer to an amazing artist.”
Curators believe the painting is part of a series of experimental self-portraits. Five similar works are on display at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, painted before he moved to Paris in 1886.
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