A previously unknown portrait of the famous Dutch impressionist artist Vincent Willem van Gogh was discovered hidden under cardboard and pasted on the back of another painting.
Experts at the National Galleries in Scotland made this significant discovery when the painting in front of the exhibition is x-rays. The hidden self-portrait was covered with layers of glue and cardboard on the back of an earlier work called The Head of a Peasant Woman.
According to the BBC’s website, Leslie Stephenson, Senior Gallery Restorator, said she was “shocked” when the artist “looked at us”.
“When we first saw the X-rays,” she said, “we were obviously very excited.” Note the importance of this discovery, which is a very important addition to everything we “already know about Van Gogh’s life.”
However, it is known that the Dutch artist often used canvases to save money, and then turned them over to paint on the other side.
• The story of the painting “The head of a peasant woman”
The painting “Head of a Peasant Woman” entered the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland (NGS) in 1960, as part of a gift from a prominent lawyer in Edinburgh, and shows a local woman from the town of Nuenen in the south of the Netherlands, where the artist lived from December 1883 to November 1885, and it is believed that Van Gogh later painted the self-portrait on the other side of the canvas at a defining moment in his career, after moving to Paris and is exposed. to the work of the French Impressionists.
About 15 years after his death, The Head of a Peasant Woman was borrowed from an exhibition at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, and this apparently took place when the canvas was pasted on cardboard before it was framed.
According to experts at the museum, it appears that the peasant woman was considered more “finished” than the self-portrait on the other side, so the completed painting was displayed and the other left.
The painting moved several times and was painted in 1923 by Evelyn St. Croix acquired Fleming, although it only reached Scotland in 1951, after entering the collection of Alexander and Rosalind Maitland, who later donated it to the NGS.
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• Viewing the hidden panel requires careful maintenance
According to npr.org, art experts and specialists in the exhibition confirm that it is possible to reveal the hidden self-portrait, but the process of removing the glue and cardboard will require careful maintenance, and research continues to find out how to do it. without damaging the farmer’s head.
Visitors to the exhibition in Edinburgh, however, will be able to see the X-ray image for the first time through a light box made especially for this purpose. From Van Gogh’s face in shadows and his left ear that will be clearly visible.
• A great gift for Scotland
Van Gogh’s Head of a Peasant Woman is one of three pieces of the artist’s work in the National Gallery of Scotland, and with the discovery of the hidden self-portrait, they now have a total of four works.
Professor Frances Fowle, Senior Curator of French Art at the National Galleries of Scotland, described the discovery (according to the previous website) as “a wonderful gift for Scotland”.
She said: “Moments like these are extremely rare. We discovered an unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most important and famous artists in the world.”
Experts at the museum believe the newly discovered self-portrait cover material was used in the early 1900s.
• Not the first hidden painting
It is noteworthy that this self-portrait is not the first hidden Van Gogh painting discovered, nor is it the last. Other double-sided works by Van Gogh have previously been unveiled, including at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The well-known artist also occasionally painted on some of his works.
Vincent William van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch painter classified as one of the pioneers of Impressionism, whose works include some of the most famous, popular and expensive pieces in the world. He had frequent bouts of mental illness and during one of them he cut off part of his left ear. In the last five years of his life, he painted more than 800 oil paintings, and Gogh’s works were not sold during his lifetime, and his fame only became one of the most famous and influential after his death in 1890, at the age of 37. figures in the history of Western art.
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