The discovery of Van Gogh’s self-portrait hidden behind the previous painting | Vincent Van Gogh

On a Friday afternoon, they discovered him, staring intently from the again of a canvas in a wide-brimmed hat and saggy neck scarf: a beforehand undiscovered self-portrait. Vincent Van Goghone of the crucial well-known and influential figures within the historical past of Western artwork, who has been hiding in plain sight within the Nationwide Gallery of Scotland for greater than half a century.

“It was very thrilling,” says Leslie Stephenson, chief conservation officer for work on the Nationwide Gallery. Scotlandin the intervening time when routine X-rays of the upkeep of one other portray by Van Gogh, The Head of a Peasant Girl, revealed this extraordinary discover on the again of the canvas, hidden for greater than 100 years underneath layers of glue and cardboard.

Self-portrait of Van Gogh revealed by X-ray of a peasant woman's head, 1885
Self-portrait of Van Gogh revealed by X-ray of a peasant girl’s head, 1885. Photograph: Graeme Xmas/Nationwide Galleries of Scotland

Stevenson says of the “modest little portray” I gifted in 1960 Edinburgh Legal professional Alexander Maitland. It was x-rayed as a part of a cataloging train and in preparation for the summer time exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy of French Impressionism – though Van Gogh was Dutch, he spent most of his creative life in France.

The X-ray plates have been processed in an old style darkroom, and when Stevenson seemed on the images, she realized she was observing Van Gogh himself.

“Ha! We do not see a lot of the peasant girls, however what now we have is a grayish-white, the heaviest dye he used for his face, which seems after the x-rays have handed over the cardboard.”

Extra analysis signifies that the portray is considered one of a sequence of experimental self-portraits – there are 5 related works, on show within the Van Gogh Museum within the Netherlands – painted on the again of historical work from the time he lived in Nuenen, within the south of the nation, from December 1883 to November 1885. There he carried out quite a few peasant research in preparation for his early paintings The Potato Eaters, which he painted in 1885.

This discovery – believed to be the primary British establishment – stated this discovery – believed to be the primary British establishment – added to our understanding of an important interval in Van Gogh’s creative improvement, when he first encountered the work of the French Impressionists after he moved to Paris in 1886, the place he was supported by his brother Theo He met main artists resembling Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Emile Bernard.

Impressed by the likes of Georges Seurat and Paul Gauguin, he adopted a extra colourful and expressive model of portray, experimenting with damaged brushwork for the primary time, utilizing himself as a mannequin and reusing canvases to save cash.

“This was the interval when he started producing portraits important within the improvement of his mature model, when he started to experiment along with his personal distinctive brushstroke,” Faul stated. “Van Gogh was a really impartial thinker and he quickly developed his new radical model.”

The restorers will now start the method of unveiling the self-portrait, which is in an unsure state underneath layers of adhesive and cardboard, preserving the unique portray. “It is like entering into the unknown,” Stephenson stated. “The problem is to take away the adhesive from layers of oil paint, and to take advantage of the distinction within the solubility of animal glue and oil paint.”

In a typical yr, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam receives as much as 300 inquiries from individuals who imagine they’ve found a lacking Van Gogh, however only a few have been discovered to be official. In 2013 a sundown view of Montmajour, painted two years earlier than his dying in 1890 and forgotten in a Norwegian attic, was proven in Amsterdam, whereas final yr a pencil drawing of an exhausted employee, Worn Out, was proven after sitting unsupported in a gaggle Particularly for a Dutch household for over a century.

“Discovering new work is extraordinary,” Stephenson says. “Something that offers us extra details about the artist is a big bonus, and simply reveals the advantage of technological evaluation, that we will nonetheless uncover new issues.”