Unpublished self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh discovered behind an earlier painting

The name of Vincent Van Gogh is one of the best known in the history of painting, even in the history of art. But that doesn’t mean that the man himself had any success in his short life. Although he was convinced that he was creating “the art of the future”, and was apparently right to do so, buyers of European art in the 19th century did not quite see him that way. Consequently impoverished, Van Gogh had to resort to unconventional strategies to maintain his artistic productivity. Instead of professional models, for example, he hired peasants and street people. And when he couldn’t paint them, he painted himself.

Van Gogh will also save money by reusing his canvases, a practice not unheard of in his time. “However, instead of painting over earlier works,” writes Jordan Ogg at the National Galleries Scotland, “he was turning the canvas over and working upside down.”

Looks like he did it with the National Galleries of Scotland Peasant head, the back of which turns out to bear a previously unknown self-portrait hidden by “layers of glue and cardboard” for more than a century. X-ray analysis revealed “a bearded babysitter in a wide-brimmed hat with a scarf loosely tied at his throat. He stares intently at the viewer, the right side of his face in shadow and his left ear clearly visible.

Even in its ghostly lack of detail, this face seems unmistakable. If it belongs to whom we think it belongs, it will become Van Gogh’s 36th known self-portrait. It would have been painted before 1884 Peasant head Women, “at a key moment in Van Gogh’s career, when he was exposed to the work of the French Impressionists after moving to Paris.” You can learn more about the ongoing process of rediscovering this lost self-portrait in the video at the top of the article. Van Gogh expressed his belief that he was painting for future generations, but even he would surely be amazed at the excitement of 21st-century curators to find another one of his self-portraits – and one he saw fit. to give to the carton.

Related content:

Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portraits: Explore and Download a Free Collection of 17 Paintings Online

Here is the newly discovered sketch of Vincent van Gogh Sketch, “Study for Worn Out” (1882)

Watch Van Gogh’s famous self-portrait turn into a photograph

Discovery: The only known image of Vincent Van Gogh as an adult artist? (Maybe, maybe not)

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts about cities, language and culture. His projects include the Substack newsletter city ​​books, the book The Stateless City: A Walk Through 21st Century Los Angeles and the video series The city in cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshallon Facebook or Instagram.

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