It is an event in the art world. It was hidden for about 140 years and at last it is revealed. The discovery of a self-portrait by Van Gogh surprised the experts.
Van Gogh used all kinds of materials. He did not always have money to buy canvases. He even used tablecloths and rags. Also, already finished works, as in this case. In front you can see the Portrait of a peasant woman with white bonnet On the reverse, Van Gogh painted a self-portrait that has remained hidden until now.
It was covered under a thick layer of glue and cardboard. An X-ray examination revealed it. The painting is in the National Gallery of Scotland. The discovery was made by chance, while studying the painting in question.
Frances Fowle is curator of the Scottish room. She stated that they will recover the self-portrait in a delicate and unhurried manner. She notes that the find “fits into a kind of series. Van Gogh has eight paintings in which he painted himself from behind the canvas”. The artist would thoroughly prepare the canvases before working. “So he could paint from behind, which gives them added value.”
They estimate that the layers of glue and cardboard were put on the painting around 1905. The work was being prepared for an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum that year. The face of the peasant woman must have been considered more interesting than the self-portrait.
The young model in Van Gogh’s painting may have been Gordina de Groot. She appears among the diners in the canvas Family Eating Potatoesalso from 1885.
The discovery of a Van Gogh self-portrait brings us back to the great artist. His devotion to art and his profession endowed his works with a particular intensity. His exaltation was combined with his mental and health problems. And they eventually led him to the sanatorium of Saint-Rémy de Provence, in the southeast of France.
The year was 1889. He arrived there from Arles, where he had cut off his ear in an episode of psychosis. He entered the hospital of his own free will. Despite his problems, it was a prolific period. But a year later he moved to a town near Paris, where he ended up shooting himself in the chest.