Self-Portraits (with and without hats)

Vincent Van Gogh was known to have painted over 30 self-portraits between the years 1886 and 1889. That is until this week when it was revealed that a hidden self-portrait by the artist has been discovered behind one of his paintings, covered by layers of glue and cardboard for more than a century. The image was found when art conservators took an X-ray of Van Gogh’s 1885 “Head of a Peasant Woman” painting ahead of a forthcoming exhibition. They discovered the concealed image at the back of its canvas hidden by a sheet of cardboard, according to a press release from the National Galleries of Scotland.

His collection of self-portraits places him among the most prolific of 19th century self-portraitists. Van Gogh used portrait painting as a method of introspection and a way of developing his skills as an artist.

In a letter to his brother Theo dated September 16, 1888, Van Gogh writes about a self-portrait he painted and dedicated to his friend and fellow artist Paul Gauguin.

“The third picture this week is a portrait of myself, almost colourless, in ashen tones against a background of pale veronese green. I purposely bought a mirror good enough to enable me to work from my image in default of a model, because if I can manage to paint the colouring of my own head, which is not to be done without some difficulty, I shall likewise be able to paint the heads of other good souls, men and women.” 

The recently discovered underlying self-portrait is thought to have likely been made during a key moment in Van Gogh’s career, when he was exposed to the work of the French impressionists after moving to Paris.
The X-ray image shows “a bearded sitter in a brimmed hat with a neckerchief loosely tied at the throat. He fixes the viewer with an intense stare, the right side of his face in shadow and his left ear clearly visible,” according to the release.
This entry was posted in Art, Europe, Museums and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Self-Portraits (with and without hats)

  1. margaret21 says:

    Fascinating! This piece of news had passed me by.

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