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Hidden Van Gogh self-portrait discovered beneath another painting

By Pedro Oliveira Jr.
This portrait of artist Vincent Van Gogh was discovered during an X-ray examination after hiding for more than a century beneath "Head of a Peasant Woman." Photo by Neil Hanna/National Galleries of Scotland
1 of 2 | This portrait of artist Vincent Van Gogh was discovered during an X-ray examination after hiding for more than a century beneath "Head of a Peasant Woman." Photo by Neil Hanna/National Galleries of Scotland

July 14 (UPI) -- An unseen self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh has been revealed after more than a century hiding beneath one of his other paintings.

Art conservators at the National Galleries of Scotland found the image during an X-ray examination of the painter's "Head of a Peasant Woman."

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"Moments like this are incredibly rare," University of Edinburgh Professor Frances Fowle, senior curator of French art at the museum, said in a statement Thursday.

Van Gogh, who died penniless in 1890, often reused canvas to save money. The newly revealed portrait is covered in layers of glue and cardboard, and experts are still attempting to recover the work without damaging "Head of a Peasant Woman."

Conservators at the National Galleries say it "may be possible to uncover the hidden self-portrait, but the process of removing the glue and cardboard will require delicate conservation work."

For now, museum-goers can see the portrait through an X-ray image showing a ghostly, bearded Van Gogh wearing a brimmed hat and a neckerchief - his infamously-chopped left ear still intact.

"Head of a Peasant Woman" has been at the National Galleries of Scotland since 1960.

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This is not the first time art historians have discovered hidden works beneath a Van Gogh painting.

In 2008, European researchers discovered an image of a woman hiding beneath "Patch of Grass," appearing to show what would later become one of the characters in the 1885 masterpiece "The Potato Eaters."

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