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Experts from the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh discovered a self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh that they were unaware of, on the back of another painting they were inspecting.

The unknown work had been placed behind “Peasant’s Head”, which the artist painted during the winter of 1884-1885. Experts recognized the newly found work as a likeness of Van Gogh. Although they are unsure when it was painted, they noted that the self-portrait showed Van Gogh with both ears – the artist cut off his left ear in 1888. .

“Moments like this are incredibly rare,” said Frances Fowle, Senior Curator of the National Galleries of Scotland. “We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most important and popular artists in the world.”

Fowle said it was “thrilling” to find such a discovery.

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Senior conservator Lesley Stevenson sees a peasant’s head next to an X-ray image of Van Gogh’s hidden self-portrait. Behind another of the artist’s paintings, a previously unknown self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh was discovered. The National Galleries of Scotland said Thursday it was discovered on the back of Van Gogh’s “Head of a Peasant Woman” when experts took an X-ray of the canvas before an upcoming exhibition. (Neil Hanna via AP)

Experts found the self-portrait when they used an X-ray of the “Head of a Peasant Woman” canvas before it was included in an exhibition. They believe it has been covered in glue and cardboard for more than a hundred years since it was framed in the early 20th century.

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It was common for Van Gogh to reuse the canvases by turning them and painting on the other side to reduce costs.

Detail of the back of a peasant woman's head on June 19, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  A previously unknown self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh was discovered behind another of the artist's paintings. The National Galleries of Scotland said Thursday it was discovered on the back of Van Gogh "Head of a peasant" when the experts took an X-ray of the canvas before an upcoming exhibition.  (Neil Hanna via AP)

Detail of the back of a peasant woman’s head on June 19, 2022 in Edinburgh, Scotland. A previously unknown self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh was discovered behind another of the artist’s paintings. The National Galleries of Scotland said Thursday it was discovered on the back of Van Gogh’s “Head of a Peasant Woman” when experts performed a radiography of the canvas before an upcoming exhibition. (Neil Hanna via AP)

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The key now is for the experts to remove the cardboard and glue to preserve the self-portrait without damaging “Peasant Head”.

Visitors will be able to see an X-ray image of the self-portrait at the ‘A Taste for Impressionism’ exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh from 30 July to 13 November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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