A5 (14.8 x 21 cm) single postcard featuring The Head of a Peasant Woman by Vincent van Gogh on one side and the x-ray image of the discovered artist’s self-portrait on the other side, part of the National Galleries of Scotland collection.
The National Galleries of Scotland has discovered what is almost certainly a previously unknown self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh. Believed to be a first for a UK institution, the mysterious image was revealed by an x-ray taken when we examined Van Gogh’s Head of a Peasant Woman of 1885 ahead of our exhibition A Taste for Impressionism.
The woman's headdress frames her face and stands out from the dark background of this small picture. It is one of a series of studies Van Gogh made in connection with a larger painting 'The Potato Eaters' (Vincent van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam), completed in May 1885.
Largely self-taught Van Gogh was inspired, in these early paintings of Dutch peasants, by the realism of Millet and Courbet. They are dark and sombre in mood, reflecting his models' harsh lives. He painted them while living with his parents in Nuenen, South Holland.
Vincent van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who posthumously became one of the most famous and influential figures in Western art history.