3 Times an X-Ray Found Hidden Gems in Works by Famous Artists

3 Times an X-Ray Found Hidden Gems in Works by Famous Artists

Any artist will tell you that creating an artwork is a process of trial and error. Making mistakes and reusing materials is something even famous artists like de Goya, Picasso, and Van Gogh did. Fortunately, thanks to modern-day technology, we can follow the path they went through when creating their masterpieces.

3 Times an X-ray Found Hidden Gems in Works by Famous Artists

X-ray scans are often used by art conservators who need to see through the layers of old paint and varnish to properly restore the piece. It appears that paintings often contain secrets hidden from the human eye for various reasons. Here are three works of art by famous artists, which turned out to have more layers to them than everyone originally thought.

Portrait of Don Ramon Statue by Francisco de Goya

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, discovered a new unknown piece under one of the paintings by Francisco de Goya. It appeared that the canvas previously displayed a portrait of a French general — possibly, Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte — before it was painted over. Art historians suggest that de Goya might have decided to cover up the original portrait to avoid being associated with the French regime after Napoleon’s army was defeated.

Le Moulin de la Galette by Pablo Picasso

Picasso painted Le Moulin de la Galette around 1900 at the beginning of his artistic career. The well-known piece by the legendary artist contained a surprise — a lap dog that Picasso hid under the layers of pain. An X-ray revealed the small figure peacefully looking at the audience with its tiny eyes and rocking a red bow tie. It is speculated that one of the reasons why such a cute detail was concealed was because of the composition. Perhaps, Picasso thought the canine to be too distracting, as it sits right in the foreground of the painting. 

Head of a Peasant Woman by Vincent van Gogh 

Technology helped us reveal one more piece of art to the world. A never-before-seen self-portrait by Vincent van Gogh was found on the backside of his other painting by the National Galleries of Scotland right as it was preparing to exhibit the piece. It turned out that a brand-new piece was kept safe on another side of van Gogh’s “Head of a Peasant Woman,” covered by glue and cardboard.

Do you think these famous artists ever thought about their paintings being studied like this? What would they think if they knew about X-rays and the way we use them now to learn new things about art history? They would be really surprised, without a doubt.