A previously unseen self-portrait of Vincent Van Gogh has been discovered behind another one of the artist’s iconic paintings.

The self-portrait was found behind Van Gogh’s Head of a Peasant Woman when experts at Edinburgh’s National Galleries of Scotland x-rayed the canvas before it was put on public display.

The artwork is believed to have remained a secret for over a century, as it was covered with layers of cardboard and glue before it was frames in the early 20th century.

The Dutch artist was known for painting on both sides of a canvas to save money.

The portrait shows a bearded sitter in a brimmed hat, with experts saying the subject was instantly recognisable as the artist himself, and is thought to be from his early work.

Van Gogh’s left ear is clearly visible in the painting, leading experts to believe it was created before 1888 when he cut his ear off.

Frances Fowle, a senior curator at the National Galleries of Scotland, said the discovery was “thrilling”.

“Moments like this are incredibly rare,” she said.

“We have discovered an unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh, one of the most important and popular artists in the world.”

The gallery said they are evaluating how to remove the layers of cardboard and glue without damaging the original Head of a Peasant Woman artwork.

Image credits: National Galleries of Scotland

This article first appeared on OverSixty.