The painting, discovered by a Cincinnati Art Museum conservator, might be one of the Post-Impressionist painter’s first self-portraits.

Hidden below an 1865 Paul Cézanne still life titled “Still Life With Bread and Eggs,” the Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) discovered what could be one of the Post-Impressionist painter’s first self-portraits. The newly revealed work might depict Cézanne in his mid-20s, decades before he developed his signature brushstroke and began painting idyllic countrysides of his native France. At the time, the artist was deep in his “dark period,” an artistic era Cézanne defined with solemn and disturbing subject matter and a gloomy color palette.

“Still Life With Bread and Eggs” has been in CAM’s collection since 1955. The museum hung the painting in an exhibition this spring, and after it was taken down, Chief Conservator Serena Urry examined it for treatment. She noticed that the canvas’s cracks, which are typical of paintings this old, were unusually placed — instead of scattered across the canvas, they were concentrated in two spots. Additionally, the cracks seemed to reveal underlying white paint. The conservator asked a local medical company to bring a portable X-ray machine to the museum, where a technician scanned the 2.5-foot-wide oil painting in several parts. As Urry stitched the series of images together digitally using Photoshop, she saw “blotches of white” that indicated the presence of more white lead pigment. When the scan was rotated vertically, an image of a man emerged, his eyes, hairline and shoulders appearing as dark patches. Given the figure’s body position, Urry and her museum colleagues believe it to be Cézanne himself.

Source : CNN