Scientists have discovered that one of Rembrandt’s most famous works of art, “Old Man in Military Costume”, was painted on top of another painting, according to NBC News. They are in the process of using special technology to probe underneath the surface painting to see exactly what is underneath. The 380-year-old artwork, which now resides at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, was previously examined using infrared, neutron and conventional X-ray methods, but researchers were unable to see behind the top coat.
It is a shame that this secret painting, by the famed Dutch artist, had to remain hidden for so long. But as strange as it may seem today, the practice of artists creating one painting over another wasn’t that unusual during Rembrandt’s time. Some artists did it to save money on canvases.
Matthias Alfeld from the University of Antwerp, believes the sophisticated X-ray techniques scientists are now employing are the best way to try to parse through the layers to see what lies beneath.
As Live Science reports, “Alfeld and an international team used macro X-ray fluorescence analysis to examine a mock-up of Rembrandt’s original, created by museum intern Andrea Sartorius, who used paints with the same chemical composition as those used by the Dutch master. Sartorius painted one portrait on the canvas and then an imitation of “Old Man in Military Costume” on top”.
If scientists are able to reveal the underpainting it will be very exciting for art lovers around the world. After all, it isn’t every day that the public gets to see a “new” Rembrandt.