The only known self-portrait of Georges Seurat has been discovered more than 130 years after he concealed it in one of his last paintings, Young woman powdering herself (around 1888-1890)
Recent technical examination has revealed that a bust-length self-portrait of Seurat at his easel initially featured in the upper left-hand corner of the painting.
The voluptuous sitter in this work was Seurat’s twenty-year-old mistress Madeleine Knobloch.
A long-standing myth surrounding this work stated that in the mirror on the wall was a self-portrait of Seurat in the act of painting Madeleine.
However, a friend, who was unaware of the intimate relationship between the painter and his model, said that it looked comical and Seurat decided to paint over his self-portrait before the painting went on view.
Thanks to advance in imaging technology, it is now possible to see the layers of paint under the surface and prove that the story is true.
You can read the full report on ‘Seurat’s Hidden Self-Portrait’ by Aviva Burnstock and Karen Serres in the current issue of the Burlington Magazine.