A previously-unknown sketch believed to be of Vincent van Gogh has been found hidden inside an artist’s 130-year-old scrapbook.
The postcard-sized sketch -- set to go on public display next month -- was located in an album of 858 drawings by French artist Emile Bernard, who was a close friend of the legendary painter, The Telegraph reported Monday.
The album, sold by the artist's son-in-law to the Kunsthalle Bremen museum in Germany in 1970, has been examined by visiting scholars for five decades, but they all failed to spot the drawing.
The sketch shows a man, believed to be the bearded painter, seated in a Paris café with two bottles of wine on the table, next to two women thought to be prostitutes, The Telegraph reports. It is believed that Bernard may have been trying to place Van Gogh between the temptations of alcohol and women.
Dr. Dorothee Hansen, who discovered the sketch during preparations for an exhibit of Bernard’s work, said she was trying to organize the scrapbook as the 858 images appeared in no particular order.
"I focused on portraits and faces. I didn't recognize it as Van Gogh at first; there was no inscription on it,” she said. “I looked into persons who Bernard was working with or was friends with at that time and looked at the sketch again and again and suspected it might be Van Gogh. I studied some self-portraits of Van Gogh of this period and it was very convincing.”
The sketch will go on display from February 7 to May 31 to coincide with the timing of what would have been Van Gogh's 162nd birthday.