By James Bryce

A previously unknown painting by Spanish artist Francisco de Goya has been uncovered using a new X-ray technique.

The work – hidden beneath Goya’s Portrait of Don Ramon Satue – is believed to depict Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother.

Joseph Bonaparte was the King of Spain from 1808-1813 and it is thought that Goya may have covered it up to distance himself from the French regime when it was overthrown.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which will house the Satue portrait from 2013, confirmed the Goya painting is a ‘formal portrait of a man wearing uniform.’

The x-ray technique that revealed the hidden masterpiece, was developed by the University of Antwerp and the Delft University of Technology.

The x-rays cause atoms in the picture to emit their own fluorescent x-rays, which enables researchers to produce a colour map of the hidden image.

A mobile version of the x-ray scanner has been developed, to allow museums to examine artwork that is too fragile to be moved or touched.

The Portrait of Don Ramon Satue is currently on display at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.


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