Some classic paintings have surprised us with their “secrets”—forgotten paintings and images concealed for centuries until restoration techniques or new technologies revealed them. Surreal but true, these discoveries have left the art world breathless.
10. La Republique Figure, The Wood Sawyers
Using infrared reflectography, an image of a head was exposed above the left shoulder of one of the men in Jean-Francois Millet’s The Wood Sawyers. With further assessments and thorough scanning, the other parts of the hidden image were completely revealed. It was the figure of the famous French statue La Republique.
Alfred Sensier, the artist’s biographer, later confirmed that this image was originally created as an entry for a certain state competition. Unfortunately, it didn’t earn a prize in that contest. So Millet painted The Wood Sawyers over the original picture. He reused the same canvas simply to save money.
Other details found by the scan were some folded parts, tears, and dark holes in the hidden image. These were probably caused by adjusting the original canvas to its new size.