It likely became submerged in the thick paint of the foreground due to Van Gogh's tendency to paint outside. It is missing its abdomen and thorax and was discovered 128 years after it was first painted.
Picture: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art via AP
Julián Zugazagoitia, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art director, told the Kansas City Star:
Olive Trees is a beloved painting at the Nelson-Atkins, and this scientific study only adds to our understanding of its richness.
Van Gogh worked outside in the elements, and we know that he, like other plein air artists, dealt with wind and dust, grass and trees, and flies and grasshoppers.