A hidden Rembrandt etching has been uncovered and brought to light after being found in the print room of the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

The print was originally thought to have been a copy of a work by Rembrandt, but new research has established that not only is the painting original, it is also one-of-a-kind.

The portrait, which depicts Amsterdam preacher Jan Cornelis Sylvius, is the only known version to have been printed in red ink. Dr Tico Seifert, the Gallery’s Senior Curator for Northern European Art, realised during his research that the etching was not merely a copy, but the work of the Dutch artist himself.

“I became suspicious once I found that all the known copies of this print are in reverse – which this one obviously wasn’t,” he said. “With mounting excitement I made further comparisons and it became increasingly clear that I was not dealing with the work of a copyist but looking at an etching by Rembrandt himself.

“I then contacted colleagues in Amsterdam to find out about impressions in red ink, which are generally very rare. To my great surprise and delight they told me it is a unique print.”

Rembrandt lived in the 17th century and is considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers in the history of art. The Portrait of Jan Cornelis Silvius will  be on display to the public from today, Wednesday 22 January. The rediscovered version will be shown alongside an impression of the same image in black ink, which shows further reworking and was probably printed later in the eighteenth century.