Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath one of Pablo Picasso’s first masterpieces, “The Blue Room.”
Conservators have long suspected there might be something under the surface of “The Blue Room,” that depicts a nude woman bathing, which has been part of The Phillips Collection in Washington since 1927.
“This painting ‘The Blue Room’ is very important in (Picasso’s) early work. It’s considered an early Blue Period painting,” Patricia Favero, associate conservator at the Phillips, said of the period early in the artist’s career when he produced often melancholy, mostly monochromatic paintings in shades of blue. “To find this painting underneath — which we think was painted in the same year, just earlier in the year and it’s completely different in style — it gives us some insight into Picasso’s development over the course of that year.”
Using X-rays and infrared imaging, they identified the portrait of a bearded man wearing a jacket and bow tie, with his head resting on his right hand.
Scholars have ruled out the possibility that the hidden painting is a self-portrait by Picasso, the AP said. No documentation seems to exist, and no clues on the canvas reveal the man’s identity, the scholars said.
Curators and conservators have been working with a team of experts from the National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and the Winterthur Museum in Delaware to analyze the painting and try to identify the mystery man in the work.
The team hopes to figure out who the man was, but because the portrait was painted early in Picasso’s career, before he began keeping records, identifying the subject could be difficult.
“This is turn of the century Paris. This is presumably in Montmartre where Picasso had the studio, and the challenges are if there’s no documentation existing to tell us — a letter, even a drawing with an inscription — the challenge is to find a picture,” Favero said. “I’m not sure what other documentation exists in terms of papers letter other drawings. We’ve enlisted the help of other art historians and art experts to help us with that.”
Hidden pictures have been found under other important Picasso paintings. A technical analysis of “La Vie” at the Cleveland Museum of Art revealed Picasso significantly reworked the painting’s composition. And conservators found a portrait of a mustached man beneath Picasso’s painting “Woman Ironing” at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.
Picasso painting reveals hidden man
Infrared technology has revealed a hidden painting underneath Picasso’s painting, “The Blue Room.”