June 19, 2014
Pictured above is Pablo Picasso's Blue Room, painted In 1901, during the artist's blue period. Experts have authenticated a new painting by Picasso—hidden beneath the existing work, as reported by the BBC.
A team of scientists and conservators at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC uncovered the lost masterpiece, under the painting they had owned since 1927, with the help of infrared technology. The newly discovered work, a portrait of an unidentified man dressed in a bow tie, resting his head on his hand, dates to the artist’s Blue Period (1900–04), when he was living in Paris.
This is the portrait hiding beneath the surface of The Blue Room. It is visible via infrared technology.
In an interview with the AP, curator Susan Behrends Frank explained why the artist painted over a completed work: “He could not afford to acquire new canvasses every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive.”
“It’s really one of those moments that really makes what you do special,” conservator Patricia Favero told the BBC, in describing what it was like to first see the missing portrait.
Experts from Phillips, the National Gallery of Art, Cornell University, and Delaware’s Winterthur Museum have been examining the painting since 2008. Conservators first suspected that there might be another picture below The Blue Room‘s surface in 1954, based on the brushstrokes, which didn’t match the completed image of a woman bathing, depicted in the painting.
In the 20th century, an X-ray confirmed their suspicions, but the image was fuzzy and could not be clearly identified. Thanks to technological advances, the canvas’s previous vertical composition can be seen for the first time in over 110 years.
In the picture, above, the image of the man is clearly revealed. All pictures courtesy of the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC.
Other lost Picassos have been found under existing works through the years.
Though The Blue Room is still being analyzed, there are plans for the painting to travel to South Korea next year. When it returns to the US, there will be a 2017 exhibit of the painting and the secret portrait beneath it.