Can you find the hidden Picasso?

  • Updated: June 20, 2014 - 9:00 PM
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"The Blue Room," one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces at The Phillips Collection, on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Washington. Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath the painting. Advances in infrared imagery reveal a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand, with three rings on his fingers. Now the question that conservators at The Phillips Collection in Washington hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso’s career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Curators and scientists revealed they’ve found a hidden painting beneath the surface of one of Pablo Picasso’s earliest masterpieces from 1901, “The Blue Room,” at the Phillips Collection in Washington. Using advances in infrared imagery, they have uncovered a hidden portrait of a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand. Now the question that conservators hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research. Experts suspected there might be something under the surface because the brush strokes don’t match the composition that depicts a woman bathing in Picasso’s studio. “When he had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it,” curator Susan Behrends Frank said. “He could not afford to acquire new canvasses every time he had an idea. … He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive.” Over the past five years, experts from the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware’s Winterthur Museum have developed a clearer image of the mystery picture. Experts are working to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and X-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to map the colors of the hidden painting. Dorothy Kosinski, the director of the Phillips Collection, said new knowledge about Picasso can be discovered through such high-tech collaboration. “It’s kind of detective work. It’s giving them a doorway of access that I think enriches, maybe adds mystery, while allowing them to be part of a piecing together of a puzzle,” she said. “The more we can understand, the greater our appreciation is of its significance in Picasso’s life.” Associated Press



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  • This undated handout image provided by The Phillips Collection shows an infrared image of Pablo Picasso’s "The Blue Room," painted in 1901. Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath the painting. Advances in infrared imagery reveal a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand, with three rings on his fingers. Now the question that conservators at The Phillips Collection in Washington hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso’s career while he was working in Paris at the start of...

  • This undated handout image provided by The Phillips Collection shows the overlay of Picasso’s The Blue Room, painted in 1901. Scientists and art experts have found a hidden painting beneath the painting. Advances in infrared imagery reveal a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand, with three rings on his fingers. Now the question that conservators at The Phillips Collection in Washington hope to answer is simply: Who is he? It’s a mystery that’s fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso’s career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive...

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