Behind the Blue

The Blue Room by Pablo Picasso Credit: The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC
The Blue Room by Pablo Picasso Credit: The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

A hidden painting has been found by scientists beneath the brush strokes of The Blue Room, a 1901 Picasso artwork. The Blue Room has been the subject of exploration since 2008 by experts from the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware’s Winterthur Museum. Improved infrared imagery has now allowed them to see a man wearing a jacket and bow tie, resting his bearded face on his hand with three rings on his fingers.

Infrared Camera at Phillips Collection focused on The Blue Room by Pablo Picasso Credit: Evan Vucci/AP Images
Infrared Camera used at The Phillips Collection. Photo credit: Evan Vucci/AP Images
Patricia Favero, associate conservator at The Phillips Collection, shows off an image of a man found underneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, "The Blue Room," on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Washington.  Credit:  Evan Vucci/AP Images
Patricia Favero, associate conservator at The Phillips Collection, shows off an image of a man found underneath one of Picasso’s first masterpieces, “The Blue Room,” on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, in Washington. Credit: Evan Vucci/AP Images
The bearded man lurking beneath the surface of The Blue Room Credit:  Evan Vucci/AP Images
The bearded man lurking beneath the surface of The Blue Room Credit: Evan Vucci/AP Images

Picasso could not afford to acquire new canvasses during his “Blue Period”. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive. This is not the first time a hidden image has been found beneath a Picasso artwork.   Conservators have found a portrait of a mustached man beneath Picasso’s painting “Woman Ironing”at the Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan.

Woman Ironing, Paris 1904 by Pablo Picasso. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Woman Ironing, Paris 1904 by Pablo Picasso. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Infrared images taken by John K. Kelaney reveal  details about the underlying work beneath Woman Ironing that had previously gone undetected.
Infrared images taken by John K. Kelaney reveal details about the underlying work beneath Woman Ironing that had previously gone undetected.

Neither one of the hidden works depicts self-portraits.  It’s still a mystery whom Pablo Picasso was painting… keeping the art world and Picasso fans guessing.

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