There is a mystery now revealed about Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s famous painting “The Blue Room,” as scientists and artists have uncovered a hidden portrait of a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand uncovered underneath the famous painting, according to reports in Associated Press that was published on MSN, The Guardian, and ABC News today (June 17). For more on this mysterious news story visit http://www.msn.com, http://www.theguardian.com, or http://www.abcnews.go.com.
“For Spanish artist Pablo Picasso, 1901 was a pivotal time to experiment and find his own unique style. At just 19 years old, he was living in Paris, painting furiously and dirt poor, so it wasn't unusual for him to take one canvas and reuse it to paint a fresh idea,” added ABC News that covered the Associated Press news story. “Now scientists and art experts are revealing they've found a hidden painting beneath the surface of one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces, "The Blue Room." Using advances in infrared imagery, they have uncovered a hidden portrait of a bow-tied man with his face resting on his hand,” according to the report.
“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. Curators and conservators revealed the discovery of the portrait for the first time to The Associated Press last week,” added the report on ABC News today.
“Experts long suspected there might be something under the surface of "The Blue Room," which has been part of The Phillips Collection since 1927. Brushstrokes on the piece clearly don't match the composition that depicts a woman bathing in Picasso's studio,” added the report. “A conservator noted the odd brushstrokes in a 1954 letter, but it wasn't until the 1990s that an X-ray of the painting first revealed a fuzzy image of something under the picture. It wasn't clear, though, that it was a portrait,” adds ABC News.
"It's really one of those moments that really makes what you do special," said Patricia Favero, the conservator at The Phillips Collection who pieced together the best infrared image yet of the man's face, added the news segment. "The second reaction was, 'Well, who is it?' We are still working on answering that question," added Favero in the report. “Scholars have ruled out the possibility that it was a self-portrait. One possible figure is the Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who hosted Picasso's first show in 1901. But there's no documentation and no clues left on the canvas, so the research continues,” according to the AP news story.
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 under the surface. A technical analysis confirmed the hidden portrait is a work Picasso likely painted just before "The Blue Room," curators said. “Since the portrait was discovered, conservators have been using other technology to scan the painting for further insights. Favero has been collaborating with other experts to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and X-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to identify and map the colors of the hidden painting. They would like to recreate a digital image approximating the colors Picasso used,” adds the report.
Curators are planning the first exhibit focused on "The Blue Room" as a seminal work in Picasso's career for 2017, added the report. “It will examine the revelation of the man's portrait beneath the painting, as well as other Picasso works and his engagement with other artists. For now, "The Blue Room" is part of a tour to South Korea through early 2015 as the research continues,” according to AP. “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,” according to the report.
"When he had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it," Phillips curator Susan Behrends Frank told the AP, according to ABC describing how Picasso had hurriedly painted "The Blue Room" over another complete picture. "He could not afford to acquire new canvases every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive." Dorothy Kosinski, the director of The Phillips Collection, said new knowledge about Picasso and his process can be discovered through the high-tech collaboration among museums, adds AP. In other words, Staten island arts fans the mystery of hidden man underneath the painting is still indeed a mystery.