Must Reads

Man Emerges From Picasso's Painting 'The Blue Room'

Scientists and art experts found a hidden painting beneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, The Blue Room, thanks to advances in infrared technology. Here, associate conservator Patricia Favero of The Phillips Collection points to a detail in the image. i i

Scientists and art experts found a hidden painting beneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, The Blue Room, thanks to advances in infrared technology. Here, associate conservator Patricia Favero of The Phillips Collection points to a detail in the image. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Evan Vucci/AP
Scientists and art experts found a hidden painting beneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, The Blue Room, thanks to advances in infrared technology. Here, associate conservator Patricia Favero of The Phillips Collection points to a detail in the image.

Scientists and art experts found a hidden painting beneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, The Blue Room, thanks to advances in infrared technology. Here, associate conservator Patricia Favero of The Phillips Collection points to a detail in the image.

Evan Vucci/AP

A bearded man lurks beneath the surface of a famous Picasso painting. That's the image brought to us by curators who used new technology to find details of a portrait the artist painted over when he created his famous The Blue Room in 1901.

The painting's surface depicts a scene in Pablo Picasso's studio in Paris, with a woman bathing between a window and a table. But a different scene lies underneath, as infrared and other analysis shows a man in a bow tie staring out from the canvas, his head propped on his hand.

The Blue Room is at The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. Researchers from the museum and other institutions recently showed the AP the newly uncovered details of what lies beneath the painting.

The Blue Room, one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces, sits in a vertical position in front of an infared camera at the Phillips Collection in Washington on Tuesday. i i

The Blue Room, one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces, sits in a vertical position in front of an infared camera at the Phillips Collection in Washington on Tuesday. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Evan Vucci/AP
The Blue Room, one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces, sits in a vertical position in front of an infared camera at the Phillips Collection in Washington on Tuesday.

The Blue Room, one of Pablo Picasso's first masterpieces, sits in a vertical position in front of an infared camera at the Phillips Collection in Washington on Tuesday.

Evan Vucci/AP

"It's really one of those moments that really makes what you do special," Phillips conservator Patricia Favero tells the AP. "The second reaction was, 'Well, who is it?' We're still working on answering that question."

The likely reason the canvas was reused, curators say, was that Picasso didn't have the money to use a new canvas for each new work early in his career.

The AP says this isn't the first time a different work has been found beneath a Picasso:

"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."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.