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Art researchers are using technology to uncover hidden layers in some of Pablo Picasso’s paintings.
The National Gallery of Art in Washington DC found a newsprint and another painting underneath Picasso’s “Mother and Child by the Sea.” Using hyperspectral imaging technique, researchers examined the way light behaves on materials like paint. Images beneath layers of paint can be detected through this technique.
The researchers found some text from a French newspaper, which Picasso supposedly read back in the day, on the canvas. The newsprint’s presence seemed to explain the wrinkled texture in some areas of the painting.
However, it remains unclear why Picasso used newsprint on the canvas. Some assumptions were that Picasso could be concealing his mistakes or masking out a different painting altogether.
Apart from the newsprint, another painting was also uncovered using hyperspectral imaging. The presence of this first painting has been known since 2005, but it was only recently that a clear picture has been produced: a woman seated beside an absinthe / ˈæbˌsɪnθ / bottle.
Researchers speculated that Picasso reused canvases because he was broke, so acquiring a new canvas every time he wanted to paint was not an option.
Picasso’s “Mother and Child by the Sea” is not the sole painting that art researchers have examined closely using technology. In February, they found two paintings underneath his “The Crouching Beggar” through x-ray techniques. The first was a landscape scene created by a different artist. Then, over the first painting was believed to be an earlier version of “The Crouching Beggar.”
Researchers believe that using technology on Picasso’s works can help people understand the artist’s personal style better.