Hidden painting found behind Pablo Picasso's painting The Crouching Beggar

Hidden painting found behind Pablo Picasso's painting The Crouching Beggar

Pablo Picasso painted over another work done by an unknown Barcelona artist in order to create one of his most famous "blue period" works, new research reveals.

The Art Galley of Ontario, where the painting is now on display, teamed up with Northwestern University's Centre for Scientific Studies in the Arts in Chicago to scan some of Picasso's work with X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and other imaging technology.

An worldwide team of scientists has used cutting edge imaging techniques to reveal the tricks of the trade employed by the modern master painter Pablo Picasso and provide unique insight into the artist's creative process. However, a team of scientists at the Northwestern University in IL recently found another secret artwork that shows how the artist painted over his own work as well.

Materials science and engineering professor at Northwestern University, Marc Walton, told AAAS it was known an underpainting existed, but nobody had identified it. Picasso painted over the previous work after rotating it 90 degrees to the right and incorporated some of the contours and features of the landscape into his own final composition, blending cliff edges into the woman's back, for instance.

Curators of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada, where the painting now hangs, made a decision to scan the masterpiece with the help of sophisticated x-rays after they noticed unusual textures of the Crouching Beggar.

'[It] became clear to me that the arm hidden under the visible surface of La Misereuse Accroupie is the same as the proper right arm of a crouching woman in a Picasso watercolour recently sold at auction, ' he said. He also made a major compositional change.

It was found by the researchers that Picasso had initially painted the woman with a right hand holding an object before covering it with her cloak in the final version.

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By closely observing La Misereuse accroupie, researchers observed distinct textures and contrasting underlying colour that peaked through the crack lines and did not match the visible composition.

In 1957, Picasso pondered whether x-ray technology might one day reveal the secrets of his technique, reports National Geographic.

The first was provided by the NGA's senior imaging scientist, John Delaney - infrared reflectance hyperspectral imaging. This system produces greyscale images showing the distribution of elements associated with various pigments of the painting.

The new technique allowed researchers to study the painting in-depth in just 24 hours.

For a more detailed understanding of the repositioned arm, scientists next investigated the painting using images generated by their X-ray fluorescence (XRF) scanner.

At its base, they found a horizontal landscape by a different (anonymous) Barcelona painter.

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