Discovery of a mysterious landscape under a Picasso of the blue period

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Découverte d'un paysage mystérieux sous un Picasso de la période bleueVIDEO - An X-ray spectroscopic examination allowed researchers to discover a sketch in La Misereuse Crouching (1902) by the Spanish Grand Master, a painting held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada.

The Squat Squatting by Pablo Picasso, kept at the Ontario Museum of Fine Arts in Canada, hid a pretty secret. Art historians, using infrared spectroscopic technology, have just discovered that the oil of the Spanish master concealed a mysterious design. On the shot made, we discover a hill topped by a rotunda kiosk or a small temple. Stairs and balustrades seem to enclose rows of trees.

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The portrait of Picasso covering this landscape was made in 1902, at the beginning of the painter's blue period. It has been twenty-six years since the specialists of Picasso's work speculated that a mystery surrounded the genesis of this work. During a restoration undertaken in 1992, the experts had already noticed, with the naked eye, that the texture of the surface of certain parts of the painting did not seem in agreement with the brushstrokes of the main figure. Sandra Webster-Cook, curator of the Ontario Museum of Fine Arts, reinforced this first insight of the experts by extending her analysis to chromaticism. "There are also colors that cross the cracks. They suggested either a change of composition or a reused canvas, "she said.

"Picasso may have used the landscape as a source of inspiration, especially for the shape of the beggar."

Marc Walton, professor of art history at Northwestern University

The director of the research team, Marc Walton, a professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, explained to the German newspaper Der Spiegel why x-ray analysis is of fundamental interest for the understanding of Picasso's art. "This technology allows us to penetrate the artist's mind. We can better understand, for example, the stages of his creative process, "he says.

The researchers were able to observe through painting the distribution of chemical elements in the oil. "It gives us a better idea of ​​how this layered structure has developed," says Marc Walton. For example, some pigments are only in one layer and not in another. Picasso may have used the landscape as a source of inspiration, especially for the form of the beggar. It is believed that the hills, in the background, would have served as a matrix to the outline of his back.

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Le parc du labyrinthe d'Horta, à Barcelone, qui a pu inspirer le paysage.
The Horta labyrinth park in Barcelona, ​​which inspired the landscape. - Photo Credits: FLickr Capture

We still do not know who is the author of this landscape. At first the historians had suggested the name of the Catalan artist Joaquin Torres Garcia. Today, several specialists think that the drawing represents the park of the labyrinth of Horta, in Barcelona. "We know that Santiago Rusinol, the leader of the Catalan modernist movement, painted this site, and we know that other young Catalan painters of the early 20th century would also have painted this site," says Kenneth Brummel, deputy curator of the museum. Fine Arts Ontario.

● The discovery after an X-ray analysis of a drawing under The Squat Squatting of Pablo Picasso


Source: © Discovery of a mysterious landscape under a Picasso of the blue period

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