The art world is buzzing with excitement thanks to scientists that have revealed a mysterious portrait underneath Picasso’s famous painting, The Blue Room. Scientists, using infrared technology on the famous painting, discovered the image of a bearded man in jacket and bow-tie resting his head on his semi-closed, ringed hand.
The 1901 masterpiece, The Blue Room, was painted during Picasso’s blue period. Picasso’s blue period was where the artist created monochromatic works using various shades of blue from 1900 to 1904. Scientists discovered that the portrait was created right before the artist painted The Blue Room. Ideas of the image being a self-portrait were quickly dismissed and specialists are still trying to figure out who the portrait could be of.
One name that is being speculated is that of Ambrose Villard, who was an art dealer who had hosted the Spanish painters first show in 1901. Of course this is all still speculation and no definitive proof has been discovered to back this up so the mystery continues to find more evidence of just who this portrait is of.
Conservator at The Phillips Collection in Washington, Patricia Favero said, “It’s really one of those moments that really makes what you do special.” Favero, the one responsible for the best infrared image of the portrait said that the second reaction was naturally asking, “Who is it?” Favero explains the answer to that question is still being worked on.
The Blue Room has been a part of The Phillips Collection since 1927 and conservators have suspected something may have been under the surface of the painting for some time. In 1954 conservators found that the brushstrokes were not matching up with the composition and it was then when the first suspicion of something being underneath the masterpiece came to light. In the 90s, suspicions were confirmed when a “fuzzy image” was seen. In 2008, thanks to technology advancement, a clearer image was found and the question arose of just who this portrait was of. Now the quest to answer the question of who this mysterious portrait is of that lies beneath Picasso’s The Blue Room is on.
This is certainly not a first for the Spanish painter as other paintings have been found beneath Picasso’s paintings. Curator and author of American Impressionists, Susan Behrends Frank explained to the AP that canvas was very expensive back then and Picasso simply did not have the funds to buy a new canvas for each new creation. “When he [Picasso] had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it.” Frank explains that Picasso has been known to paint over a finished work when inspiration hit and no other canvas was to be found.
“He could not afford to acquire new canvasses,” Frank told AP, “every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue.” Frank continues, “He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive.”
The revealing mysterious portrait that was discovered under Picasso’s masterpiece, The Blue Room, has sparked much interest in the art world. The research on the project is on continuing and curators have an exhibition planned for 2017 which will focus on The Blue Room and the mysterious portrait that lies beneath.
By Derik L. Bradshaw