Researchers from the Art Institute of Chicago have discovered a drawing hidden under a famous work by Pablo Picasso, Still Life of 1922.
Thanks to the use of X-ray technologies, a group of researchers has discovered a hidden design under one of Pablo Picasso’s most famous works.
Pablo Picasso’s drawing hidden
An unusual discovery, as the researchers of the Art Institute of Chicago defined it. The work revealed the presence of a sketch, on the back of the canvas. This depicts a jug, a cup, and a newspaper on a chair.
According to the study published in SN Applied Science, infrared images revealed that Picasso had originally represented a neoclassical still life on the canvas. He then applied a white lead-based layer on this first composition. After he created the famous painting dated February 4, 1922.
“X-ray and infrared imaging, as well as cross-sectional paint analysis, revealed details about the design and level of completion of the first Still Life. It clarified that it was indeed painted on the front of the canvas. Then Picasso covered it with a layer of white paint before painting the linear cubist still life.” Allison Langley, head of Paintings Conservation, told IFLScience.
“Picasso often reused canvases and this has been documented on works at the Art Institute and elsewhere,” Langley said. “What is surprising is that he blocked out the first composition with a layer of white paint. This is unusual in his practice. He typically painted directly on top of the earlier paint layers. Often retaining vestiges of the original forms or colors in the final painting.”
Other discoveries and hidden drawings in Picasso’s artwork
It seems that this white layer was applied with a brush. The intention was probably to block the first composition and provide a uniform surface to the subsequent 1922 painting. “An almost unusual fact in Picasso’s production, since the artist often painted directly on previous compositions, making it clear that underlying shapes would influence the final painting, “say the researchers.
Still Life was a gift by Picasso to a dear friend, the famous Gertrude Stein, novelist and art collector,
It is not the first time researchers find sketches in Picasso’s artwork. In fact, in 2018, they discovered a landscape painting under Picasso’s painting The Crouching Beggar. The modality was similar. Researchers used X-ray technology in this case too to examine with efficiency the layers of the painting.
It is not certain that the painting was Picasso’s. However, it served as contour inspiration for the Spanish painter to paint the figures on top.