Collection highlights

Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973)

Pablo Picasso, Mother and Child by the Sea

1902 Oil on canvas 81.7 x 59.8 cm


Profile

Picasso was born 1881 in Málaga, a port city located in the southern region of Spain. Under the supervision of his father who was an art teacher, Picasso started to show his artistic talent from his younger days. Eventually, he began his full-fledged training of painting at the art school in Barcelona.

Starting from the autumn of 1900, Picasso travelled repetitiously between Paris and Barcelona. After losing his best friend, Casagemas due to his suicide in 1901, he started to depict people at lower levels of society mainly in blue colors. The style of this era is called the “blue period”.

After moving his residence to the atelier, “Le Bateau Lavoir” in Montmartre, Picasso eventually changed his color tone to the “rose period” with warmer colors. Then Picasso’s pictorial space changed dramatically which eventually lead to the birth of “Les Demoiselles d'Avignon” in 1907. During this period, “cubism” was invented through the competition between Picasso and Braque. This is an advanced version of Cézanne’s attempt in grasping geometrical form. This reconstruction in an abstract form within flat canvas was a revolution in the twentieth century paintings.

Picasso’s painting styles went through various changes after the cubism including “neoclassicism”, “surrealism” and an expression protesting tragic aspects of war such as his magnum opus, “Guernica”.With his superhuman creativity, Picasso produced humongous amount of works that is not limited to paintings, but also to sculpture, prints, ceramics and etc.

The Pablo Picasso collection of the Pola Museum of Art

Several artworks from the collections of the Pola Museum of Art

Pablo Picasso,
Mother and Child by the Sea,
1902

Pablo Picasso,
Nude,
1909

Pablo Picasso,
Head of a Girl in a Hat Decorated with Grapes,
1913

Pablo Picasso,
Motherhood,
1921

Pablo Picasso,
Paulo as Pierrot with Flowers,
1929

Pablo Picasso,
Flower Seller,
1937

The Study of Mother and Child by the Sea

In 2018 Hakone, Japan—Hyperspectral infrared imaging conducted by John Delaney, senior imaging scientist, National Gallery of Art, Washington, of Pablo Picasso’s Mother and Child by the Sea (1902), a Blue Period painting in the collection of the Pola Museum of Art, Japan, revealed portions of printed text in French similar to newsprint. Using the readable text, Keiko Imai, chief curator, Pola Museum of Art, was able to identify the source of the text as an issue of the French daily newspaper Le Journal published on January 18, 1902. While the reason for the presence of newsprint in the paint layers is a mystery, the discovery is significant for Picasso scholars due to the proximity of the date to the artist’s move from Paris to Barcelona. The study also provided more information about a prior paint composition seen in the x-radiograph. The infrared images also show another earlier signature by the artist in the opposite orientation.

The recent study of Mother and Child by the Sea was initially planned to provide clearer images of the compositions believed to be present underneath the painting’s surface, which had previously been identified by Hoenigswald in x-radiographs taken in the 1990s, and more recently in 2005 by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Pola Museum. However, hyperspectral infrared imaging conducted by Delaney in April 2018 immediately revealed an unexpected finding—the reverse imprint of French newspaper articles. Imaging clearly showed the words “l’Automobile” and “président.” After searching in the archives of Le Journal, known to be read frequently by Picasso, Imai was quickly able to identify an issue from January 18, 1902, which was an exact match of the text visible in the hyperspectral images. Exactly why that newsprint was placed on the canvas cannot be confirmed; it may have been used by the artist to cover previous layers before he painted another layer or the final composition of the mother and child.

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Infrared false color image of newspaper
John Delaney, National Gallery of Art, Washington
Keiko Imai, Pola Museum of Art