Press Release

Hyperspectral near-infrared imaging reveals beneath of Picasso’s painting

The study of Pablo Picasso

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.

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