The hidden secret of a Picasso masterpiece revealed

The Crouching Woman under the portable x-ray The Crouching Woman under the portable x-ray Art Gallery of Ontario (@AGO)

RESEARCHERS in the USA have developed a portable x-ray device ideal for use in art galleries and its first revelation concerns a masterpiece by Picasso.

During his Blue Period, the Spanish artist had a tendency to overpaint earlier work - even that not done by him - and when his famous Crouching Woman (La Misereuse Accroupie) was placed under the scanner, scientists were both surprised and delighted to see that this painting was a perfect example of his activity.

In this case, a landscape of the Catalan Hills had been turned on its side to become the vertical Crouching Woman and the actual contour of the hills was used to outline the woman’s back.

A number of paintings under paintings have been revealed in the past but up until now, the cost of the machines has been so high that only the richest art galleries and museums have been able to afford them, but now the portable machines, developed by the Centre for Scientific Studies in the Arts in Chicago should be available – at least on loan – to even the smallest of galleries.

The discovery of earlier paintings in this manner helps art historians to date the paintings and also gives an insight into the work of the artist.

This bit of news will be welcomed by the National Geographic TV channel as it will no doubt be used to highlight their documentary series on the artist which stars Antonio Banderas.

John Smith

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