It's a mystery that's fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso's career while he was working in
Curators and conservators revealed their findings for the first time to The Associated Press last week. Over the past five years, experts from The Phillips Collection,
"It's really one of those moments that really makes what you do special," said
In 2008, improved infrared imagery revealed for the first time a man's bearded face resting on his hand with three rings on his fingers. He's dressed in a jacket and bow tie. A technical analysis confirmed the hidden portrait is a work Picasso likely painted just before "
Conservators long suspected there might be something under the surface of "
"When he had an idea, you know, he just had to get it down and realize it," curator
Scholars are researching who this man might be and why Picasso painted him. They have ruled out the possibility that it was a self-portrait. One possible figure is the
Favero has been collaborating with other experts to scan the painting with multi-spectral imaging technology and x-ray fluorescence intensity mapping to try to identify and map the colors of the hidden painting. They would like to recreate a digital image approximating the colors Picasso used.
Curators are planning the first exhibit focused on "
For now, "
Hidden pictures have been found under other important Picasso paintings. A technical analysis of "La Vie" at the
"Our audiences are hungry for this. It's kind of detective work. It's giving them a doorway of access that I think enriches, maybe adds mystery, while allowing them to be part of a piecing together of a puzzle," she said. "The more we can understand, the greater our appreciation is of its significance in Picasso's life."
Phillips Collection: http://www.phillipscollection.org
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