What Lies Beneath Pablo Picasso's Painting 'The Blue Room'?

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Pablo Picasso's painting The Blue Room has a hidden secret and, 113 years after its completion, it's finally been revealed. But what have art experts uncovered?

PicassoPablo Picasso photographed in August, 1955. Picture: Getty - Keystone/Stringer

The painting, completed in 1901 at the start of Picasso's Parisian Blue Period, was painted on a canvas which was already occupied by a gentleman in a bow tie. The Blue Room painting shows a blonde woman bathing in a (surprise, surprise) blue tinged bedroom. Picasso's early Blue Period comprised of his blue and green tinged paintings between 1901 and 1904. 

Read More: Antonio Banderas: 'Pablo Picasso Biopic Is Back On'.

The Blue Room is a part of The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. and art experts and conservators have discovered there is another layer to the painting. As the BBC reports, the experts have used infrared technology on the painting and have revealed a reclining man underneath. The image can clearly be seen when painting is under infrared and turned on its side. 

The painting has been under investigation by numerous art and education institutions in the US since 2008. However, only with the use of advanced infrared technology have art experts been able to truly distinguish what lies beneath. The outline of a seated gentleman can be seen under the layers of paint. He is wearing a bow tie and reclining with one hand resting on his cheek. One of his fingers rests on the side of his face, in a contemplative like pose, with a ring clearly showing on one of his fingers.

So who is this mysterious, dapper gentleman? We don't know but art experts are desperate to discover his identity. Conservator Patricia Favero said "We're still working on answering that question."

Read More: Lloyd Webber Withdraws Picasso Painting.

It was typical, especially during times of financial difficulties, for artists to reuse their canvas and resources. As this was one of Picasso's earlier works, it is hardly surprising the canvas was previously used. Indeed, this is not the first time an original has been discovered under a well known Picasso painting. In 1989 a technical analysis of Picasso's A Woman Ironing revealed a moustached man hidden beneath layers of paint, as the Guggenheim website explains. 

Susan Behrends, the curator of The Phillips Collection, spoke of the financial difficulties Picasso faced. She explained how Picasso "could not afford to acquire new canvasses every time he had an idea that he wanted to pursue. He worked sometimes on cardboard because canvas was so much more expensive.''

Research on the painting will continue and The Phillips Collection is planning a special exhibition for 2017 which will focus on the painting and its hidden layer. 


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