Find other artwork under Picasso’s paintings

By performing a series of spectroscopy scans on La Misrereuse accroupie, experts discovered new details and provided insight into the creative process of the artist ahead of time – Picasso.

In 1957, when Pablo Picasso was in his teens, he thought that X-ray technology could one day discover a lost work beneath one of his first paintings. Today, that prediction has come true – although the technology now far exceeds conventional X-rays.

Using ultra-modern tools to study one of Picasso’s Blue Period paintings, the researchers not only discovered new details hidden in the work of art, but also went into the process. creation of famous artist. This investigation in many ways focused on the painting La Misrereuse accroupie, also known as Crouching Woman. This work was drawn in 1902 and is currently owned by the Art Gallery of Ontario. La Misrereuse accroupie shows that this radical artist was inspired by the essential lines of a basic landscape painting painted by an unknown artist.

The analysis also showed that many of the incremental changes to the woman’s posture are depicted in the picture. The research team said the results of their analysis today at a meeting of the Association for the Advancement of American Science in Austin, Texas 2018: “We often look at an image in the way that it was. shaped from the beginning. But with these analytical images, we can better understand the artist and the creative process, ”said Marc Walton, professor of material science and engineering studies at Northwestern University.


To investigate, John Delaney from the National Gallery of Art performed a series of spectroscopy scans on La Misrereuse accroupie. Delaney’s optical reflection spectrum scans the image at different wavelengths, from near-infrared to infrared. These devices helped reveal the exact pigments that Picasso used.

A team of Northwestern engineers and materials scientists conducted additional scans with portable X-ray fluorescence equipment, stimulating the elements of each layer of pigment in the picture. The results have produced detailed grayscale maps so that we can see the incremental changes that Picasso has made for his inner work.

The overall work has uncovered a landscape previously known and unrelated to the topic of Picasso’s painting, with particularly novel details. It shows the sudden presence of a hand in a rather awkward position holding a plate: “We can see that he is cleaning the drawing and fixing the position of the fingers” – Mr. Walton , who helped develop the X-ray scanner, adds.