Picasso's 'The Blue Room' masterpiece reveals hidden man in bow-tie

By Daniel S Levine,

Pablo Picasso’s work still mystifies art historians and fans of his work, decades after his death and over a century since he began working. Part of his mystique is that every time you look at one of his works, you see something you never noticed before. Researchers recently took a second look at his early masterpiece The Blue Room with infrared technology and found someone no one had seen before.

Experts at The Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware’s Winterthur Museum have been examining the 1901 painting for the past five years and announced the findings to the Associated Press. The painting was made at the start of Picasso’s career, while he was still in Paris and trying to establish himself.

After using infrared technology, they discovered a vertical portrait of a man in a bow-tie behind the more famous horizontal painting. The portrait, made using grey tones, is of an unknown man.

“It’s really one of those moments that really makes what you do special,” Patricia Favero, the conservator at The Phillips Collection, told the AP. “The second reaction was, ‘well, who is it?’ We’re still working on answering that question.”

image via Twitter from BBC World

The painting was first discovered in 2008, but as infrared technology got better, experts continued to refine the infrared image of the work. Now, they have created the most complete view of it, showing the main wearing a suit and three rings on his fingers.

The Blue Room has been in The Phillips Collection in Washington since 1927. This is also not the first time that a full painting has been discovered behind a more famous Picasso. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s La Vie was found to have an alternate version of the work under the completed picture.

Picasso remains one of the giants of the art world. He was back in the news last week, when it was announced that the massive Le Tricorne piece is moving from New York’s Four Seasons to the New York Historical Society.

 
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