New scanning technique reveals secrets behind great paintings
in the US
have used a new scanning technique to discover a painting underneath one of
Pablo Picasso's great works of art, the Crouching Woman (La Misereuse
Accroupie). Underneath the oil painting is a
landscape of Barcelona
which, it turns out, Picasso used as the basis of his masterpiece.
The new x-ray
fluorescence system is cheaper than alternative art scanning systems - and it
is portable, making it available to any gallery that wants it. Details were
revealed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement
for Science in Austin, Texas.
Woman is a painting from Picasso's blue period. What is remarkable is that the
landscape painting beneath - probably by a student artist - is turned 90
degrees. The outline of the hills in the background becomes the crouching
woman's back. She takes on the shape and form of the Catalan countryside.
Kenneth Brummel, a curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, said that he was
"excited" when he first learned what lay underneath the Crouching
Woman. "It helps to date the painting and it also helps to determine where
the painting was made," he told BBC News. "But it also gives a sense
of the artists with whom the painter was engaging. And these insights help us
ask new, more interesting and scientifically more accurate questions regarding
an artist, their process and how they arrived at the forms that we see on the
surface of a painting." Picasso is known to have painted over a number of
his blue period paintings and Mr Brummel
said he was pleased to see that the Crouching Woman was like these other works.
Francesca Casadio, from the Centre for Scientific Studies in the Arts
in Chicago, who
is among those leading the project, hopes that the widespread use of the
scanners will increase our understanding of artists, their thought processes
and the way they worked. "Many more paintings are waiting to tell their
secrets and with our scanning system we can help them talk to us more,"
she told BBC News. Until now scanning was only for the greatest of great works
of art - and for the wealthiest galleries. This new
system can be used by anyone to find the story behind any painting they are
17 February 2018