A Study of Picasso\’s Painting Materials and Techniques in Six of His Early Portraits

Year: 2016

Authors: Sessa C., Jiménez de Garnica R., Rosi F., Fontana R., Garcia J.F.

Autors Affiliation: Analytical Chemistry Department, University of Barcelona, Marti i Franques, II, Barcelona, ES-08028, Spain; Conservació Preventiva i Restauracio, Fundació Museu Picasso, c/Montcada, 15-23, Barcelona, ES-08003, Spain; Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie Molecolari (CNR-ISTM), Via Elce di sotto, 8, Perugia, IT-06123, Italy; SMAArt Center, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy; Istituto Nazionale di Ottica (CNR-INO), Largo E. Fermi 6, Florence, IT-50123, Italy

Abstract: Six early portraits from 1895 to 1900/1 by Pablo Picasso were comprehensively examined using complementary non-destructive techniques provided by the MOLAB Transnational Access Service as part of the European Cultural Heritage Advanced Research Infrastructures (CHARISMA) project. The paintings were selected by the Museu Picasso, Barcelona, as representative of Picasso\’s formative years. This paper presents a compendium of the results from the extensive analysis campaign, which involved meticulous inspection of the stratigraphy of each portrait and elucidation of the palette used by the artist in his early career. Subsurface imaging (X-ray radiography and infrared reflectography) was used to guide analytical data interpretation. Prussian blue, cobalt blue, ivory black, lead white, natural earths, vermilion, chromium-based pigments, and different fillers were identified in the paintings. With this simple palette, Picasso was able to play with the colors to create different shades and tones. Careful inspection of the brushstrokes and material distribution highlighted important details, providing a better understanding of the creative process behind the portraits studied and young Picasso\’s modus operandi. Furthermore, all the portraits were found to have been painted over earlier compositions. © 2016,


Volume: 55 (4)      Pages from: 198  to: 216

More Information: Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, MICYT, PP7-22833 CHARISMA-MOLAB. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, MICYT, FPU/AP2009-2575. Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, MICYT, HAR2011-29654/HAR-2014-56526. – The authors are grateful for financial support to the Spanish Ministerio de Educaci?n y Ciencia ([the details of the projects that financial supported the study are correct] HAR2011-29654/HAR-2014-56526 and the PhD Grant FPU/AP2009-2575); Charisma ? European Community project PP7-22833 CHARISMA-MOLAB.
KeyWords: creative process; infrared reflectography; MOLAB; non-destructive techniques; Palette; Picasso; spectroscopic analysis
DOI: 10.1080/01971360.2016.1235438

Citations: 6
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