In the difficult world of artists, it is not uncommon to reuse paintings to save money and paint over another, even if it means hiding and losing the previous work.

Even now famous artists like Picasso have not escaped it.

One of these paintings, hidden under another painting for over a century, has come to life thanks to technology.

In 2010, X-rays found a painting under the painting "The Blind's Meal", considered one of the most important works of the artist's Blue Expressionist period.

These x-rays revealed a naked woman who has been dubbed "The Lonesome Crouching Nude".

Obviously, it was unthinkable to remove the coat of paint from the "blind man's meal" to bring out the nude.

It was therefore necessary to have recourse to modern technologies.

Learn to paint from Picasso

George Cann and Anthony Bourached, two doctoral students from University College London, have thus trained an algorithm by "feeding" it with dozens of paintings by Picasso dating from the same period.

The goal was to teach the algorithm the artist's style so that it could reproduce it.

Using the x-ray image as a guide, they attempted to restore the colors to the paint.

The researchers used in particular XRF, a fluorescence technology allowing to measure the elemental composition of a material thanks to X-rays. The algorithm then tried to reproduce the colors and the brushstrokes of the artist.

Reproduced down to the brushstrokes

Once the painting was reconstituted by the algorithm, the work was 3D printed on a canvas in order to create a realistic “imitation”.

“It's quite disturbing to see the brushstrokes, the color and the way the lights reflect on the work,” says George Cann, one of the two UCL graduate students who worked on making his paintings. colors on the board.

According to the recreation carried out by the algorithm, Picasso painted the crouching woman in tones characteristic of her blue period.

“I think Picasso would have appreciated our forensic studies,” says Anthony Bourached.

He himself said: “I have just painted the images that appeared before my eyes.

It's up to others to find the hidden meanings. ”


Interestingly, this crouching woman also appears in another Picasso painting titled "La Vie".

"The fact that the woman in The Lonesome Crouching Nude is also in La Vie, and some of his sketches, suggests that Picasso may have had an affinity with this woman," says George Cann.

The Lonesome Crouching Nude isn't the first hidden painting from Picasso's Blue Period to be revealed.

In 2014, infrared imagery unveiled a portrait of a bearded man under another work from the blue period, "The Blue Room", which depicts a woman taking a bath.


Picasso works on display in restaurant soon to be auctioned in Las Vegas


Marseille is home to a unique institute to restore works of art

  • Picasso

  • Artificial intelligence

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