Researchers from the Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada, and the National Gallery of Art have used multiple modes of light to reveal hidden details in a painting by Pablo Picasso during his Blue Period.
The team employed non-invasive infrared reflectance hyperspectral imaging, which records underlying images based on their relative transparency of the paint layers. This tool uncovered an arm and a disk under the painting's surface, while the application of an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) imaging scanner produced grayscale images that showed the distribution of elements associated with various pigments.
With XRF, the researchers analyzed 70% of the painting in 24 hours. Together with micro-samples collected from strategic locations, the XRF results, along with additional images generated from hyperspectral reflectance, revealed the artistic steps that Picasso followed in the creation of the painting.
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