Pablo Picasso painting conceals mysterious portrait beneath

Researchers have found an earlier work -- the image of a man -- underneath one of Picasso's first masterpieces, the 1901 painting "The Blue Room."
(Evan Vucci / AP)

A previously unknown portrait has been discovered hidden beneath an early painting by Pablo Picasso -- and now experts are trying to figure out who the mysterious figure is.

Conservators at the Phillips Collection in Washington told the Associated Press that they have long suspected something hidden beneath Picasso’s 1901 painting “The Blue Room.” Using X-rays and infrared imaging, they identified the portrait of a bearded man wearing a jacket and bow tie, with his head resting on his right hand.

An analysis confirmed that the hidden portrait was likely painted just before “The Blue Room,” curators told the AP.


“The Blue Room” joined the Phillips Collection in 1927 and depicts a nude woman bathing. Experts have used advanced infrared imagery to study the image behind the painting. Scholars have ruled out the possibility that the hidden painting is a self-portrait by Picasso, the AP said. No documentation seems to exist, and no clues on the canvas reveal the man’s identity, the scholars said.

“The Blue Room” is scheduled to be featured prominently in an exhibition at the Phillips Collection in 2017.

Art researchers around the world have discovered paintings hidden behind famous paintings. Works by Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh and Picasso are believed to have been discovered underneath newer works of art.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT