An unseen sketch by Pablo Picasso has been discovered hidden under one of his most famous pieces of work.
The secret was uncovered after experts used X-ray technology to examine the Spanish cubist painter’s 1922 piece Still Life, in an effort to assess the nature of some wrinkles that had been noticed on the canvas.
The sketch, scrawled on the back of the canvas, depicts a pitcher, a cup and a newspaper placed on a chair.
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Picasso was renowned for reusing old canvasses and painting over discarded drawings.
Researchers at the Art Institute of Chicago, where Still Life is displayed, said that the finding was “unusual”.
The research was made public when a paper was published on 21 July in SN Applied Sciences. The drawing was apparently covered up with a layer of white paint, before the artist began painting his familiar artwork over it.
“This seems somewhat unusual in Picasso’s practice, as he often painted directly over earlier compositions, allowing underlying forms to show through and influence the final painting,” said the paper.
Picasso was a painter and sculptor whose work was one of the driving forces of the early 20th-century Cubist movement.
His most famous works include The Weeping Woman and Guernica, which is currently displayed at the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid.
A date on Still Life suggests it was completed around 4 February, 1922. Picasso initially gifted the artwork to friend, famed novelist and art collector Gertrude Stein.
In 2018, a landscape painting was discovered under Picasso’s 1902 work The Crouching Beggar, as researchers used similar X-ray technology to examine the painting’s layers.
It was not known who created the landscape underneath, the contours of which served as inspiration for Picasso’s human figures painted on top.