Hidden 1902 Picasso work which appeared lost forever after the artist painted over it a year later is recreated in full-colour by a ‘neural network’ – a computer system designed to recognise patterns
- The Old Guitarist is among Spanish artist’s most poured-over Blue Period pieces
- But it was painted on top of another early C20 painting, La Femme Perdue
- In 1998 x-ray and infrared technology revealed this image hidden underneath
- Now, it has been reconstructed to reflect how it would have initially been painted
A Picasso which had been painted over and feared irretrievable has been remarkably recreated by London scientists using cutting-edge neural technology.
The Old Guitarist is one of the Spanish artist’s most poured-over pieces as it is thought to reflect the financial hardship he was then enduring.
But the 1903 masterpiece has also enthralled art historians owing to the faint outline of what appears to be a woman in the background.
In 1998, more than 90 years after the painting’s inception, x-ray and infrared technology revealed the image which The Old Guitarist had been painted on top of.
La Femme Perdue, a lost piece which Picasso’s Old Guitarist had been painted on top of, has been stylised as it would have been drawn in the Blue Period
This new piece, which came to be known as La Femme Perdue, has now been reconstructed to reflect how it would have initially been painted in Picasso’s Blue Period.
University College London scientists Anthony Bourached and George Cann used a neural style transfer technique to retrieve the lost painting in colour, which the 1998 x-ray image was unable to do.
Neural analysis technology recognises layers and shapes in images, which are then cross-referenced with a database of paintings to pinpoint the time period when they were drawn.
In a paper titled Raiders Of The Lost Art, they wrote: ‘We present a novel method of reconstructing lost artwork, by applying neural style transfer to x-radiographs of artwork with secondary interior artwork beneath a primary exterior, so as to reconstruct lost artwork.’
The Old Guitarist (left) is one of the Spanish artist’s most poured-over pieces as it is thought to reflect the financial hardship he was then enduring. In 1998, more than 90 years after the painting’s inception, x-ray and infrared technology revealed the image which The Old Guitarist had been painted on top of (right)
But this new piece, which came to be known as La Femme Perdue, was not in the Blue Period style which it had initially be painted
They add: ‘Here we attempt to broaden the insight into an artist’s intentions, mistakes, and musings by reconstructing artwork that has been hidden under primary exterior of some of the most inspirational artists in history.
‘We believe that this gives one of many possible inferences of what inspiration existed in the artist’s mind.’
Picasso’s Blue Period between 1900 and 1904 refers to a series of mainly monochromatic paintings in blue and green.
Depicting his time struggling with poverty in Paris, this collection of work comprises chiefly of beggars, street urchins and the frail.