Study of the front of the painting

Analysis of the pigments

The analysis of the pigments was done by l’Institut D’art, Conservation et Couleur of Paris from two samples, one of the blue-green background (sample No: 79) and the other one from the blue area of the coat (sample No: 80).

The identification of the pigments, binding agents and other materials was achieved by using physical, microscopic and micro chemical methods.

The examination of the microstructure of the painting was done using stratigraphic sections (normal micrography, under ultraviolet).

The result of this is:

  • The support is made of cardboard.
  • The analysed samples contain only pigments or materials used before 1903.
  • The samples made of numerous layers reveal that the painting has a complex stratigraphy.
  • The preparatory white layer is constituted of white lead, zinc lead containing a load of barium sulphate. The largest quantity of white lead in the lowest layer can be explained by its higher siccative power: which reveals a good technical knowledge of the materials by the artist. That is no wonder since Picasso had from very young a remarkable technique. He was a professional from the start.
  • The thick preparatory layer of a white lead base is one of the characteristics of Picasso’s technique during the blue period in Barcelona.
  • The oil based binding agent mixed with resin is also a characteristic of Picasso’s technique at that time. The same is true for the pigments used by Picasso who only used high quality pigments.
  • Concerning the face and neck, Picasso covered them with mat white modulated of blues over which rosy ochres have been quickly brushed while still wet.
  • On the pictorial material of Woman in Blue with a Beret, cracks identical to those of Celestina before its cleaning are visible. These cracks, which are the result of the drying and the aging of the paintings, are linked to the preparation of the base and the pictorial material used (binding agents, pigments). This similarity between these two paintings indicates that they were painted with the same pigments during the same period.
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1. Analysis of the pigments
2. Radiographic examination
3. The Blue Period
4. Face - Cape - hood
5. Specific characteristics of Woman in Blue with a Beret

Sample 79

Sample 79 under U.V.

Sample 80