Picasso’s 1917 paint materials and their influence on the condition of four paintings

Laura Fuster-López, Francesca Izzo, Cecil Krarup Andersen, Alison Murray, Anna Vila, Marcello Picollo, L Stefani, Rayez Jimenez, Elena Aguado-Guardiola

Publications: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This work aims to investigate the correlation between the painting materials used by Picasso to create four artworks in Barcelona in 1917 and their actual conditions. Specifically, a range of crack types and patterns was observed in the painted layers. The paintings, kept together in Picasso’s family house until they were donated to the Museu Picasso in 1970, had significant differences in their condition, even though they present several similarities in the choice of materials, technique and in their conservation history. A multi-analytical approach was adopted to characterise the painted layers by X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, fibre optic reflectance spectroscopy in the 350–2200 nm range, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. The obtained results have been combined with those from a previous analytical campaign focused on the study of grounds and canvases of these four paintings and with visual examination of the cracks to establish hypotheses about the differences in degradation. This combined overview of non-invasive documentation techniques, chemical analysis and observations of the mechanical damage has provided an insight into the possible contribution each layer could have played in the damage observed in the four canvas paintings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2159
JournalApplied Sciences
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020

Artistic research

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