Tearing apart Picasso’s Masterpieces…

Early 2015, Teledyne ICM’s UK distributor, Euroteck, received an exiting, even trilling, but somewhat mysterious request…

Canvases – plain-woven fabric (usually cotton) stretched across wooden frames – have always been rather expensive. Thus, it is not difficult to imagine that painting over an Artwork has been a quite common practice over the course of History. Either due to lack of money or because the artist wasn’t satisfied with the end result, paintings were often covered by new layers of paint and therefore lost forever… or were they?

Thanks to science and technology, we can now investigate, explore and unveil lost treasures. Indeed, exposing a piece of Art to X-Rays radiations allows Art experts to shed light on hidden masterpieces that have been hidden from view for years, even centuries.

It is because of its expertise in the NDT (Non Destructive Testing) field that Teledyne ICM was contacted the Tate Museum in London, UK.

The museum’s team is on a quest to reveal the secrets of the most famous, skilled, and acclaimed artists of the 20th Century.

Greg, Area Sales Manager from Teledyne ICM, and the Euroteck team were invited to London in order to assist the inspection and scanning of one of the musuem’s most celebrated paintings.

Nude Woman in a Red Armchair” (Femme nue dans un fauteuil rouge), is a portrait by the Spanish artist, Pablo Picasso. This colorful painting from 1932 pictures a young woman named Marie-Thérèse Walter, the Master’s 17 year-old French mistress. This stunning Artwork is part of a collection of canvases directly inspired by the young muse, representing one of the high points in Picasso’s life achievement.

The museum’s experts and the whole team were quite eager to discover the possible hidden face of this undressed lady. Thus, armed with Teledyne ICM’s flagship portable X-Ray generator, the CP200D, Greg proceeded to inspect the masterpiece.

Inspecting thin components such as paint layers requires a very low kV dosage but high mA setting, which doesn’t over penetrate the painting but provide a sharp and crisp image. A tailor made application for Teledyne ICM’s CP200D X-Ray tube!

Unfortunately, no historical discovery took place on that September afternoon but the CP200D performances exceeded expectations and the results easily convinced the Museum, which decided to acquire its own CP200D in order to perform in house inspections on other Masters’ paintings in the future.

Later this year, Euroteck will be setting up a complete up-to-standards room exclusively dedicated to X-ray inspections – featuring Teledyne ICM’s CP200D – within the museum’s walls.

Who knows? A lost treasure might soon repapered from the past thanks to science, technology and Teledyne ICM… Stay tuned!

Laurent Colson. Marketing & Communication Manager at Teledyne ICM.