Picasso: ‘quite adorable’ dog in ‘wonderful red bow’ discovered in painting | Art

A depiction of a dog has been discovered underneath layers of paint in an early Pablo Picasso masterpiece, more than 120 years after it was first created.

The animal was hidden underneath a patch of dark paint in Le Moulin de la Galette, completed by the Spanish artist when he was 19 years old in 1900. It was discovered recently when experts used modern imaging technology on the painting, revealing a brown dog wearing a red bow around its neck.

The painting is on display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, as part of an exhibition about the painter’s formative years in Paris.

Julie Barten, senior paintings conservator at the Guggenheim Museum, told Reuters she had always had “a strong feeling that there was something under there”.

“What we know is that in many instances, Picasso painted aspects of the composition and then subsequently obliterated them and transformed them into other compositional elements. This was really part of his practice,” she said.

She likened the dog to a “lingering ghost”, pointing out that viewers can see it with the naked eye if they look closely enough.

“There’s red paint showing through in areas and if you look really closely you can see the eyes and the ears. You can see that, when concealing it, he actually left the contour of the head still visible,” she said.

Megan Fontanella, the museum’s modern art curator, said that she still found the discovery surprising.

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“It completely changes how one would have encountered this picture,” she added. “You would have seen this really quite adorable dog in the foreground, looking almost directly at the visitor with this wonderful red bow. One can only speculate why Picasso would have concealed this. But certainly now my eye is drawn to all these wonderful figures in the composition.”

Over the years, researchers have discovered multiple hidden paintings in works from Picasso’s “blue period” between 1900 and 1904, including a woman’s face under The Old Guitarist, a nude portrait of a crouching woman underneath The Blind Man’s Meal and even a whole landscape underneath The Crouching Beggar.

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