Pablo Picasso's painting of a nude woman, which had been concealed beneath one of his masterpieces for more than a century, has been recreated by University College London scientists using a combination of X-rays, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.
Picasso did not always have money for art materials before he became famous, so he, like other struggling painters, would paint over existing canvases to make new works, thus disguising the earlier images.
One such painting, which had been hidden beneath another for more than a century, has been given new life thanks to AI.
The art community has dubbed the painting "The Lonesome Crouching Nude."
PhD researchers Anthony Bourached (UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology) and George Cann (UCL Space and Climate Physics) have devised a five-step technology for reproducing painted-over artworks.
"It's quite eerie seeing the brushstrokes, the color and the way in which lights reflect off the work," Cann said. "It's a beautiful piece."
They brought back to life the Spanish artist's depiction of the naked woman for this project; the painting was assumed to be lost until 2010 when X-rays discovered it buried behind "The Blind Man's Meal."
The duo developed a full-size, full-color painting with 3D textured brush strokes using a combination of spectroscopic imaging, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.
To ensure that the recreation was as close to the original in appearance, feel, and tone as possible, they created an AI system that analyzed dozens of Picasso's paintings and educated itself to comprehend the artist's style.
Following its completion in 1903, "The Blind Man's Meal" was regarded as one of his most important works and is now housed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Art historians were aware of the nude piece, which appears in La Vie in 1903 and is now on exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
The UCL researchers' reproductions, dubbed NeoMasters, are carried out through a company they co-founded called Oxia Palus, which has already replicated two previous works for exhibition.
"The Lonesome Crouching Nude" isn't the first of Picasso's paintings to be discovered. Infrared technology revealed a bearded man's face beneath another painting, "The Blue Room," which depicts a lady bathing, in 2014.