New research has revealed that Picasso employed the use of common house paint to create his distinctive artwork. The type of paint used by the artist has long been a mystery and the subject of debate among art scholars.
Most theories leaned in favor of Picasso as one of the first master painters to forgo traditional artist’s paint. Using enamel paint is a technique that produces a glossy finish void of brushstrokes. However, no definitive evidence supported Picasso’s use of house paint until now.
LiveScience reports that researchers were able to reveal the secret by examining Picasso’s 1931 painting The Red Armchair under a hard X-ray nanoprobe. The Art Institute of Chicago loaned the masterpiece to physicists at the Argonne National Laboratory for testing.
The nanoprobe was able to identify details of the Picasso at the level of individual pigment particles. This allowed researchers to identify the arrangement of specific chemical elements in the paint.
Research leader Argonne’s Volker Rose spoke about the findings:
“The nanoprobe at the [Advanced Photon Source X-ray facility and the Center for Nanoscale Materials] allowed unprecedented visualization of information about chemical composition within a singe grain of paint pigment, significantly reducing doubt that Picasso used common house paint in some of his most famous works.”
An article by Hispanic Business writes that previous efforts to confirm Picasso’s paint of choice were hindered by a lack of technology. Researchers point to the use of instruments like the nanoscope as a benefit to the art world:
“Appearances can deceive, so this is where art can benefit from scientific research. We needed to reverse-engineer the paint so that we could figure out if there was a fingerprint that we could then go look for in the pictures around the world that are suspected to be painted with Ripolin, the first commercial brand of house paint.”
Study results detailing Picasso’s use of common house paint were published in the journal Applied Physics A: Materials Science & Processing.