Recent advances in technology, combined with established examination techniques and collaborative research by curators and conservators, have produced new insights into the Art Institute's masterpiece The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. Painted in Barcelona in late 1903 and probably completed in Paris in early 1904, The Old Guitarist is one of the most important paintings of Picasso's "Blue Period" (1901–04). Study of the painting led to the discovery of brushwork unrelated to the surface design and prompted a more detailed examination using a variety of techniques.
The technical examinations, combined with art historical research, revealed two earlier compositions underneath the image of The Old Guitarist. This information gives us a better understanding of Picasso's artistic process and expands our knowledge about one of the masterpieces of the Art Institute's collection of modern art.