CONSERVATION IN DETAIL
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973)
Woman in Blue (Mujer en azul),c. 1901
Woman in Blue, painted in 1901 by a young Picasso at the beginning of his Blue Period, is one of the Reina Sofia’s most important and popular works, with approximately two million visitors viewing it every year. Over recent decades, following an earlier restoration procedure involving the liberal application of varnish, Woman in Blue became greener than her intended blue. The contrast between lighter and darker areas consequently seemed more muddied, and the painting lost much of its original drama.
The restoration effort carried out by a team of eight experts in the Reina Sofia’s own conservation studio has been completed, and Woman in Blue is back on public display, allowing visitors to view her in all her former glory. The team carried out close analysis of the painting using the most sophisticated technology, including visible light macro photography, infrared reflectography, UV light and radiography. They removed the layer of varnish in order to reveal the painting’s original colors, also leaving Picasso’s first brushstrokes more clearly visible and more easily appreciated.