SYDNEY (AP) — A powerful X-ray technique has unveiled a hidden portrait beneath a famed painting by French impressionist artist Edgar Degas, helping solve a mystery that has stumped the art world for decades.
An article published this week in the online journal Scientific Reports reveals that the long-puzzled-over image concealed behind Degas’ “Portrait of a Woman” is, in fact, a portrait of another woman. Australian researchers believe she is Emma Dobigny, one of the painter’s favorite models.
For nearly a century, experts have known that Degas painted the famed portrait over another image sometime between 1876 and 1880. As the painting aged, the faint outline of what appeared to be another woman began leaking through the top layers of paint.
Staff at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, where the portrait is housed, wanted to see what was hidden underneath. But traditional X-ray techniques and infrared photography weren’t powerful enough to reveal any detail.