Mix of metals in Picasso’s bronze sculptures betray their origins | Science News

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Mystery Solved

Mix of metals in this Picasso sculpture provides clues to its mysterious origins

Alloy ‘fingerprints’ help curators piece together where a sculpture was cast

By
6:00am, February 19, 2018
Picasso's Tête de femme de profil (Marie­-Thérèse)

HISTORY MYSTERY  Picasso first created this sculpture, Tête de femme de profil (Marie­-Thérèse), in plaster in 1931, but its origins in bronze were unknown. A new analysis of the metals in the bronze gave an important clue to where and when it was cast.

AUSTIN, Texas — An analysis of the metals in dozens of Picasso’s bronze sculptures has traced the birthplace of a handful of the works of art to the outskirts of German-occupied Paris during World War II.

This is the first time that the raw materials of Picasso’s sculptures have been scrutinized in detail, conservation scientist Francesca Casadio of the Art Institute of Chicago said February 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. And the elemental “fingerprints” help solve a mystery surrounding the sculptures’ origins.

“In collaboration with curators, we can write a richer history of art that is enriched by scientific findings,” Casadio said.

Casadio and colleagues from the Art Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., studied 39 bronzes in the collection of the Picasso Museum in Paris. The team used a portable X-ray fluorescence

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