Chromatic values in Pablo Picasso’s early work: a comparison of hues in “Science and Charity” (1897) and its three oil sketches

  • Marcello Picollo IFAC-CNR
  • Costanza Cucci IFAC-CNR
  • Lorenzo Stefani IFAC-CNR
  • Reyes Jiménez-Garnica Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain
  • Laura Fuster-López Universitat Politècnica de Valencia, Instituto Universitario de Restauración del Patrmonio, Valencia, Spain
  • Anna Vila Departament d’Arts, Conservació i Restauració. Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Keywords: Pablo Picasso, painting Ciencia y Caridad, conservators’ colour perception, FORS, colorimetric measurements, hyperspectral imaging


This paper deals with the chromatic and colorimetric analysis of one of the most representative paintings by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) of his formative years, “Science and Charity” (Ciencia y Caridad, 1897), and its three oil sketches of the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Picasso, among the modern painters, turned from a subdued chromatism to brilliantly varied palettes in the course of his career. Measured colorimetric values obtained from reflectance spectra of relevant areas are presented and the evolution of the tones and hues used by Picasso to enhance drama through the scenes represented in the four paintings selected is discussed. This study was carried out in the framework of an inter-institutional research project aimed to gain an insight into the failure mechanisms of modern and contemporary paintings.

Author Biographies

Marcello Picollo, IFAC-CNR

Marcello Picollo - Ph.D., is a researcher at IFAC-CNR. His interests include color measurement, Vis-NIR Hyperspectral Imaging, and spot size UV-Vis-IR spectroscopic investigations of 2D polychrome objects.

Costanza Cucci, IFAC-CNR

Costanza Cucci - got her Physics “Laurea” and Ph.D. in Conservation Science at the Florence University. Currently she is a researcher at IFAC-CNR. Her research focus is on spectroscopic techniques and data-processing algorithms applied to the fields of cultural heritage, environmental monitoring, and safety food controls.

Lorenzo Stefani, IFAC-CNR

Lorenzo Stefani - is a technician in telecommunications at IFAC-CNR. He is in charge of the development of hardware and software for computer-controlled instrumentation for the non-invasive and in situ study of artworks.

Reyes Jiménez-Garnica, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, Spain

Reyes Jiménez-Garnica – got her degree on Conservation & Restoration at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Escuela oficial de Conservación y Restauración de Bienes Culturales. From 2002 she has been the head of the Departamento de Conservación Preventiva y Restauración del Museu Picasso de Barcelona.

Laura Fuster-López, Universitat Politècnica de Valencia, Instituto Universitario de Restauración del Patrmonio, Valencia, Spain

Laura Fuster-López - PhD in Conservation fromUniveristat Politècnica de València (UPV). Currently she is an associate professor at UPV and research focuses on the mechanical properties of cultural materials and the environmental effects on their stability and preservation.

Anna Vila, Departament d’Arts, Conservació i Restauració. Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Anna Vila - was formed as a conservator and she has a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. Vila has worked in the field of conservation science at The Art Institute of Chicago, theCentre de Recherche et Restauration des Musées de France, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Center for Art Technological Studies in Conservation in Denmark. At present, she works as a conservation technitian at the University of Barcelona.


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How to Cite
Picollo, M., Cucci, C., Stefani, L., Jiménez-Garnica, R., Fuster-López, L. and Vila, A. (2019) “Chromatic values in Pablo Picasso’s early work: a comparison of hues in ‘Science and Charity’ (1897) and its three oil sketches”, Cultura e Scienza del Colore - Color Culture and Science, 11(02), pp. 34-42. doi: 10.23738/CCSJ.110204.