"The nanoprobe at the [Advanced Photon Source X-ray facility and the Center for Nanoscale Materials] allowed unprecedented visualization of information about chemical composition within a singe grain of paint pigment, significantly reducing doubt that Picasso used common house paint in some of his most famous works," one of the research leaders, Argonne's Volker Rose, said in a statement.
Art scholars think Picasso experimented with Ripolin to achieve a different effect than would've been possible with traditional oil paints, which dry slowly and can be heavily blended. In contrast, house paint dries quickly and leaves effects like marbling, muted edges, and even drips of paint. Still, experts couldn't be sure house paint was the key to Picasso's look without proof.
"Appearances can deceive, so this is where art can benefit from scientific research," said Francesca Casadio, senior conservator scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago. "We needed to reverse-engineer the paint so that we could figure out if there was a fingerprint that we could then go look for in the pictures around the world that are suspected to be painted with Ripolin, the first commercial brand of house paint."
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This article originally appeared on LiveScience.com.
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