research forum visiting conservator lecture



Merging and Emerging Images: Layer and Metamorphosis in Picasso’s Art

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

man with moustache wearing white shirt, black trousers and red tie
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Pedro Mañach, 1901. Oil on canvas. 105.5 x 70.2cm. Chester Dale Collection. 1963.10.53 (TMS 46528). Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Speaker(s): Ann Hoenigswald (Senior Conservator of Paintings, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Professor Aviva Burnstock

There are numerous examples of Pablo Picasso painting over existing compositions, but this was rarely done simply because the artist was disappointed with the image or unable to afford new canvas. In many instances Picasso incorporated elements of the earlier work into the subsequent one and allowed shapes, forms and ideas to reemerge in a new context. X-radiographs and infrared images, as well as clues on the surface of the paintings, often reveal both what was hidden and the relationship between the layers. Understanding the artist’s working methods through his prints, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and photographs enhances our understanding of the process of painting and illuminates why he approached his paintings in this way. Hidden and reconfigured compositions, whose initial identity is embedded in subsequent work, are “found objects” similar to those more readily visible on his sculptures.


Ann Hoenigswald is Senior Conservator of Paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She completed her undergraduate degree in art history and history at the University of Pennsylvania and received both a certificate in conservation from the Intermuseum Conservation Association as well as a MA in conservation from Oberlin College.

She has treated numerous paintings from the collection of the National Gallery of Art and is particularly interested in nineteenth century and early modern works. Much of her research has focused on artists’ materials and techniques and on artists who reveal the process of painting. Her research tends to be done in close collaboration with art historians and conservation scientists. Recent publications have included the “short hand” of oil sketches on paper and the equipment of the plein air painter; varnishes, surface appearance and the intent of the artist; Picasso studies; and the history of restoration. She is responsible for coordinating the conservation contributions to the National Gallery of Art’s forthcoming Systematic Catalogue of paintings from the second half of the nineteenth century and has worked with the web team at the Gallery to produce websites on Manet and Picasso.

She has been the recipient of the CASVA (Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts) paired fellowship in Conservation and also was an invited Guest Scholar at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.



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