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Caravaggio's secret self-portrait

A tiny-self portrait of Caravaggio in his famous painting of Bacchus can be seen clearly for the first time, thanks to a new study by researchers and restorers. The image of the artist working at his easel, hidden in a reflection of the glass carafe in the young god's hand, was first spotted by a restorer cleaning the canvas in 1922. Detailed analyses using the most advanced scientific equipment in the world has confirmed the tiny portrait does indeed exist and revealed it clearly for the first time.

His face appears in detail, particularly his nose, eyes and the white collar around his neck. Although first spotted nine decades ago, there had been no further clear sighting of the self-portrait, which is nearly invisible to the naked eye.

Reflectography uses wavelengths of infrared radiation penetrate paint layers of different thicknesses, making the upper layers appear transparent. Details of the discovery will be discussed in greater depth at a conference on Friday revealing other new discoveries about Caravaggio's work.

The 'Bacchus' normally hangs in Florence's Uffizi Gallery.

by S. C.
31 october 2009, Food Notes > Miscellanea