Cincinnati Art Museum's chief conservator Serena Urry was conducting a routine inspection of the institution's prized Paul Cézanne painting "Still Life with Bread and Eggs" when she noticed something "odd." For an artwork dating back to 1865, the appearance of small cracks was no surprise. But they revealed tiny flashes of white that stood out in contrast to the brooding palette of the French painter's so-called "dark" period. The conservator asked a local medical company to bring a portable X-ray machine to the museum, where a technician scanned the 2.5-foot-wide oil painting in several parts. As the museum chief conservator stitched the images digitally using Photoshop, she saw "blotches of white," indicating more white lead pigment. Then she rotated it 90 degrees and said WOW aloud to her herself. When the scan was turned vertically, an image of a man emerged, his eyes, hairline, and shoulders appearing as dark patches. Given the figure's body position, she and her museum colleagues believe it to be Cézanne himself. Should that be the case, it would be among the earliest recorded depictions of the painter in his mid-20s when the still life was completed. Cézanne is known to have produced more than two dozen self-portraits, though almost all of them were completed after the 1860s and were primarily executed in pencil. (CNN)
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