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  • Gavin O'Donoghue

Spot the dog, King Charles Spaniel concealed by Picasso

The most famous painting of Picasso's early career contained an additional element that hadn't been seen until now: a cute lapdog seated by a table with a few soused drinkers.

Currently, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, which also owns the painting, is holding an exhibition about Picasso's early years in Paris, which includes Le Moulin de la Galette (1900). According to the Guggenheim's press materials for the show, a canine was found. The show opened last Friday and runs through mid-August.

CNN reported that Guggenheim conservators and experts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., used X-ray fluorescence to make the discovery. Thanks to these scans, we can see the dog clearly, and it appears to be a Cavalier King Charles spaniel with a ribbon tied around its neck.

The fact that he must have hastily painted over the dog, which would have been a rather compelling aspect of the composition, was interesting to me," said Julie Barten, senior paintings conservator at the Guggenheim.

The Moulin de la Galette is a famous dance hall in Paris, where Picasso moved the same year. A modern element in a rapidly changing Parisian landscape, he paid close attention to the electric lights as well as the mixing of people from different classes.

When the painting was made, Berthe Weill sold it for 250 francs. The heirs of its former owner filed a restitution claim against the painting in 2007, claiming that it was sold under duress; two years later, the museum settled with the heirs.

2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Picasso's death, and "Young Picasso in Paris" features ten of the artist's works.

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