Hidden Art

Caravaggio Self-Portrait Discovered in Acclaimed Painting

Renaissance master Caravaggio may have put a little bit of himself into his work as new technology reveals a miniature self-portrait hidden in his famous 1597 painting of Bacchus. The image revealed itself in the reflected glimmer on the surface of a carafe of wine in the painting, normally on display Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, which is appropriate considering Caravaggio was known for his revolutionary use of light. Though the figure, holding a paintbrush and working on a canvas at an easel, was spotted in 1922, advanced scientific equipment has shed new light on the submerged man. An Italian restorer first noticed the face, but due to poor refurbishment efforts, no art experts could conclude it was what is now believed to be Caravaggio at 25, after using multispectral reflectography. The technique uses infrared technology to penetrate through the layers of paint at varying levels of thickness, making the upper levels transparent and allowing researchers to see through the paint that failed to restore Caravaggio’s original oil painting.