News on Colour Her Gone (1962) by Pauline Boty

Exciting news involving Gazelli Art House, Wolverhampton Art Gallery,, and Dr Sue Tate was recently revealed during Gazelli’s book launch and talk on the 23rd of January, 2024. Together with Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Gazelli Art House conducted a reflectogram (an image taken from beneath an artwork’s surface) validating the ongoing research efforts led by Dr. Sue Tate and Christopher Gregory (

In a stunning revelation, an entirely new narrative for Pauline Boty’s famed painting Colour Her Gone (1962) has come to light. A reflectogram has shown the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe was painted over an earlier image of the star, Marilyn with Beads. This was long thought to be a lost painting, and can be traced back to a 1962 photograph by John Aston. Boty’s Pop Art aesthetic, characterised by broad brushwork and flat perspective, initially suggests a straightforward technique, however reflectography has exposed the intricate evolution of the composition.


Painted alterations, particularly to the top of the right-hand colour field panel and the central green ribbon, indicate contemporaneous changes, suggesting a wholesale repainting of the artwork. Pentimenti (visible traces of earlier painting beneath painted layers), showcasing shifts in pearl positions and nostril locations, reflect the artist’s organic design approach. 


Overall, infrared reflectography (IRR) indicates not just changes in colour panel forms but also hints at alterations to colours used. The transparency of the green upper design in infrared suggests a different initial colour, opening avenues for exploration into pigment variations. The reflectogram invites a closer examination of this artistic transformation, offering a unique glimpse into the complex layers of Colour Her Gone.


Colour Her Gone was lent to Gazelli Art House for Pauline Boty: A Portrait (2023-24) by Wolverhampton Art Gallery.


“I had long thought that Marilyn with Beads was not a lost work but lay under Colour Her Gone. The reflectogram gives us conclusive evidence. Here as in other paintings Boty has radically reworked a composition until she had clinched the image that expressed exactly what she wanted to say”. The reflectogram also allows to see, as the report states, “the highly complex development of the composition” and “a high level of planning”, refuting criticisms of slapdash work.”        

                                                                                                   — Dr. Sue Tate, Freelance Art Historian

January 31, 2024