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  • Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

Discovery of a hidden Cupido in a painting by Vermeer made 350 years ago.

Vermeer's cupido waited hidden for nearly three centuries and a half. For the first time, it can now be seen at the top right of La Liseuse at the window (c 1658). The layer of paint that masked it was removed as a result of recent analyzes. They showed that the concealment of this part of the painting was subsequent to the death of the Dutch painter.

The restored work is visible until June 16th at the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister (Germany).

The cupid of "La Liseuse at the window" was discovered 40 years ago, thanks to an X-ray. Until 2018, the experts believed that Vermeer himself had camouflaged the mythological figure which overhung his reading lamp.

Recent tests, however, contradict this theory. The expertise of the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts has proved that the layer of paint used to conceal divinity was added decades after the painting was completed.

Also in early 2018, the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister decided to restore the painting to its original state.

While it is true that Vermeer is famous for the tranquility of his genre scenes, it is also true that the Baroque painter is known to have sometimes spun erotic metaphors. Thus canvases of the same Roman god in The interrupted lesson of music (1659), A lady standing at the virginal (1672) and The Liseuse at the window .

The Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister has been exhibiting this painting since 1955 in its section of the old Dutch masters. The current version of the work is not entirely in its original state - only half of the Cupid is visible. The restoration work will resume in June, to be completed within a year, according to experts. Le Journal des Arts, Antonin Gratien

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