Painted-over figure of Cupid returned to Vermeer's masterpiece

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Painted-over figure of Cupid returned to Vermeer's masterpiece
Painted-over figure of Cupid returned to Vermeer's masterpiece
27 August, 18:27Culture
Back in 1979, while studying "The Girl Reading a Letter," restorers discovered in the background the figure of a Cupid, hidden under a layer of later paint. In September, after a three-year restoration, the painting will for the first time appear before the public in the form the author intended.

The painting, painted in 1657-59, will be exhibited at Vermeer's "home" exhibition at the Dresden Gallery, along with ten more canvases, according to the Daily Mail. For the first time, the public will be able to appreciate the Cupid, which Vermeer depicted in the background, and someone else later painted over. The experts of the gallery have determined that the alteration does not belong to the author's brush. Taking this into account, it was decided to return the canvas to its original appearance - this painstaking work took the restorers who worked with a microscope and scalpel for three years.

If, before the discovery of the cherub, the nature of the letter that the heroine was reading could still raise doubts, then after his return it became clear: the girl had a love letter in her hands. This interpretation, according to experts, is supported by other motives - an open window, which can be read as a symbol of a woman's desire to go beyond the home and her usual way of life, and a bowl of fruit, a symbol of extramarital affairs.

The Delft artist clearly liked the god of love: Cupid is present at least on three more of his canvases, including the Milkmaid from the Rijksmuseum, where the cherub can be seen on a tile in the background - he probably hints that by doing housekeeping, in fact, the maid thinks about the man.

The reason why Cupid was painted over on The Girl Reading a Letter is not known for sure. Experts suggest that this could be due to the fact that the tastes of the public have changed, or that the painting was trying to give a more in-demand look. Probably, the art dealer hoped to pass off the canvas for the work of a more famous artist, such as Rembrandt. The Elector of Saxony, who acquired the work in 1742, considered it to be Rembrandt. Later it was attributed to Peter de Hooch, and only in 1880 was identified as a painting by Vermeer.

The Girl is one of the 34 surviving paintings attributed to Vermeer today. In 1945, she was saved from death during the bombing of Dresden and hidden in a tunnel, and then taken to the USSR. However, during the years of the thaw, along with hundreds of other paintings taken out of Dresden during World War II, the Soviet authorities returned the Vermeer masterpiece.

The painting will appear in its usual place in the Gallery of Old Masters on September 10. During the restoration, the original color palette, hidden under the yellowed varnish, was also returned.

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