Restored Vermeer uncovers cherub, penis

Originally published at: Restored Vermeer uncovers cherub, penis | Boing Boing


“Free Willie”


Wake up sheeple:


I like Rob’s take on this story. A lot of people are taking the “some dumb painter came along and censored the naked baby” tack. I wrote a short paper in college about this painting. To me, it was mysterious, but seemed to be melancholy; a young woman reading a “Dear John” letter as the light of this epiphany shines on her. The space above contained the sadness and tension in the scene.

Restoring the mocking Cupid doesn’t change the meaning of the piece, but does sort of hammer you over the head with it. To me, this is a case of the editor knowing better than the author.

Or maybe Cupid is happy that she got a spicy note from her lover. Who knows? ART!


Why did they paint over the whole picture, and not just add fig leaf, as they did for a time to everything.


If you think surrealism or any modern art doesn’t make sense, just try to understand the art world as a whole and… well nothing makes sense. Except maybe to tear our thinking away from the dichotomy of better/worse. Or it could be about money. Or power. But I wouldn’t know, I create art and don’t even know if I could or should call myself an artist.


I’m indifferent to the symbolism, but the restored colors of the cleaned painting are much more pleasing. The fruit looks luscious instead of rotten, for whatever symbolic meaning the change may have.


Wait until some art historian reveals that the original version of Magritte’s The Son of Man was just some nondescript guy in a bowler hat until some joker at the gallery painted an apple over his face.


As we may dare to intimate, perhaps because it was to change the painting (as is plainly the case with the lamb altarpiece) not (just) to censor it.


Yet the neat bit (for some) is that uncovering the depiction of cupid on the wall (complete with stepping on of masks as a show of disdain for falsity) is that the letter that Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window has therefore “got” to be about matters of love; and not likely good news in that regard by the looks of her looks. (Do we firmly believe that Vermeer used a Camera Obscura for ‘all’ his paintings, so there might’ve been a cupid model arranged so as to ‘rotoscope’ over?)


It’s likely that Vermeer used a camera obscura for most of his paintings. However, I’d bet he didn’t use one for the Cupid. He may not have even used a live model; he might have been copying an existing similar painting. The Cupid is certainly clunkier and less photorealistic than the rest of the scene.

I agree with your assessment of the meaning and symbolism of the painting.


One of the fun things about art school back when I was doing that was seeing the now-obvious layers of bizarre projections of long dead eyes onto their past while always knowing that even in this effort we were doing the same thing with ours.

I like the colors. The greens and yellows look a lot more intentional without the haze. I miss the ambiguity but only because I had previously learned to like it in the first place.


Take that, betches

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They missed the murderess

I cannot find an image of the original that is quite so grubby as the image in the article makes out. Still the clean up does reveal what a monstrously fine painting it is, that reflection in the window is breathtaking.


I’ve seen this recently at an exhibit of Rubens’ work; a painting of an artist’s studio shows a number of paintings on the wall, and the curatorial notes mentioned that at least one of the paintings was in fact a real work. So yeah, the painting in the painting was likely a copy of another painting. So to speak. (and the word “painting” has now become a nonsense word to me and lost all meaning. painting painting painting)


If we restore far enough we’ll find the whole thing was just a white canvas.


Rothko in his earliest period.


This brought to mind the 19th-centiury academic trend of dark, brownish paintings. Artists studied from paintings altered by centuries of soot, grime, and darkened varnish, assuming that was how they looked when the old masters painted them.


Reminds me of sort of the opposite happening with Renaissance and Neoclassical sculptors harking back to the Greek Classical and Hellenistic Ages, leaving their works the color of the marble rather than painting them in life-like colors as the Greeks had originally done theirs.


When you get your new PC and set “level of detail” from low to very high and the game suddenly looks and feels completely different.

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