Saturday, 18 May 2019


The discovery of the new/old painting by Old Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer (previously) has unfolded in a very captivating way that makes sleuths and amateur art historians out of us all.
Early, unauthorised x-ray examinations of his Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window (Brieflezend meisje bij het venster) among the trove of the then recently repatriated treasures of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen of Dresden—taken to the Soviet Union as spoils of war we returned to boost residents’ morale and curried the interest of Western scholars. The analysis revealed a Cupid (like these other famous putti who also reside in the Dresden galleries) walled over and painted out of the image, in what was assumed over the ensuing decades after the initial discovery was an example of regrettable pentimenti.
Recent re-examination conclusively determines that the over-painting was not done by Vermeer himself and approximately two centuries later, so conservators have chosen to restore (shown in progress with the unrestored version above) the artist’s original vision, confident that the visual vernacular of figure on the wall is in keeping with the artist’s style and contributes something to his overall message, interpreted as the girl hoping to expand her horizons outside of her domestic sphere.