Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Gets a Facelift Courtesy of the Japanese

Bullet Shih Mar, 2012 0
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Vemeer's Woman Reading pre-restoration

Vemeer's Woman Reading pre-restoration

The Art Newspaper has an extensive article on the recent restoration and travels of Vermeer’s painting The Woman in Blue Reading. The painting is currently in Japan for a traveling exhibition Communication: Visualising Human Connection in the Age of Vermeer.  Before its departure, the lending fee enabled the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to perform much needed restoration work.  The Woman in Blue is now officially bluer!  The restoration team removed much of the yellowed old varnish to give the lapis lazuli of her blue dress a vibrant sheen.

Other changes due to restoration according to The Art Newspaper,

  • An earlier restoration, probably in 1928, mistook three tiny white spots on the sheet of paper on the tablecloth for pearls—a common accessory in Vermeer’s paintings—and small blobs of yellow were added to highlight them. The recent examination suggested that the white dots represented light reflections on the tablecloth and the yellow overpaint was removed.
  • Two significant changes to the chair in the right corner were made to correct mistakes made during earlier restorations. An 1894 reproduction of the work revealed that the chair’s leg was originally wider, but it was slimmed down during the 1928 restoration. Conservators examined 17th-century Spanish chairs as well as those depicted in other works by Vermeer and used remnants of the original paint as a guide to make the chair leg wider at the bottom and taper slightly at the top. Conservators also uncovered a row of painted brass nails beneath the seat on the chair’s frame which had been overpainted.
  • Another discovery was the presence of a row of painted brass nails just beneath the seat on the frame of the chair. These had been covered with later overpaint and have now been revealed.

The painting is currently in Tokyo and will return to Amsterdam on March 30.

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