He waited, patiently, for three centuries, hidden behind a layer of paint brownish, which prevented him to shoot his arrows. For the first time, cupid will appear in the top right-hand side of The Ereader to the window (1658), one of the most famous works by Johannes Vermeer, with The Girl with a pearl earring , The Astronomer or Dairy . The table of the Dutch painter ” is the first of a long series depicting scenes of domestic, intimate, often staged in front of a window.

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In 1979, an X-ray picture had already revealed the presence of the angel behind the overlay. Recent analyses have then demonstrated that this additional layer was not Vermeer, but had been affixed several decades after the death of the master of light.

Operation scalpel The Ereader to the window , Johannes Vermeer, 1658. Wolfgang Kreische

Made in 2017, with the support of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, these different tests have made it possible to take the decision early 2018, to remove the layer of paint. Christoph Schölzel, in charge of the operation, proceeded with the removal progressive with a scalpel. The method is extremely time-consuming. But still the best way to preserve the residue of varnish covering the original painting of Vermeer. For the moment, only a part of the cupid has been unveiled.

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The site of scrutiny should continue for at least a year before we see fully return to the original design. In the meantime, the public will be able to see The Ereader to the window in its intermediate state from may 8 to June 16 at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister of Dresden.