Restoration Removes 400 Year Old Smile

Laurie says:

Restored painting

..

Unrestored painting

I spent pieces of my youth with men walking up to me on the street and saying “Smile”. It stopped early in my life but I was occasionally walking with a friend and they would walk up to her and say “Smile”. I was always very offended. I never liked being diminished or seeing any form of misogyny.  I hope this form of misogyny is much diminished but I’m sure it depends on where.

I saw this article in the Guardian a while ago and, of course, it made me smile. Restoration work wipes smile off the face of Dutch vegetable seller.

At some point in the last 400 years a painting restorer probably decided the Dutch vegetable seller was far too glum and should be smiling. Now it has been put right and she is once again enigmatic.

English Heritage revealed the results on Friday of a two-year conservation project to reveal the true glory of a mysterious, unsigned painting that has been in its stores for more than 60 years.

The restoration work not only reveals the rogue addition of an upturned smile, but also a jarring strip of dirty sky added to make the canvas square rather than rectangular.Technical analysis and research also dates it to just before the Dutch Golden Age, much earlier than previously thought, making it highly likely that the painting is linked to the important 16th-century still-life painter Joachim Beuckelaer.

The results of the project were a revelation, said Alice Tate-Harte, English Heritage’s collections conservator. “The smile is such a change. She looks a lot more confronting I think, more serious

It certainly made me smile again, when I wrote this post.

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