The National Museum of Art of Romania


Conservation Secrets Brought to Light

Lucas Cranach the Elder - Venus and Cupid

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1533) produced many versions of this mythological theme, the first being an engraving dated 1506, currently in Dresden.

The museum’s Venus and Cupid, acquired for the Picture Gallery of King Carol I of Romania, is dated 1520, a time when the artist was active in Wittenberg.

As in many of his paintings, the bow and arrow accompany Venus and Cupid as symbols of sufferings induced by love.

An 18th c. restoration significantly altered the painting’s initial outlook. The complex restoration carried out by Ioan Sfrijan, head of the museum’s Oil Painting Conservation Laboratory, revealed additional hair locks on Venus’s face and shoulders, a face uplift in line with 18th c. beauty standards, and a blue veil which conveniently covered the goddess’s naked body. All these alterations had cast a doubt on the painting’s authenticity.

Research revealed that the blue veil was made with Prussia blue, a pigment only used as of the beginning of the 18th c. Other additions could be clearly identified and separated from the original and minutely removed during a two-year process. The painting had thus regained its original character. 

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