The Young Vermeer

  • 8th December 2010 − 13th March 2011 | Scottish National Gallery (Scottish National Gallery) | Admission free

Diana and her Nymphs

about 1653-54
Oil on canvas, 97.8 x 104.6 cm

During conservation treatment of this painting in 1999-2000 it was discovered that the canvas at some point had been trimmed on the right-hand side by approximately 12 centimetres (fig. 1).

It was also found that the blue sky filling the upper-right of the painting was a later addition (fig. 2). Technical research revealed that the paint contained Prussian blue and chrome green, pigments available only from 1704 and about 1840 respectively. This means that Vermeer could not have painted this sky himself. Paint cross-sections of the area showed that the build-up of the paint layers underneath the blue was very similar to those in the dark foliage adjacent. It was concluded that Vermeer originally painted the scene with a closed-off background.

Consequently, it was decided to overpaint the sky with a neutral dark brown tone, reconstructing what is assumed to be the original appearance of the painting (fig. 3).