Venus
Lucas Cranach the Elder,
c. 1518

Background

Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1518
Venus
oil on wood 180.5 x 72.5 x 0.7 cm

Lucas Cranach the Elder's sixteenth century painting Venus, was cleaned in 1993 in the National Gallery of Canada's Restoration and Conservation Laboratory. It had been observed for some time that a painted leaf (actually a large leaf at the end of a branch) has been added posthumously to mask the goddess's thinly veiled pubic area, and suggestions were advanced that this leaf be removed. This photograph shows the painting before removal of the fig leaf and the thick layers of the old natural-resin varnish. Earlier varnish layers had most likely been removed and replaced several times; this last one had probably been applied about seventy-five years ago. Some discoloured overpaints that had been used to disguise damage caused by the slight splitting of the joined vertical panels had become disturbing.

Click the forward arrow to see the "before and after" effect of this restoration project.