Restauração 'descobre' cupido escondido em famoso quadro de Vermeer
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Restauração 'descobre' cupido escondido em famoso quadro de Vermeer

The story…

Love symbol hidden in masterpiece

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Need-to-know language

restoring – bringing something back to its previous, better state

varnish –liquid that forms a shiny layer over a surface

painstaking – extremely careful

stroke – mark made by a paintbrush in one direction

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What made the team think they'd find the Cupid?

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Enigmatic, serene - it's captivated generations of art lovers.

But experts in Dresden, who are restoring the masterpiece, have unveiled what they acknowledge is a completely new picture.

Gone, the old yellow varnish. In its place rich, bright colour. And now on the back wall - a painting within the painting.

Restorers removed layers of paint to reveal a long-lost Cupid. Painstaking, precise - each stroke exposing the original.

The team expected to find the Cupid. X-rays revealed it decades ago, though it was assumed Vermeer himself had painted it out.

But when they analysed the pigment layers, they realised it could only have been covered up after his death. It matters. That Cupid means that's a love letter.

Stephan Koja, Dresden Old Masters Gallery director

It has become so much more Vermeer. For me, it's so convincing what we found. It's such a strong, much stronger, painting that it has been before.

It'll take another year to complete the restoration, but the work in progress will be temporarily displayed.

A brief opportunity for the millions of people around the world who know and love the painting to acquaint themselves with a very different masterpiece.

Did you get it?

What made the team think they'd find the Cupid?

The image of the Cupid was revealed by X-rays a decade ago.