August 30, 2009
Restorer Finds Hidden Pig in 1600's Dutch Work
(AP) - GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A restorer's work has found a hidden image of a butchered pig in a painting from the collection of Michigan's Calvin College. The 17th century Dutch work Barn Interior is one of 16 paintings that Calvin alumnus Cornelius Van Nuis gave the Grand Rapids school two years ago. Egbert van der Poel's work shows a woman and two children inside the barn. Van der Poel lived from 1621 to 1664.
Last summer, Calvin director of exhibitions Joel Zwart sent Barn Interior to Chicago art conservator Barry Bauman. "What with chemicals and soot and dirt in the air, paintings naturally get darker," Zwart said in a statement. "When they get cleaned, there's a change in appearance." Bauman's efforts did more than lighten the painting. He noticed that a ladder on the left side of the painting had been heavily painted over and the paint was flaking. Underneath, he discovered a pig, butchered and stretched hanging upside down from the ladder.

Before Treatment

After Treatment
"It was painted over, and the obvious question is, Why was it painted over?" said Zwart. "Well, it was most likely not covered over by the artist. Very likely a wealthy patron bought it. "It's this grotesque scene, this butchered animal hanging in a barn. And quite likely this patron hired another artist to paint it over." Zwart said the restored work "looks a lot different than before, and it looks better. The restoration work also revealed information about the painting's history. It turns out that the work is a "pendant," one of a pair of paintings on a shared theme. Barn Interior's companion painting hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Art history professor Henry Luttikhuizen said he is pleased the discoveries about the painting are drawing attention to Van Nuis, who died last year. "Kees would have really enjoyed seeing the painting restored. I can readily imagine him chuckling with delight at the conservator's findings," Luttikhuizen said.



Barry Bauman Conservation
Contact: Mr. Barry Bauman
1122 N. Jackson Ave., River Forest, IL. 60305
Ph.(708)771-0382  Fax.(708)771-1532