Art
4,443 Hypes 1 Comments

Conservators at the Met Discovered a Buried Composition Under This 18th Century Painting

A discovery that completely changes the initial depiction of the art.

Several years ago, the conservation lab at the Metropolitan Museum of Art received a painting by the 18th Century French artist, Jacques Louis David. The task was to simply remove varnish to make the work look anew. However, after years of analysis under an extensive process of infrared reflectography and macro X-ray fluorescence mapping, researchers have discovered an earlier composition hidden beneath the surface.

David’s painting, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743–1794) and Marie Anne Lavoisier (Marie Anne Pierrette Paulze, 1758–1836) (1788) was completed in 1788 and depicts Laurent Lavoisier, a chemist who contributed to many key breakthroughs in the field of chemistry. Amongst his accolades was the creation of the metric system, along with the discovery of oxygen and hydrogen. Standing above him is his wife, Anne Marie, who appears to be nonchalantly hunched over her husband, who is toiling away with intricate scientific instruments.

What the scans have revealed, is that David’s original painting shows Mademoiselle Lavoisier with an enormous hat decorated with ribbons and flowers. Additionally, the table that her husband is working at was not red at all, nor did it contain any instruments, but was lavishly made of gilt bronze.

What is noteworthy of these findings is the two depictions of the Lavoisier’s. The representation we’ve come to know is of the humbled scientist toiling away for the progress of society. Whereas, on the other hand, the original depiction shows them as the privileged tax collectors they were equally known as. The Lavoisier’s were active members of various groups associated with the Ancien Régime (Old Regime), which was the dominant socio-political system of the Kingdom of France from the late-Middle Ages till the French Revolution. The hidden composition reflects Lavoisier’s indulgence in status, luxury and consumption — a reputation that ultimately led to his his death by guillotine in 1794.

The painting was originally supposed to debut in 1789, but the artist was notified to withhold it in the wake of growing tension that culminated in revolution. The delay inevitably influenced David to strategically overpaint the original depiction to blend in with the changing social landscape. David’s painting finally debuted a century later at the 1889 Exposition Universelle.

Elsewhere in art, Tyrrell Winston will unveil a new solo exhibition at Stems Gallery in Brussels.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Tyrrell Winston Reflects on “Family Values” in a New Solo Exhibition at Stems Gallery
Art

Tyrrell Winston Reflects on “Family Values” in a New Solo Exhibition at Stems Gallery

On view from September 4 to October 5.

Four New York Art Dealers Join Forces on a New Venture Called LGDR
Art

Four New York Art Dealers Join Forces on a New Venture Called LGDR

A move that challenges the control of the art monopolies across the world.

Scammer Returns $336,000 USD to Pranksy After the Collector Thought He Bought a Banksy NFT
Art

Scammer Returns $336,000 USD to Pranksy After the Collector Thought He Bought a Banksy NFT

A remarkably ironic turn of events.

Destination Crenshaw Is a New Cultural Center That Will Enrich the South LA Community
Art

Destination Crenshaw Is a New Cultural Center That Will Enrich the South LA Community

Featuring seven new artistic works, including a massive sculpture by Kehinde Wiley.

Federico Fellini Is Honored With a New Museum in His Hometown of Rimini
Art

Federico Fellini Is Honored With a New Museum in His Hometown of Rimini

A two-site location built with the same dreamlike elements as his films.


Poodles Take a Whole New Meaning in Susumu Kamijo’s Abstracted Paintings
Art

Poodles Take a Whole New Meaning in Susumu Kamijo’s Abstracted Paintings

A new exhibition on view at Harper’s East Hampton.

Christian Rex van Minnen Brings His Dizzying Artwork to NANZUKA
Art

Christian Rex van Minnen Brings His Dizzying Artwork to NANZUKA

The first time the gallery has viewed a concurrent solo exhibition across its three locations

The City of Amsterdam to Return a Kandinsky Painting to Its Pre-War Heirs
Art

The City of Amsterdam to Return a Kandinsky Painting to Its Pre-War Heirs

After years of dispute, the painting is going home.

Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s Dynamic Portraiture to Exhibit at the Gagosian New York
Art

Nathaniel Mary Quinn’s Dynamic Portraiture to Exhibit at the Gagosian New York

An artist who blurs the line between perception and memory.

Michael Lau’s Maxx to Return in a New Solo Exhibition at Woaw Gallery
Art

Michael Lau’s Maxx to Return in a New Solo Exhibition at Woaw Gallery

On view from September 29 to October 23.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.