What’s more amazing, the same ars-poetic image of Cupid is featured prominently in another Vermeer painting, A Young Woman standing at a Virginal
(1670–72), housed in London’s National Gallery
. This has led scholars to believe the Cupid may be based on a real painting owned by Vermeer. An inventory of his widow’s belongings includes a mention of an item referred to as “a Cupid.”
Christoph Schölzel, Dresden’s painting restorer, has already begun work restoring the painting. It’s purported to be in good condition, though a layer of varnish that darkened with age turned the painting’s subtle colors yellowish, and Schölzel’s first task is to focus on this. His work will require a microscope and a scalpel, allowing him to scrape off overpaint without removing the original varnish. Thus far, Cupid remains about half-exposed. The work will be displayed in its transitional, semi-restored state from May 8th to June 16th at Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister.