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2.6.5 Evidence of vandalism

In 1971 Vermeer’s The Love Letter (L30) was stolen from an exhibition in Brussels where it was on loan from the Rijksmuseum. Brutally cut out of its frame, the painting incurred severe paint losses along all edges. After its return to the Rijksmuseum, an international committee decided The Love Letter (L30) should be restored as invisibly as possible, and that all areas of loss and damage should be carefully  retouched to maintain the painting’s illusionistic quality.1 The extent of the damages can still be seen in the X-radiograph, where original paint is missing, (Figures 2.29a,b).

Figure 2.29a: Luitsen Kuiper filling losses in The Love Letter (L30) during the 1972-1973 restoration (Photo: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).

Figure 2.29b: X-ray of The Love Letter (L 30) after the 1972-1973 restoration. The damages in the canvas show up black in the X-radiograph.


 N. Ex, Zo goed als oud. De achterkant van het restaureren, Amsterdam 1993, pp. 116-119.

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