The restored "Woman at a Window"
In 1855, London’s National Gallery of Art bought the above painting called Woman at a Window, which was painted in the early 1500s by an unknown Italian artist.
However, the painting they bought did not look like the painting above.
In 1978, the museum began restoring the painting and discovered something odd when the old varnish was removed – the original had been painted over.
They found that the woman underneath was blond, her jawline was altered, her nipples protruded, and she had eyes that looked off to the side. And because of her pose looking out of a window and her suggestive sexuality, she was likely a prostitute or courtesan.
Also, certain attributes of the painting that made it seem like it might be the work of a specific artist (instead of being "anonymous") also vanished along with the varnish.
She had been deglamorized, possibly to conform to 19th-century morals and to make it easier to sell to the museum.
Here she is pre-restored, in her more marketable Victorian state:
"Woman at a Window",
the version the museum originally bought.
This painting was shown during the museum’s Close Examination: Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries exhibition.
– Woman at a Window, The National Gallery>>
– A Blonde’s Dark Secret, The National Gallery>>