A Couple Represented as Ulysses and Penelope, 1668
Jan de Bray (Dutch, 1627–1697)
Oil on canvas
Gift of the Charter Collectors 1975.24


The lovely couple could be much improved in their appearance, and they most certainly deserve it! Treatment will reveal moderate to major improvement.

The surface of the canvas is coated in a thin, aged varnish that has dulled significantly over the years, resulting in poor color saturation. Because of this, the figures appear ‘flatter’ than they should; it doesn’t help that there is a significant grime layer overall. Even worse, there is a conspicuous tear repair in the upper right corner. Because this repair has aged badly, the attempted fill has started to “cup”, distorting the canvas. This old fill will be removed and replaced, and the tear site will be stabilized.

Treatment will consist of grime and varnish removal, as well as old areas of overpaint and past campaigns of retouching. A new coat of varnish will be applied, and losses will be carefully inpainted and toned. Once the painting is in the laboratory, it will be easier to determine if the tear repair can be improved.

This painting is such a gallery star already; just think of how it will look, once treated!