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Colby College. Art Dept.


New technical information uncovered by conservator Mary Schafer has revealed an earlier, unfinished composition beneath the margins of Raphaelle Peale’s circa 1822 trompe l’oeil painting “Venus Rising from the Sea—a Deception.” The earlier version of the painting featured a partial copy of Charles Willson Peale’s 1817 portrait of Raphaelle seemingly concealed behind the same white kerchief that now appears to hide a copy of James Barry’s 1772 painting “The Birth of Venus.” Schafer and art historian Lauren Lessing reinterpret Peale’s painting in light of these findings, describing its complex nature as both a physical object and a dark visual joke.


Originally published: Winterthur Portfolio 43.2/3 (2009), pp. 229-259.



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