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Dull Gret discloses her true age

The painting Dull Gret by Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the centrepiece of the Museum Mayer van den Bergh in Antwerp. The restoration of this masterpiece was entrusted to the specialists of the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage. Together with Bruegel expert Christina Currie, they made several spectacular discoveries.


Museum Mayer van den Bergh

Fund Baillet Latour
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Livia Depuydt (conservation-restauration)
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Dr Christina Currie (research)
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Dr Steven Saverwyns (research)
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Determining the exact date of the painting

What was the most important discovery? The work was dated incorrectly. Examination of the layers of paint proved that the panel does not date from 1561 but 1563. A further remarkable revelation was the confirmation by XRF images that the word dul ('mad with rage'), which appeared to have been inscribed on the painting, was just an accidental scratch in the preparatory layer. Previously, it was seen as a reference to the title of the painting.

Restoring the original colours

The restoration process removed the heavily yellowed varnishes and localised overpainting from the original paint layer. The bright colours have been restored to their former glory, and the scene has recovered its space and depth. Dull Gret's wooden support has also been adapted for optimal conservation. In this way, many future generations of art lovers will still be able to enjoy this fantastic masterpiece.

Dull Gret, before and after restoration

Dulle Griet x109929 aligned web Dulle Griet x126850 aligned web2

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ArtGarden: Research Enclosed Gardens and preventive conservation of Mixed-Media objects

How do you preserve items made of various materials, such as the Enclosed Gardens (Besloten Hofjes) in Mechelen? Within the ArtGarden project, an interdisciplinary research team determines the ideal preservation conditions for these kinds of historical mixed-media items. We make the results accessible to the broader heritage sector through an online tool.

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