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    Thursday, March 28th, 2024

    Paulus Potter (1625-1654), Head of a White Bull, c. 1643-47. Image, National Gallery of Ireland.

    The National Gallery of Ireland and the Mauritshuis in The Hague are set to embark on a collaborative new conservation project delving into the world of Dutch artist Paulus Potter. Potter’s lesser-known work Head of a White Bull (c. 1650), in the Gallery’s collection, will be researched by a multidisciplinary team of conservators, curators and scientists. It will be studied alongside the iconic The Bull (De Stier, 1647) in the Mauritshuis’s collection. From March 29 visitors to the Mauritshuis will be able to follow the multi-analytical examination of De Stier and Head of a White Bull. Subsequent results will go on to inform a major restoration of The Bull in front of the public at the Mauritshuis over the next two years.

    Preliminary research into Head of a White Bull has revealed that it is a fragment a large painting by Potter that once depicted The Abduction of Europa. Remarkably, parts of this scene are beneath the painting’s surface, and can be detected using scientific imaging. This discovery has provided a unique window into Potter’s artistic choices and a rare engagement with a mythological subject. Scientific investigation on both Head of a White Bull and The Bull will be led by an expert team of specialists from the National Gallery of Ireland and the Mauritshuis, using technologies to study the paintings beneath their surfaces in unprecedented detail.