Fertility god Priapus recovers his penis in old painting

A Brazilian art restorer has found a hidden layer in a 17th century painting of the fertility god Priapus, by French artist Poussin, depicting Priapus with an erect penis. The phallus was likely concealed for modesty by Spanish royals in the 1700s.


AFP - A Brazilian art restorer has discovered a new layer hidden in a centuries-old painting of the Greek God of fertility Priapus, by French artist Nicolas Poussin -- the deity's erect penis.

"They hid the phallus of Priapus. It's what we call adjustment for modesty, and it's not uncommon," said Regina Pinto Moreira, quoted in Tuesday's edition of the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. She suspects the cover-up was made in conservative Catholic Spain in the 18th century.

Moreira, who worked as a master art restorer at the Louvre in Paris for some 30 years, spent eight months alongside two French experts restoring Poussin's large 1634-1638 painting "Hymenaios Disguised as a Woman During an Offering to Priapus."

The 3.71-meter (12.2-feet) by 1.66-meter (5.44-feet) painting depicts Hymenaios, the Greek god of marriage ceremonies, dressed as a woman and dancing with Priapus, who was traditionally depicted with an erect penis.

The painting however once belonged to the Spanish royal family, and Moreira said she thinks this was when the post-production modesty came in.

Removing layers of dirt, dust and paint specks that accumulated over more than three centuries cost 150,000 euros (213,000 dollars). The artwork will be put on display at Sao Paulo's grand Museo de Art (MASP) on September 8.

Following the Napoleonic wars, the painting moved from Spain to the hands of English aristocrats, then was sold to French art dealer Georges Wildenstein. He sold it in 1953 to influential Brazilian journalist and MASP founder Francisco Assis Chateaubriand.

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