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I knew there was an invisible whale there! I just knew it, woo-hoo!

from Yahoo! News

Hidden Beached Whale Revealed in 17th-Century Dutch Painting

By by Megan Gannon, News Editor

View of Scheveningen Sands, before and after conservators uncovered a beached whale in the painting. (Fitzwilliam Museum)View of Scheveningen Sands, before and after conservators uncovered a beached whale in the painting. (Fitzwilliam …

When art conservators in the United Kingdom were cleaning a 17th-century Dutch seascape, they found a surprise: an image of a beached whale that had been hidden for at least 150 years.

Until recently, the painting — “View of Scheveningen Sands,” created by Hendrick van Anthonissen around 1641 — simply showed groups of people gathered on a beach in The Hague in the Netherlands.

“It seemed a very unassuming painting depicting a very calm beach scene set in winter,” Shan Kuang, a conservation student at the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum, said in a new video explaining the strange find. “There were clusters of people gathered. I was unclear why they were there, but it didn’t seem too out of normal.” [Image Gallery: Technology Reveals Hidden Art Treasures]

Kuang was tasked with removing a coat of varnish, which is typically found on oil paintings, but unfortunately yellows over time. When she began cleaning, a figure emerged on the horizon of the ocean next to a shape that looked like a sail. This was “extremely peculiar and unexpected,” Kuang said. But further cleaning with a scalpel and solvent revealed the floating figure was actually standing on top of a whale, and what at first appeared to be a sail was actually the whale’s fin.

At the time the painting was created, there was a surge of public interest in whales, researchers at the museum said, noting that historical records document a number of whale strandings on the coastline of the Netherlands in the beginning of the 17th century.

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Posted on June 6, 2014 by Editor

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