Butchered pig found hidden in painting

00:58, Sep 16 2009
Barn Interior
HERE PIGGY, PIGGY: The restored painting Barn Interior by the 17th century Dutch artist Egbert van der Poel with the revealed image of a flayed pig that had been painted over, and the painting before it underwent restoration.

A restorer has found a hidden image of a butchered pig in a 17th century Dutch painting owned by a Michigan college.

Barn Interior, one of 16 paintings given to Calvin College two years ago, shows a woman and two children inside a barn. It was painted by Egbert van der Poel, who lived from 1621 to 1664.

Last summer, Calvin director of exhibitions Joel Zwart sent the picture to Chicago art conservator Barry Bauman for cleaning.

Bauman noticed that a ladder on the left side of the painting had been heavily painted over and the paint was flaking.

Underneath, he discovered the pig, butchered and stretched hanging upside down from the ladder.

"It was painted over, and the obvious question is, Why was it painted over?" said Zwart. "Well, it was most likely not covered over by the artist. Very likely a wealthy patron bought it.

"It's this grotesque scene, this butchered animal hanging in a barn. And quite likely this patron hired another artist to paint it over."