By Sybil

Folks who keep fine paintings looking their absolute best (cleaning and restoring) often dream of finding hidden secrets in these masterpieces. Rarely do they expect to find dead bugs.

Painting “plein air” – or outdoors, sometimes in the shade of a large umbrella, was something the impressionists popularized. And that preference of location had some odd consequences for Vincent Van Gogh’s “Olive Trees.”

Curators at the Nelson-Atkins museum of art in Kansas City found the bug in Vincent van Gogh’s Olive Trees, when it was being scanned as part of the research for a catalogue of its French painting collection.

Eagle-eyed conservator Mary Schafer found it in the work’s lower foreground. “Looking at the painting with the microscope … I came across the teeny-tiny body of a grasshopper submerged in the paint, so it occurred in the wet paint back in 1889.”

My mother would have told me not to complain about the “extra protein.”



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