Dirty not-so-little secret uncovered by art restorer

A Louvre art restorer came across a stimulating discovery while cleaning a 17th-century canvas by French artist Nicolas Poussin—a fully erect penis hidden by layers of paint. While working on Poussin’s huge canvas Hymenaios Disguised as a Woman During an Offering to Priapus (1634-38), Brazilian conservator Regina Pinto Moreira uncovered the fertility god’s, er, surprise package, which had been concealed by centuries of dirt and paint. Speaking to the São Paulo press, Moreira said she suspects conservative Catholic critics made a later artist cover up the offending member in the 18th century. "They hid the phallus of Priapus. It's what we call adjustment for modesty, and it's not uncommon." The painting, proudly restored to all its former glory, will be exposed next week at Museu de Arte de São Paulo on 8 September.

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