Detail of the kneeling Christ and God the Father

The panel was left at the Museum in February 2011 for study and possible acquisition. After it entered the Museum technical analyses were carried out in the form of ultraviolet photography in the Museum’s Photographic Laboratory, X-radiography and Infra-red reflectography in its Technical Documentation Department, and tests on the pigments and support in the Analysis Laboratory. Working with the Museum’s technical staff, Pilar Silva Maroto, Head of the Department of Spanish Painting (1100-1500) and Flemish and Northern Schools Painting (1400-1600) undertook the art-historical and documentary study on the painting.

The results of the technical analyses were surprising. While it was evident with the naked eye that the panel had a thick area of overpainting covering its lower left side, there was nothing visible to indicate what was beneath it. X-radiography and Infra-red reflectography revealed that the artist who painted the panel had in fact included the figure of a richly dressed, kneeling male donor wearing clothes in fashion around 1400, his head bare and holding a scroll with the opening words of the Psalm Miserere mei […]. He is protected by Saint Agnes, who can be identified by the lamb at her feet.

Dendrochonology confirmed that the Baltic oak panel was from the correct period and that the work could have been painted from 1382 onwards although the style of the donor’s clothes indicates a date of around 1400 onwards. X-radiography showed the structure of the panel and also the fact that the lateral elements of the frame (which is the original one) are an integral part of the panel, while the horizontal elements were attached to it with round pegs.

Pigment analysis indicated that the original paint and later overpainting were separated by an isolating layer of varnish that made it possible to safely remove the overpainting. Once this was established it was decided to remove the overpainting, as this was the only way to gain complete knowledge of the work’s state of preservation and to assess it correctly. This was carried out by María Antonia López de Asiaín in the Prado’s Restoration Studio in January 2012.

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