Through the use of Infra-red Reflectography, this exhibition reveals the drawings hidden beneath the paint layers in a group of outstanding works in the collection of the Museo del Prado, including The Table of the Seven Deadly Sins by Bosch, The Holy Family (known as The Pearl ) by Raphael, and The Death of Saint Peter Martyr by Berruguete.
A study of these under-drawings, which have remained hidden for five hundred years, has helped to determine the materials used in their creation, such as charcoal, black chalk, metal-point, brush and ink. It also revels the various ways in which these artists formulated their designs, using free-hand drawing, different ways of transferring preliminary sketches, and making changes to the composition. As a result we have a wealth of new information regarding the stages in the creative process which will help to clarify artists' working methods and those of their workshops. Such information can also assist in solving iconographic questions and even determine the attribution of specific works.
The great painters of the past could never have imagined that future technology would reveal these under-drawings, many of them executed with great vigour and beauty. In addition, in the case of a number of artists represented, such as Robert Campin, Hans Memling, Fernando Gallego or Alejo Fernández, no individual drawings on paper or parchment by their hands have survived. For this reason Infra-red Reflectography is the only evidence that we have of their drawing styles.
The exhibition is the result of a research project carried out by the Technical Documentation Department of the Museo del Prado, using a prototype Infra-red camera developed at the University of Milan. This technology has made it possible to further investigate and interpret the hidden lines, drawn by painters, resulting in a better knowledge of some of their masterpieces.