The Discovery and Identification of an Original Varnish on a Panel by Carlo Crivelli

Jill Dunkerton and Raymond White
Technical Bulletin Volume 21, 2000

Abstract

After cleaning of an aged natural resin varnish on Crivelli's Dead Christ supported by Two Angels, (painted early to mid-1470s) and removal of retouchings which could be related to a restoration before the work first left Italy, an early varnish was apparent. Microscopical examination showed it to be original, since it overlaid undamaged original paint. GC-MS with thermolytic methylation was carried out. The results are discussed in detail and compared with the expected results had more recent materials been present.

The conclusion is that the varnish consists of ground sandarac resin heated gently in walnut oil which may have been previously heat-treated. The gentle heating was indicated by the survival of sandarac resin particles which had not been fully melted and combined with the oil. The resulting varnish was pale and had not discoloured strongly with natural aging.

Keywords 

Carlo Crivelli, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, panel paintings, sandarac, varnish

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The Discovery and Identification of an Original Varnish on a Panel by Carlo Crivelli, Jill Dunkerton and Raymond White (PDF 5.37MB)

 

To cite this article we suggest using

Dunkerton, J., White, R. 'The Discovery and Identification of an Original Varnish on a Panel by Carlo Crivelli'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 21, pp 70–76.
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/technical-bulletin/dunkerton_white2000


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