Fra Angelico’s Predella for the High Altarpiece of San Domenico, Fiesole
Dillian Gordon, Martin Wyld and Ashok Roy
Technical Bulletin Volume 23, 2002
The five panels discussed date from the 1420s. Eastlake specified and requested their restoration when they arrived in the National Gallery, but analysis showed that different materials were in fact used at that time.
The varnish beneath 19th-century retouching was analysed, but was in fact not original, since it included a thickened essential oil and a material such as gum benzoin, a combination recommended in the 19th century for 'refreshing' egg tempera paint.
The retouchings were analysed before conservation, and anachronistic ones were removed while those with mosaic gold were not, since that pigment would have been available to the artist. The 19th-century ones painted with wet process vermilion had discoloured to black or grey in most cases.
The panels have egg tempera medium throughout, with oil used only for mordant gilding and silvering. The panels’ structure is detailed: poplar reinforced with canvas, primed with gypsum and anhydrite in glue, underdrawing analysed as iron gall ink, incised lines for main compositional elements, and a simplified palette of strongly-colored pigments.
artists' materials, Fra Angelico, Italy (Fiesole), painting techniques, panel paintings, pigment, predellas, previous interventions
To cite this article we suggest using
Gordon, D., Wyld, M., Roy, A. 'Fra Angelico’s Predella for the High Altarpiece of San Domenico, Fiesole'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 23, pp 4–19.
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