Andrea del Sarto's 'The Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist': Technique and Critical Reception

Larry Keith
Technical Bulletin Volume 22, 2001

Abstract

Technical examination was used to compare two versions of this work, in the National Gallery, London, and the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg. The National Gallery version has a complicated and unusual panel construction used elsewhere by del Sarto.

The priming, the imprimatura, and the method of transferring the underdrawing from a cartoon by the calco method are described. The composition and the relative status of the two paintings, derived from the same cartoon, are discussed in detail.

The paint medium was walnut oil throughout, yet a layer of discoloured linseed oil was found on the surface over thick dirt. It was not likely to be original, but could not be removed safely.

The Pettenkofer process was known to have been applied to the panel in 1864, but without the addition of copaiba balsam (since none was detected analytically). This shows that even Pettenkofer’s 'milder' process had long-term consequences for the paint, since it bound the linseed oil strongly to the much older paint.

Keywords 

Andrea del Sarto, artists' materials, painting techniques, panel paintings, previous interventions

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To cite this article we suggest using

Keith, L. 'Andrea del Sarto's "The Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and Saint John the Baptist": Technique and Critical Reception'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 22, pp 42–53.
http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/technical-bulletin/keith2001


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