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Raphael's Early Work in the National Gallery: Paintings before Rome

Ashok Roy, Marika Spring and Carol Plazzotta
Technical Bulletin Volume 25, 2004


Reviews Raphael's working methods in the early part of his career and presents the technical findings of the seven early works by Raphael in the collection of the National Gallery. The article is intended to complement the exhibition catalogue 'Raphael: From Urbino to Rome'.

General features of Raphael's paintings include the use of panel supports, gesso grounds bound in animal glue, off-white coloured imprimatura layers that are pigmented with lead white and lead-tin yellow. Raphael often transferred drawings from paper to panel by pouncing. Raphael also used the method of squaring to transfer drawings to panel. Evidence of Raphael's use of rulers and compasses is presented.

The binding media of the paint layers has been identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) as drying oil. Past identifications of binding media as egg tempera are reconsidered in this article. Detailed discussion of pigments and the application of paint layers are presented. The technical examination of the National Gallery paintings also included taking x-radiographs and infrared reflectograms.

The seven paintings examined include: The Mond Crucifixion, An Allegory ("Vision of a Knight"), The Procession to Calvary, The Ansidei MadonnaSaint John the Baptist Preaching, The Madonna of the Pinks, Saint Catherine of Alexandria.


artists' materials, binder, gesso, imprimatura, painting techniques, pigment, Raphael, Renaissance

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Raphael's Early Work in the National Gallery: Paintings before Rome, Ashok Roy, Marika Spring and Carol Plazzotta (PDF 20.74MB)

To cite this article we suggest using

Roy, A., Spring, M., Plazzotta, C. 'Raphael's Early Work in the National Gallery: Paintings before Rome'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 25, pp 4–35.

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