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The Master of the Story of Griselda and Paintings for Sienese Palaces

Jill Dunkerton, Carol Christensen and Luke Syson
Technical Bulletin Volume 27, 2006


Two sets of panel paintings showing secular subjects and made for Sienese palaces in the 1490s are discussed. The first group of three panels, so-called 'spalliere' illustrating the Story of Patient Griselda from Boccaccio's 'Decameron' are all in the National Gallery. They were painted by the anonymous master who takes his name from the panels. Although his identity has yet to be discovered, the name of the patrons, the Spannocchi, and the date of the marriage for which the panels must have been commissioned have been established.

Examination of the paintings has revealed distinctive underdrawing, extensive decoration using gold leaf applied to a mordant of gum ammoniac and a painting technique using both oil and egg tempera for different pigments, colour areas and special effects. The second set consisting of eight panels showing Virtuous Men and Women is now dispersed among museums in the United States and Europe.

They were painted by a team consisting of the leading Sienese artists of the day, Francesco di Giorgio, Matteo di Giovanni, Neroccio de’ Landi, Pietro Orioli and the Master of the Story of Griselda. Examination of the panel structure of all eight panels and technical examination by x-radiography, infrared reflectography and where possible examination and analysis of paint samples, makes it possible to propose a reconstruction of the original arrangement of the panels. In addition, issues of attribution and workshop collaboration are clarified with the identification of distinctive underdrawing and painting techniques for each of the artists.


Francesco di Giorgio, gum ammoniac, infrared reflectography, Master of the Story of Griselda, Matteo di Giovanni, mordant gilding, Neroccio de’ Landi, painting techniques, panel paintings, Pietro Orioli, Renaissance, Siena, spalliere, underdrawing, workshop collaboration, x-radiography

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The Master of the Story of Griselda and Paintings for Sienese Palaces, Jill Dunkerton, Carol Christensen and Luke Syson (PDF 28.3MB)

To cite this article we suggest using

Dunkerton, J., Christensen, C., Syson, L. 'The Master of the Story of Griselda and Paintings for Sienese Palaces'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 27, pp 4–71.

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