El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)|
El Greco (painter)
Greek, 1541 - 1614
Saint Ildefonso, c. 1603/1614
oil on canvas
overall: 112 x 65.8 cm (44 1/8 x 25 7/8 in.) framed: 135.4 x 89.9 x 6.7 cm (53 5/16 x 35 3/8 x 2 5/8 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
Object 6 of 8
Conservation NotesThe original support is a coarse, plain-weave fabric. Before 1937 the tacking edges were flattened, and the picture was lined to a larger, medium-weight, plain-weave fabric. The white ground layer and the dark red imprimatura do not conceal the weave texture. X-radiographs reveal that the ground layer is applied roughly; striations indicate that the artist may have used a palette knife or small trowel. The imprimatura was left exposed in several places, notably along the edges of the saint's left arm and hands. The paint was applied in a moderately thick, textured paste with translucent layers in the table covering and the Madonna's robe. The original right and left tacking margins are covered by daubs of paint; those on the right were left exposed after the recent treatment. Small areas of loss are scattered throughout, but significant losses of paint are confined to the edges of the original picture surface. The painting was cleaned and treated in 1988.
 Pigment analysis in September 1987 detected lead white, iron oxide, and possibly red lead in the red table covering. X-ray fluorescence cannot detect the crimson lake dyes assumed to have been used in the glaze. Red lake pigment, which gives a purplish hue, was mixed with lead white and azurite in the blue robe of the saint, which may also contain blue verditer and ultramarine. The yellow highlights of the hem of the Madonna's robe are probably lead-tin yellow, mixed with yellow ochre and possibly massicot. On El Greco's blue pigments, see Susanna Pauli, "Two Paintings by El Greco: Saint Martin and the Beggar. Analysis and Comparison" (forthcoming publication, conservation department papers, National Gallery of Art).
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