National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Ascension Johann Koerbecke (artist)
German, c. 1420 - 1491
The Ascension, 1456/1457
tempera on panel
overall: 92.7 x 64.8 cm (36 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.) framed: 117.1 x 85.1 cm (46 1/8 x 33 1/2 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1959.9.5
On View
From the Tour: 15th and Early 16th-Century Germany
Object 4 of 8

Conservation Notes

The painting is composed of three boards with vertically oriented grain. Reading from left to right, the boards measure 32.4, 21.65 and 12.5 cm across. The boards have been thinned. The painting has been cradled, and a wax coating applied. A dendrochronological examination conducted by Peter Klein indicated that the boards came from the same tree, which was probably felled 1410 +6/-4. The gold background was applied over a red bole, and various punches were used to form halos, rays, and what seem to be tongues of flame. A faint incised line defines the major contours and the rocks. The figures' draperies were apparently painted before their hands, and there is a certain amount of overlapping paint in these areas. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals underdrawing in what appears to be a liquid medium. In the draperies there are changes between the underdrawn outlines and the paint layer and alterations in the placement of Saint Peter's eye and nose. A painted edge approximately 1 cm wide on the left, top, and right is reddish brown or orange in color; similar edges are found in other panels from the altarpiece.[1]

In general the painting is in very good condition. The gilding has a fine overall craquelure and some restoration at the extreme left. Only a few discrete losses and retouchings are apparent in the painted areas, with the greatest amount of inpainting occurring in the robes of Christ, the Virgin, and Saint Peter. Unspecified restorations of the altarpiece are recorded as having taken place in 1516/1517 and 1533/1534, but there is no indication as to what degree the National Gallery's panel was affected, if at all.[2]


[1] As, for example, on The Presentation in the Temple and Christ and the Virgin Enthroned in Heaven (both Westfalisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster), which are also from the inner wing of the altarpiece. The outer wings have orange painted edges with gold floral motifs on the bottom edges.
[2] Sommer 1937, 14, citing the documents in the Staatsarchiv, Münster, Marienfelder Akten, I, 15b, 15d.

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