National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saint Anne with the Christ Child, the Virgin, and Saint John the Baptist Hans Baldung Grien (artist)
German, 1484/1485 - 1545
Saint Anne with the Christ Child, the Virgin, and Saint John the Baptist, c. 1511
oil on hardboard transferred from panel
painted surface: 87 x 75 cm (34 1/4 x 29 1/2 in.) support: 89 x 77.6 cm (35 1/16 x 30 9/16 in.) framed: 110.5 x 100 x 7 cm (43 1/2 x 39 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1961.9.62
On View
From the Tour: 15th and Early 16th-Century Germany
Object 6 of 8

Conservation Notes

The painting support was thinned to a veneer and marouflaged to hardboard in 1953. Examination of the remaining veneer at the top and bottom edges indicated that the original support was spruce wood (sp. Picea).[1] The original support was probably comprised of five, or possibly six boards with vertically oriented grain. At the right side several long cracks suggest a sixth, very narrow plank, but there is no corresponding continuous crack on the surface to verify its position. There is a barbe at the top and bottom edges suggesting that the painting once had an engaged frame. The lateral edges are not original, but are fill material colored with wood stain.

Examination with the naked eye in flesh and white areas, and with infrared reflectography, reveals considerable underdrawing using a brush and what is probably black ink. Striations over the underdrawing, seen with the aid of a stereobinocular microscope, may indicate the presence of an intermediate, or isolation layer over the underdrawing, but the striations are not disclosed in the reflectograms.

The halos are mordant gilded, applied over the moderately thick white ground. Paint overlaps the edges of the leaf. The glazing and inscriptions are applied over the fold.

Relatively large areas of ground have flaked away, and corresponding areas of paint are missing, particularly along the cracks joining the boards. The painting also suffered generalized abrasion. There is extensive retouching in Saint John's halo, the central areas of the Virgin's halo, and much of Saint Anne's halo. Major areas of retouching exist in John's left thigh, the bottom of the child's left thigh and a portion of Anne's skirt just below it, the front of the lamb's torso, and in much of the sky at the upper left. It should be noted, however, that the background landscape is not heavily retouched and that faces and limbs are in generally good condition.


[1] The identification of the wood was made by the National Gallery's scientific research department.

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