National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Baptism of Christ Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar (artist)
German, active c. 1475/1510
The Baptism of Christ, c. 1485/1500
oil on panel
painted surface: 104.3 x 169.7 cm (41 1/16 x 66 13/16 in.) support: 105.7 x 170.4 cm (41 5/8 x 67 1/16 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1961.9.78
On View
From the Tour: 15th and Early 16th-Century Germany
Object 5 of 8

Conservation Notes

The painting is composed of four oak boards with horizontal grain, joined with a block and four-dowel system.[1] The boards have been thinned. There are unpainted edges at the top, bottom, and left sides. A backing board, also oak, and a cradle have been attached. The smooth white ground is covered by a striated isolation coat containing lead-white. Examination with infrared reflectography reveals extensive densely hatched and crosshatched underdrawing in the figures, which appears to have been done with a brush. A good deal of this underdrawing is visible to the naked eye. Traces of gold leaf can be seen in the musical instruments held by the foreground angels and in the censer held by an angel. There are extensive flake losses throughout, most noticeably in the lower half of the angel playing a vielle. There are small, scattered losses in the figures of Christ and John the Baptist. In addition, the paint surface has suffered from abrasion, and it is likely that glazes are missing. What was originally gold leaf in the background has been largely replaced by gold-colored paint. In 1905 the painting bore a false Lucas van Leyden monogram, which was probably removed before 1941.


[1] The wood was identified as oak by the National Gallery's scientific research department.

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