National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Profile Portrait of a Lady Franco-Flemish 15th Century (painter)
Profile Portrait of a Lady, c. 1410
oil on panel
painted surface: 52 x 36.6 cm (20 1/2 x 14 7/16 in.) overall (panel): 53 x 37.6 cm (20 7/8 x 14 13/16 in.) framed: 74.1 x 61.3 x 5.4 cm (29 3/16 x 24 1/8 x 2 1/8 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.23
On View
From the Tour: Netherlandish Painting in the 1400s
Object 1 of 9

Conservation Notes

The panel supporting the paint surface has been thinned, set into another panel with a 5 mm rim all around, and then cradled. The panel supporting the paint surface has an old, repaired split running from the bottom edge up through the hat to the right of center. Although the present painted surface comes to the edge of this panel, what appear to be the original ground and support occupy a slightly smaller area (48.6 - 48.8 x 31.7 - 32.1 cm) clearly visible in the x-radiograph. The pronounced horizontal crackle within this smaller area does not extend beyond its borders. This crackle pattern and the tear-like appearance of another disturbed area at the bottom left, visible in the x-radiograph, suggest that the ground may have been laid on paper or parchment.

Infrared reflectography reveals what appears to be an underdrawn design delineating the ear, some hairpins, and individual strands of hair in the coil over the lady's ear. These delicate strands follow the line of the coil, rather than forming the horizontal bands of crimping visible on the surface. Traces of an underdrawn brocade pattern were also detected in the robe during examination with infrared reflectography.

Microscopic examination shows extensive repaint.[1] The profile and the eye, nostril, lips, and ear have been repainted, though they seem to correspond to the old outline visible underneath. The gold of the pins is repaint. The hat is totally repainted over heavy damage. The back of the coiffure is totally repainted. The white fur and collar appear to be old, but with some repainted areas. Whereas most of the gold on the robe is new, the abraded blue of the robe is apparently not repainted except for a damage in the left corner. Most of the gold on the beads is new, yet there are residues of old gold underneath. The necklace and belt are apparently made of metallic foil, possibly attached by small nails or brads in the case of the necklace. There are scattered damages in the background, which appears to have been entirely toned over to bring it into conformity with what are presumably later additions at left, right, and top edges.


[1] The paint has not been analyzed to determine whether it is oil or tempera based. However, the present paint layer appears to be oil based, with the texture of the white paint in the hair suggesting the use of an emulsion medium there, according to Kay Silberfeld who undertook the technical examination of the painting.

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