National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Annunciation Jan van Eyck (artist)
Netherlandish, c. 1390 - 1441
The Annunciation, c. 1434/1436
oil on canvas transferred from panel
painted surface: 90.2 x 34.1 cm (35 1/2 x 13 7/16 in.) support: 92.7 x 36.7 cm (36 1/2 x 14 7/16 in.) framed: 102.2 x 55.9 x 8.9 cm (40 1/4 x 22 x 3 1/2 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.39
On View
From the Tour: Netherlandish Painting in the 1400s
Object 3 of 9

Conservation Notes

The painting was transferred from wood to canvas after it entered the Imperial Hermitage Museum, Leningrad, probably after 1864.[1] The picture has been extensively restored, though it is hard to say whether this was necessitated by the transfer or by previously existing conditions. Areas of craquelure have been repainted and the repaint has discolored; this is most evident in the background. Repaint is also present in portions of the angel's face and hair and in the Virgin's blue robe. It appears that large portions of the top glaze of the Virgin's robe have been lost and the surface has been altered by mechanical or chemical actions. The unsightly appearance of the robe is compounded by the fact that in certain areas the varnish has become opaque and milky. There are small losses in the book and the cushion.

Examination with infrared reflectography discloses underdrawing in several different areas. Parallel hatching and clusters of longer strokes can be seen in the Virgin's robe. Underdrawing exists in the face and hair and a portion of the wing of the angel Gabriel. The hem of Gabriel's robe bears an illegible inscription.[2] What appear to be perspective lines go through the capitals of the triforium at the left, and these indicate slight shifts of perspective. A diamond-shaped grid is underdrawn on the floor in the area depicting David slaying Goliath. There are broad indications of shadows at the edge of Gabriel's robe and thinner lines indicating shadows at the left of the stool.


[1]. In the 1850 sales catalogue of the collection of William II the painting is recorded as being on wood, and Waagen 1864, 115, gives the support as wood. The earliest Hermitage catalogue available to me, that of 1870, lists the picture as having been transferred to canvas at the Hermitage.
[2] First observed by Carol Purtle. The author and Molly Faries, communication of August 1984, have noted that the first word is close to the cabalistic AGLA, which appears in the Ghent Altarpiece; see Panofsky 1953, 210-211; Elisabeth Dhanens, Van Eyck: The Ghent Altarpiece (New York, 1973), 75.

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