National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Marriage at Cana Master of the Catholic Kings (artist)
Spanish, active c. 1485/1500
The Marriage at Cana, c. 1495/1497
oil on panel
overall (original painted surface): 137.1 x 92.7 cm (54 x 36 1/2 in.) overall (with addition at bottom): 153.1 x 92.7 cm (60 1/4 x 36 1/2 in.) overall (with added border strips): 155.7 x 95.8 cm (61 5/16 x 37 11/16 in.) framed: 184.8 x 130.5 x 12.7 cm (72 3/4 x 51 3/8 x 5 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1952.5.42
On View
From the Tour: Netherlandish and Spanish Altarpieces in the Late 1400s and Early 1500s
Object 5 of 6

Conservation Notes

The original support is composed of two vertically oriented planks of pine. The lower 16 centimeters is constructed of four pieces of vertically oriented fir wood of unequal width, which have been attached to the bottom of the original support.[1] Narrow strips of wood have been added to the edges of the composite panel, and a modern cradle has been attached to it. The damage to the paint surface across the lower edge of the original panels suggests that the four blocks added at the bottom may have replaced a destroyed part of the original composition. The original support is covered by a thick, white ground probably composed of two layers. X-radiographs show fibrous inclusions (grass?) in the ground. The fibrous inclusions seem to be confined to the lower layer; it is supposed that there is a second, thinner ground layer without fibers above. The composition was extensively underdrawn on the original support, in a black liquid, probably applied with a brush. The major figures and such details of the setting as the bed were fully cross-hatched in the underdrawing, while the background figures were only indicated with sketchy contours. Several minor changes can be noted between the drawn and painted stages, including the shape and position of the Virgin's nose, the features of the man lifting his cap, and the bride's right sleeve. In the underdrawing, two diagonal lines extend from the goblet to the groom's right hand. The straight borders of the brocade at the right were incised. Oil paint was applied in a series of carefully controlled layers, with glazes and finely applied details modifying the underlayers. The support is basically solid, although the addition of the blocks at the bottom has caused some cracks to form in the original planks. There are minor losses of paint along the left edge and elsewhere. The eyes of the dog were damaged in 1979.


[1] The woods of the original support and the added pieces were analyzed by Michael Palmer, NGA scientific department.

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