National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Christ among the Doctors Master of the Catholic Kings (artist)
Spanish, active c. 1485/1500
Christ among the Doctors, c. 1495/1497
oil on panel
overall (original painted surface): 136.2 x 93 cm (53 5/8 x 36 5/8 in.) overall (with addition at bottom): 155.2 x 93 cm (61 1/8 x 36 5/8 in.) framed: 183.5 x 128.9 x 12.1 cm (72 1/4 x 50 3/4 x 4 3/4 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1952.5.43
On View
From the Tour: Netherlandish and Spanish Altarpieces in the Late 1400s and Early 1500s
Object 4 of 6

Conservation Notes

The original support is composed of three vertically oriented pieces of pine. An addition approximately 19 cm tall, consisting of several pieces of pine with vertical grain, is attached to the bottom of the original support.[1] The irregular line of damage along the lower edge of the original support suggests that the addition may have replaced a destroyed part of the original composition. A modern cradle is attached to the composite panel. The original support is covered by a thick white ground probably composed of two layers. There appears to be a thicker, lower layer with fibrous inclusions (grass?) and a second, thinner ground layer without fibers above. The ground on the added pieces has a markedly different composition from the ground on the original support. The composition was underdrawn on the original support in a black liquid, probably applied with a brush. Broad parallel and cross-hatched strokes define the figures and primary details of the setting in the underdrawing. A downward shift in the eyes, lips, and nose of the Christ Child is the only major change between the underdrawing and the painting. The main lines of the architecture were incised in the ground layer. A thin, brown imprimatura is thought to cover the ground beneath the paint layer; the tonality of the imprimatura was used as a base for the faces of the doctors, but elsewhere is covered over with thick opaque paint. Oil paint was applied in a variety of techniques, ranging from carefully built-up opaque layers with some slightly raised brush texture to thin, translucent glazes. The painting is in stable condition, although the panel is penetrated by cracks and checks. X-radiographs indicate scattered losses of paint.


[1] The woods used for the original support and additions were analyzed by Michael Palmer, NGA scientific department.

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