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Provenance

M. Dubois, Amiens. (Galerie Sedelmeyer, Paris). Private collection, New York. (American Art Association, New York, 17 and 18 May 1934, no. 132, repro., as by Gerard David);[1] Chester Dale [1883-1962], New York, May 1934; gift 1942 to NGA.

Bibliography
2008
Vanwijnsberghe, Dominique et. al. Autor de la Madeleine Renders. Brussels, 2008: 228, no. 100.
Technical Summary

The panel is made of a single piece of oak, cut tangentially, rather than radially.[1] There are unpainted edges on all sides of both front and back, and a barbe or raised edge of paint where the designs end. The ground layer on both sides is pale yellow in color and extends beyond this painted edge. There is a fine, dry underdrawing visible with infrared reflectography and with the naked eye, especially on the front of the panel. The paint is thinly applied; however, an underpainting of a light iron-red color under the bluegreen robe of the donor and the saint's prayer book gives these areas a thicker build-up of paint. Cross-sections taken from front and back were analyzed by Hermann Kühn of the Doerner Institut, Munich, in 1963. The painting was further analyzed at the Gallery in 1983-1984 by means of x-ray fluorescence, microscopy of crushed pigment samples, and microscopy of cross-sections.

A fine, predominantly vertical crackle penetrates both paint and ground layers. A fair amount of abrasion of the paint layers has occurred along these cracks. Traces of paint layers now partially missing are visible under the microscope in the brown and green areas of the front and in the background of the back. There are small scattered areas of inpainting. In 1943 the front and back of the panel were cleaned and a layer of black paint was removed from the back, revealing the figure of Saint Margaret. Remnants of this black paint can still be found on the back, and there are some rather similar residues on the front as well.[2]

[1] Because of the angle at which the panel was cut, it proved impossible to measure the growth rings for dendrochronological dating.[2] The patient and perceptive work of Laurent Sozzani, Sarah Fisher, Beatrix Graf, and Eugena Ordonez of the department of painting conservation and of Barbara Miller, conservation scientist, served as the basis for these notes.