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on Mary's mantle (in relief, deciphered with infrared reflectography): ENIHS*O IO*EEPRS I*MO[?]S*SIE*E OE O*EI


Possibly commissioned for a convent or church in Valladolid, Spain.[1] Before 1919, José María de Palacio, Conde de las Almenas, Madrid;[2] sold 28 March 1919 to (Frank Partridge and Sons, Ltd., London).[3] Dr. Preston Pope Satterwhite [1867-1948], New York, by 1933;[4] possibly purchased by (French & Co., New York).[5] purchased 1941 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York;[6] gift 1952 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Exhibition of Spanish Painting, The Brooklyn Museum, 1937, no. 7.
Spanish Paintings, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1937, no cat.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951, 178, no. 78.

Technical Summary

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.


Mayer, August L. Geschichte der spanischen Malerei. Leipzig, 1922: 145 (also Spanish ed. Madrid, 1942: 166).
Post, Chandler Rathfon. A History of Spanish Painting. 14 vols. Cambridge, Mass., 1930-1966: 4, pt. 2:418-428.
Clifford, Henry. "Great Spanish Painters: A Timely Show." Art News 35 (17 April, 1937): 9.
Brans, J. V. L. Isabel la católica y el arte hispanoflamenco. Madrid, 1952: 130-132.
Gaya Nuño, Juan Anotonio. La pintura española fuera de España; historia y catàlogo. Madrid, 1958: 274, no. 2274.
Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1959: 262, repro.
Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1965: 86.
Gudiol y Ricart, José. "El Pintor Diego de la Cruz." Goya. 70 (1966): 208-217.
Cuttler, Charles D. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Brueghel. New York, 1968: 254.
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 75, repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 224, repro.
Eisler, Colin. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: European Schools Excluding Italian. Oxford, 1977: 177-178, 181, fig. 182.
Abrams, Richard I. and Warner A. Hutchinson. An Illustrated Life of Jesus, From the National Gallery of Art Collection. Nashville, 1982: 42-43. color repro.
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 142, no. 143, color repro.
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 256, repro.
Wheeler, Marion, ed. His Face--Images of Christ in Art, New York, 1988: 126, no. 26, color repro.
Brown, Jonathan, and Richard G. Mann. Spanish Paintings of the Fifteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1990: 101-104, color repro. 103.
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 70-71, no. 52, color repro.

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