Samuel H. Kress Collections Research:
Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, c. 1523-25
113 x 81.5cm, Oil on cradled panel
Photo: Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania, Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1961. (1960.10)
Giuliano Bugiardini’s Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist, part of the Samuel H. Kress collection at the Allentown Art Museum, is among the artist’s best known works, most of which depict the Virgin and Christ Child with the infant Saint John the Baptist. Although a prolific artist, Bugiardini’s creative process has not been studied. Recent technical examination and restoration of the painting by Nica Gutman Rieppi, Associate Conservator for the Samuel H. Kress Program in Paintings Conservation, provided an opportunity to observe some of the artist’s painting techniques, to identify some of his materials, and to gain a better understanding of his studio practice. During the initial visual examination of the painting, brushwork unrelated to the final image was observed prompting a more detailed investigation using a variety of analyses including stereomicrography, x-radiography, infrared reflectography, cross-section examination and fiber optics reflectance spectroscopy. Various changes in the composition, made both in the preparatory drawing stage and during the build-up of the paint layers were revealed. Comparison with his earlier painting of the same subject, the Madonna and Child with Saint John at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, helps us better understand the changes identified in the Allentown painting and illustrates the artist’s formal evolution.
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