possibly late 1800s or early 1900s
Tempera and gold on wood
Unframed: 50.5 x 35.4 cm (19 7/8 x 13 15/16 in.)
Bequest of James Parmelee 1940.536
On initial examination, this work seems typical of 15th-century Italian panel paintings. However, recent technical examinations concluded that it is actually a skillful early 20th-century imitation of a 15th-century gold-ground picture. The composition resembles examples of the same subject by Sano di Pietro, but x-radiography showed that modern nails secure the framing elements of the panel. The infrared reflectography examination revealed a very simple cross-shaped underdrawing in Christ's head, used by the forger to center a compass when marking Christ's halo and to define the placement of the facial plane. Pigment analysis identified modern paints throughout the work. For example, the 18th-century pigment zinc white—not gypsum or lead white as expected in a 15th-century picture—was evident in all areas tested, indicating the modern pigment's presence in the ground layer. In addition, scholarship suggests that some of the decorative punch patterns in the gilding are identical to those found on known forgeries by Icilio Federico Joni. This painting is a forgery, very likely by Joni.
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