Tempera and gold on wood
Framed: 30.5 x 22.9 x 3.2 cm (12 x 9 x 1 1/4 in.); Unframed: 24.2 x 16.6 cm (9 1/2 x 6 9/16 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Henry White Cannon 1944.56
This picture has at times been seen as a forgery due to its seemingly excellent state of preservation and the simplicity of the composition. It was cleaned, retouched and re-varnished in the 1960s, giving in an even, shiny surface, hiding to some extent its original appearance. This treatment was probably undertaken to address the losses to the Christ Child's hair and the discoloration and abrasion of the Virgin's mantle. Also problematic is the restoration of the frame and sides of the panel, which obscure the age of the work.
However, both the panel itself and the pigments employed prove that this is a 15th-century painting---though of lesser quality than CMA's Virgin and Child Adored by Saints (1924.199). In particular, the Virgin's robe appears to have been painted originally with the pigment azurite, a less costly mineral pigment used as an alternative to ultramarine (made of powdered lapis lazuli). The use of this less expensive material, along with the picture's small size and simple composition, suggests that it was made by a member of Sano's workshop and not Sano himelf.
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