Lot 9
  • 9

Florentine School, 15th century

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Saint John the Baptist;A bishop saint
  • a pair, both tempera on panel, gold ground


The following condition report has been provided by Karen Thomas of Thomas Art Conservation LLC., 336 West 37th Street, Suite 830, New York, NY 10018, 212-564-4024, info@thomasartconservation.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. A thick, markedly discolored varnish coats both pictures, suppressing the tonality and reducing the contrast overall. Moderate cupping along the age-related cross-grain cracks is seen on both paintings, with dirt embedded in the cracks. The paint layers of Saint John the Baptist appear to be quite well preserved. A few scattered losses, retouched and beneath the varnish, are visible as brownish daubs. Although the varnish is highly fluorescing under ultraviolet illumination, there do not appear to be any other significant losses or damages to the paint film. The gold leaf used in the mordant gilt decorative border on Saint John the Baptist's pinkish garment is somewhat worn, but the pattern remains legible. The Bishop Saint uses a variety of embellished gilding techniques, including deep punchwork in the bishop's mitre and elaborate sgrafitto in the chasuble. To create the illusion of woven and embroidered patterns in the chasuble, the entire region was underlaid with gold leaf, several colors of paint were applied to create shapes, and details and patterns were added by scratching the paint away to reveal the underlying gold. The paint atop the gold has suffered from flaking, particularly in the red lake paint, and the blue lozenges have darkened over time. Some but not all of the losses have been retouched, lessening the readability of the patterns. Painted areas of the Bishop Saint not painted on gold leaf, such as the face and white garment, remain well-preserved. Both of the vertically grained panels have been thinned and display a slight convex lateral warp. The reverse of both panels display wood worm damage. The only areas on the front that have been affected by the insect tunneling are the unpainted upper corners, where clearly visible large losses have occurred due to cavities beneath the surface, and possibly two vertical areas in the lower half of the Bishop Saint that display retouching. Cleaning the panels to remove the deep amber varnish would have a considerable positive effect on overall appearance, allowing the colors and intact brushwork to once again be visible, and potentially allowing the gold in the sgraffito portion to again have a reflective quality; reducing the appearance of the drying cracks in both panels and losses in the Bishop Saint would need to be addressed with retouching. Although the wood worm infiltration does not appear to be active, consultation with a structural panel specialist would not go amiss.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."