One side of the present panel depicts the Visitation, a specific composition which Claeissens returned to in a signed version that has yet to be located but is known from photographs. The incredibly free and spirited underdrawing beneath the present version, with its multitude of pentimenti in the face, hands, and drapery of both Anne and the Virgin, suggest that it may be the prime version of the composition.
The technique of the underdrawing (fig. 1) can similarly be compared with other preparatory marks from known Claeissens’ works, for example a signed Saint John at Patmos (private collection) and a Saint Ursula in the Museo de Belles Artes in Oviedo. In each case Claeissens employs a completely distinctive frenzied underdrawing approach, while also utilizing a characteristic pattern of short and long parallel lines to denote shaded areas.
We are grateful to Anne van Oosterwijk for endorsing the attribution to Claeissens, based on examination of the IRR images and color digital photographs.
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