The discovery of an oil painting in seriously damaged condition with an important historical and a heterodox detail with possible origins in the late fifteenth century has afforded the opportunity for Raman microscopic analysis prior to its restoration being undertaken. The painting depicts a risen Christ following His crucifixion in a ‘noli me tangere’ pose with three women in an Italian terrace garden with a stone balustrade overlooking a rural landscape and an undoubted view of late-medieval Florence. The picture has suffered much abuse and is in very poor condition, which is possibly attributable to its controversial portrayal of a polydactylic Christ with six toes on His right foot. By the late sixteenth century, after the Council of Trent, this portrayal would almost certainly have been frowned upon by the Church authorities or more controversially as a depiction of the holy. Raman spectroscopic analysis of the pigments places the painting as being consistent chronologically with the Renaissance period following the identification of cinnabar, haematite, red lead, lead white, goethite, verdigris, caput mortuum and azurite with no evidence of more modern synthetic pigments or of modern restoration having been carried out. An interesting pigment mixture found here is that of the organic dye carmine and cinnabar to produce a particular bright red pigment coloration. Stratigraphic examination of the paint fragments has demonstrated the presence of an orange resin layer immediately on top of the canvas substrate, effectively rendering the pigment as a sandwich between this substratal resin and the overlying varnish. The Raman spectroscopic evidence clearly indicates that an attribution of the artwork to the Renaissance is consistent with the scientific analysis of the pigment composition.
This article is part of the themed issue ‘Raman spectroscopy in art and archaeology’.
One contribution of 14 to a theme issue ‘Raman spectroscopy in art and archaeology’.
- Accepted May 31, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.