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Rogier van der Weyden. "Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin". On the Occasion of the Completion of the Restoration


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Rogier van der Weyden (circa 1400–1464) was one of the outstanding artists of the 15th-century Golden Age of Netherlandish painting, a pupil of the celebrated master of the Northern Renaissance Robert Campin, and worked in Brussels. He introduced the theme of revealing human emotional experiences into painting in the Low Countries and had a considerable influence on his contemporaries and successors.

At the present time, four versions of the painting Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin are known around the world. One is in the State Hermitage, the other three are in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, Germany, and the Groeningemuseum in Bruges, Belgium. Our painting entered the Hermitage in an unusual manner. It had at some time been divided into two parts. The right half, depicting Saint Luke, was acquired in 1850 from the collection of King William II of the Netherlands, who had married a daughter of Tsar Paul I – Anna Pavlovna. The left half, with the depiction of the Virgin and Child, was bought in 1884 from the Parisian antiquarian Antoine Baer. It came from the collection of Queen Isabel II of Spain, who lived in exile in France.

During the time it has been in the Hermitage, the painting has undergone several restorations. In 1854 Feodor Tabuntsov cradled the part depicting Saint Luke (adding wooden reinforcements on the back of the panel to prevent deformation). Then, in 1867, that same half was transferred from panel to canvas by Alexander Sidorov. In 1884, after the acquisition of the other half of the painting, the same restorer transferred that from panel to canvas and joined it back together with the first part.

In early 2013, after the painting had been examined under infrared and ultraviolet light and X rayed, and the composition of the materials in the paintwork, both original and added later, work began on the restoration of the picture. These researches entailed the use of scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy(SEM/EDX), gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and polarized light microscopy (PLM).

The restoration took until late 2015 to complete. The work was freed of multiple layers of heavily darkened varnish. Old restoration paintwork and putty overlapping the original artist’s painting were removed. Areas where the original painting has been lost were tinted. A new reconstruction in keeping with the original composition was carried out on the extensions added during19th-century restoration.

  • Title: Рогир ван дер Вейден. Святой Лука, рисующий Мадонну. К завершению реставрации
  • Title (English translation): Rogier van der Weyden. "Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin". On the Occasion of the Completion of the Restoration
  • Language: Russian
  • Publisher: Hermitage
  • Place of Publication: St. Petersburg
  • Year of Publication: 2016
  • ISBN: 978-5-93572-676-8
  • Size: 24х27 сm
  • Pages: 164
  • Cover: soft cover
  • Illustrations: color ill.
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