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After restoration, Rijksmuseum's 'Virgin and Child' turns out to be by Lucas van Leyden
Lucas van Leyden, Virgin and Child, ca. 1530.
AMSTERDAM.- A restoration of the painting ‘Virgin and Child’ has uncovered new facts which attribute this artwork once again to Lucas van Leyden (1494-1533). Dendrochronological research had shown some time ago that the panel dated from around 1530 and came from the same tree as the wings of his famous triptych ‘The Dance around the Golden Calf’ from the same period.

Reddish brown hatchings
Underneath past restorations, however, restorers recently discovered more sophisticated elements, shading effects and depth than were previously visible. An underdrawing in the shape of reddish brown hatchings was discovered in the shaded part of the Virgin’s face, which can also be seen in other works by the same artist. The ‘draughtsman-like’ way of handling paint – which was very typical of Van Leyden – was also partly evident once again.

Technical examination
Towards the end of his career Van Leyden produced a few paintings of the Virgin and Child, of which this is one example. While the panel was acquired in 1949 and attributed to Lucas van Leyden, doubts arose later about the attribution and the work was catalogued to ‘Lucas van Leyden’s workshop’. During the recent restoration, when the yellowed varnish and disturbing retouches were removed, it became clear to what extent the painting had been damaged over the centuries. However, a technical examination demonstrates that the colour palette and the structure of the layers of paint seamlessly fit in with what we know about Van Leyden’s other paintings. Ultimately, a subtle yet dynamic shading effect around the Virgin’s hands and the Christ Child’s body appeared under the over-painting.

Apart from the restored painting, the Lucas van Leyden, Restoration & Attribution presentation also includes several prints of the Virgin and Child by Lucas van Leyden. On exhibit in room 0.3 of the Rijksmuseum.

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