Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea di Bartolo's Madonna and Child, a painting of c. 1410-15, is the central panel of a dispersed altarpiece called a polyptych. In Siena, Italy, wood dowels, fashioned from oak twigs, were used to align and join panels of an altarpiece, and the holes along the sides of the Madonna and Child provide evidence that there were other panels once joined to it. Three of the side panels associated with it are known. A fourth - Christ in Benediction in Detroit - cannot be linked with the other four panels with any certainty.

The Madonna and Child is in poor condition. The egg tempera paint layer was severely abraded by restorers long ago, and some pigments and media have faded, darkened, or changed color completely. In 1992, Bruce Suffield, a conservation intern at the Museum, undertook a thorough examination and treatment of the painting. Pigment samples were removed and identified, and then this information was used to recreate how the painting may have looked originally, as can be seen in the color reconstruction at the end of this article. Over time the azurite blue mantle of the Virgin turned black, the red lake component of her mauve colored blouse faded, the copper resinate green glaze (the only oil paint used at this time in Italy) of the Child's shirt turned brown, and the silver leaf for the cloth of honor and the mantle hem was reduced to traces of black silver sulfide.

Please note that in-kind support of this website project, a Room Temperature High Resolution Near Infrared Area Camera has been provided by Sensors Unlimited, Inc. for the museum's conservation laboratory.