Color Reconstruction

The color reconstruction is based on an analysis of small bits of paint that were extracted from selected areas of the painting, mounted in casting resin and then ground down to cross-section. A scanning electron microscope with electron dispersal spectroscopy capabilities was used to identify the elements present in each layer. With this information, the pigments were identified, even though in some cases only altered traces pigment remained.

The reconstruction is only an approximation of how the painting may have originally looked. The darkened azurite mantle of the Virgin is shown as a beautiful blue, modeled with darker folds. Her shirt is a pale mauve and the Child's shirt is yellow with copper resinate green shadows, mimicking one of shot silk. Similarly, the silver once used for the hem of the mantle and the sgraffito cloth of honor has been restored to its true color.

The restoration of the Madonna and Child and the color reconstruction were completed by Bruce Suffield, a former conservation intern at the museum.