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Following the success of the initial project, we succeeded in securing funding from the KT Wiedemann Foundation to go further in our analysis.
This generous funding allowed us to go to Italy to view other pieces thought to be by the same Master and to conduct a full scientific analysis of the only other Gualino sculpture outside Italy: St Agnes at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, USA.
Questions remained unanswered – particularly the authenticity and purpose of an under-drawing which was discovered during the conservation of the sculpture in phase one of the project, and whether the palette and techniques found in the original polychrome layer were comparable to other pieces in the Gualino group. Testing our data against others in the Gualino group was the next step in order to be able to gain a more meaningful insight into workshop practices in 14th-century Italy.
Infrared imaging confirmed the presence of under-drawing directly on the wood in three areas where wood is exposed:
A sample analysed using a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) confirms this to be carbon-based.
Binding media analysis was not possible due to constraints of analytical equipment at our disposal.
Working with conservators at the ISGM, St Agnes was analysed using the following techniques:
Paint samples were brought back to the UK for analysis included in a student project by Jerome Castel, supervised by Lore Troalen.
A joint paper on the results comparing methods and techniques on our two sculptures and those viewed in Italy is planned for 2022.
Watch this space to find out whether we did find any evidence that these sculptures were made by one artist and whether we think that the ‘Master of St Catherine of Gualino' existed.