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Man of Sorrows

Paduan School

Man of Sorrows, 15th Century

Tempera and Oil on Panel


Gift of Dr. William S. Serri 

The Man of Sorrows is most likely a product of the 15th century Paduan school of painting. This group of painters was founded and trained by Francesco Squarcione. Squarcione is credited for training other successful Renaissance painter, such as Andrea Mantegna, Marco Zoppo, and Giorgio Schiavone. The Paduan style is marked by a plasticity of form, hard, sharp brushstrokes, and a return to antique (classical) inspiration. While there are no works reliably attributed to Squarcione himself, many pieces are credited to his workshop and its resulting Paduan style. 

Condition of the Artwork (2009): 

The bottom panel boards has split at the join to the upper board at 14 ½” from the bottom edge. There is a partial split, 15” wide at 8 ½” from the bottom edge, extending in from the right edge. There is a partial split, 21 ½”w, at 7 ½” from the bottom edge, extending in from the left edge. There is a partial, 18”w horizontal split at ½” to 1 ½” from the bottom, extending in from the right edge. There is a partial 26” w split at three inches from the bottom edge, extending in from the right.“The two sections of the bottom panel board each have pronounced convex warping. The reverse of the panel has been thinned and mounted on a 5-member wooden strainer. Long triangular wooden wedges have been fitted to the reverse of the panel, horizontally along the vertical strainer members. This appears to have been a 19th or early 20th century attempt to correct warping. 

There are numerous old worm tunnels in the frame and in the reverse of the panel. No evidence of active infestation could be found on the reverse, but on the front of the painting, in the lower right corner, numerous small frass deposits could be found clinging loosely to the varnish film. This indicates that an active infestation is present. The blue-grey background paint has been heavily abraded by previous cleanings, some of the abrasions have been poorly inpainted. 

Ultra violet light reveals old repaints along the splits, in the upper 3” to 7” of the panel, in the robes of the figure at left, and in many other small spots scattered overall. More recent, poorly matched inpainting is visible along the bottom edge, and partially covering losses along the split. There are paint losses and a few areas of active paint flaking along some of the splits. The gold halos have been heavily abraded. Gold trim in the red cloak at right has been abraded. 

Conservation Treatment Proposed: 

  • The painting and frame must be fumigated to prevent the spread of wood eating insects in the collection. Have the painting fumigated before it is sent anywhere for conservation treatment.
  • Complete cleaning, repaint removal and inpainting was, in consultation with the director, not felt to be needed at this time.
  • Consolidate area of flaking paint along splits in the panel. Remove/reduce any surface grime.
  • Fill and inpaint paint losses along the splits with conservation quality materials.
  • Possibly apply a light finishing varnish overall, in consultation with the curator.
  • All materials used will be appropriate and conservation quality. All work will adhere to the highest standards of the field.

Estimated Cost of Treatment: $2,500.00