15th Century Painting Confirmed as Botticelli
Madonna of the Pomegranate will be on display at Ranger’s House in Greenwich from 1 April.
A painting long thought to be a later imitation of Sandro Botticelli’s famous Madonna of the Pomegranate has been revealed to be a rare example by the artist’s own workshop, English Heritage has revealed today.
The discovery was made while the painting was being cleaned by the charity’s conservators. The work’s true colours – hidden under more than a century of yellow varnish – will be revealed when it goes on display at Ranger’s House in Greenwich on 1 April.
Bought by diamond magnate Julius Wernher in 1897, Madonna of the Pomegranate (Madonna della Melagrana) (c.1487) is the closest version of the famous masterpiece by the Florentine master Botticelli, now in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Showing the Madonna and Christ Child flanked by four angels, the title refers to the pomegranate that is held by the Madonna and Child to symbolize Christ’s future suffering.
The assumption that the painting was a later imitation arose because of its variations in detail to the original and the thick yellow varnish that concealed the quality of the work. However, x-ray testing, infrared studies and pigment analysis have revealed that the painting is from the very workshop in Florence where Botticelli created his masterpieces.
'Too Similar to be an Imitation'
Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage’s Senior Collections Conservator, said:
'Being able to closely examine and conserve this painting for the first time in over 100 years has really given us the chance to get up-close and personal with the paintwork. I noticed instantly that the painting bore a striking resemblance to the workshop of Botticelli himself; stylistically it was too similar to be an imitation, it was of the right period, it was technically correct and it was painted on poplar, a material commonly used at the time.
'After removing the yellowing varnish, x-ray and infrared examination revealed under-drawing, including changes to the final composition uncommon in straight imitations. After consultations with our colleagues at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery London, we are finally able to confirm that Madonna of the Pomegranate is from the Florentine workshop of master painter Sandro Botticelli.'
Latest News from
Bob Marley Awarded English Heritage Blue Plaque02/10/2019 09:25:00
Renowned Jamaican singer-songwriter joins the likes of Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, George Frideric Handel and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Help us Save England's Wall Paintings25/09/2019 09:25:00
With irreplaceable centuries-old paintings at risk, English Heritage is appealing for donations to conserve our country’s painted history.
Roman 'Pendants' Revealed to be Ancient Makeup Applicators18/09/2019 12:37:00
Rare Roman cosmetic sets shown in English Heritage's new History Inspired Makeup Tutorial are on display at Wroxeter Roman City for the first time.
Writer Martha Gellhorn Receives English Heritage Blue Plaque03/09/2019 12:43:00
The Knightsbridge home of war correspondent, journalist and writer Martha Gellhorn - who was also the former wife of Ernest Hemingway – now features a blue plaque in her honour.
Modern Britons Seek Solace in Mythology26/07/2019 09:25:00
Study finds that, in uncertain times, people find comfort in folklore, myths and legends.
Names of 400 First World War Conscientious Objectors Revealed For The First Time19/07/2019 14:33:00
The most comprehensive list of conscientious objectors at Richmond Castle is unveiled in a new museum.
Missed The Summer Solstice? Enjoy a Live Stonehenge Sunrise All Year Round21/06/2019 13:33:00
Stonehenge Skyscape brings an ancient spectacle to a global audience.
Installation of Tintagel Castle's New Bridge Begins19/06/2019 13:47:00
English Heritage project enters final phase as sections of new bridge arrive in Tintagel.
Contemporary Art Exhibition Opens at Stonehenge23/05/2019 15:28:00
Conversations in Making is the first contemporary art exhibition at Stonehenge Visitor Centre, and features 40 silver and copper vessels made by applied artist Linda Brothwell. It will be open daily to visitors from 24 May – 24 November 2019.