The panel painting ’’The Lamentation of Christ’’ from Norum church

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för kulturvård

Abstract: This thesis takes the challenge to investigate a series of attribution hypotheses concerning a panel painting of unknown master, possessed by the Norum church in Stenungsund (Västra Götaland county) in Sweden. The painting depicts the well-known theme of religious character; The Lamentation of Christ, and it possesses Northern Renaissance painting qualities (16th-17th century). The painting has been informally linked with the name of the German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder –among other schools and artists as well. Attribution of historical objects can be a complicated and highly demanding process. This thesis does not try to attribute a historical object, but rather to evaluate the attribution myths lying around it. Through this process, clarification of certain elements can constitute the framework of future attribution examinations. The study is based on an interdisciplinary method, combining art historical applications with the technical examination of the painting. The technical examination includes methods and tools employed by conservators, such as UV fluorescence, IR reflectography, X-rays radiation and microscopic analysis. Close inspection and application of advanced critical thinking are widely practised, and comparison studies with the oeuvre of Lucas Cranach the Elder and other great masters have been carried out throughout the whole thesis. A holistic perspective is taken under consideration and thus the thesis’s background philosophy is to examine the painting both in its tangible and intangible nature. However, the critical point lies on the interchange of the acquired knowledge through a creative process and the supervision of a student in art conservation. Three chapters constitute the main body of the thesis; the provenance studies are followed by an art historical analysis, which in its turn is succeeded by the technical examination of the painting. More specifically, the results from the investigation of the known background of the painting, makes the basis for the thesis’s outermost goals. Subsequently, substantial art historical applications evaluate the qualities of the painting, stress any possible non-matching or anachronistic elements found in it and put the painting in a wider art historical context. Finally, the concrete scientific examination provides the concluding results after they have been filtered through the theoretical basis of the art historical analysis.

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