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An investigation of 'Saint Michael and the Dragon'

painting of a man in armour with angel's wings standing over a dragon and raising his sword

Lady Lever Art Gallery collection

Spanish artist, 15th century, oil on panel

Accession number LL3424

Conservation staff have carried out a thorough investigation of this painting. Relatively little had been known about it beforehand. The original 15th century painting was not even visible, as it had been overpainted in the 19th or early 20th century.

How did we investigate the painting?

In order to establish the condition of the original paint layers the painting underwent a full technical examination, which included

  • x-radiography
  • infra-red reflectography
  • pigment and medium analysis
  • paint layer build-up using reflected and transmitted light microscopy.

These techniques help us see what is going on beneath the surface of the paint, including the original underdrawing, and tell us more about how the painting was made and what it is made of.

A conservator wearing a specialist visor cleaning the dragon in the painting

Unexpected discoveries

The investigation has revealed a great deal about the painting, including a rather unexpected way in which it was used. Follow the links below to read more about the findings.