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Construction of the panel - initial examination of the back

Back of a tall narrow wooden panel, with reinforcing batons across the width

The back of the painting

What can the back of the painting tell us?

This photograph of the back of the painting shows the original construction of the panel. It is made from three vertical wooden boards glued together. Wooden cross batons were then attached with large nails driven through from the front of the panel. Finally, vegetable fibres were glued onto both sides of the panel.

extreme close up of the fibres glued onto the panel

Detai of fibres on the back of the panel

What are the vegetable fibres for?

Spanish panel makers knew that panels made of several boards could sometimes break apart at the joins and rupture the painted surface. By attaching the cross batons and fibres they made sure that the joins were held together as securely as possible. The St Michael panel is about 500 years old and the join at the right side has never broken open.