Beneath the Surface

Investigate what's beneath the painted surface through conservation analysis.

Saint George
Tricking the Eye
with Pastiglia
Painting with
Silver and Gold

Over time, much of the gold leaf eroded to reveal the red bole beneath. Bole is a clay rich in iron oxide; made into a paste, it provides a layer to which gold leaf adheres.


The conservator restored abrasions in the area near the rocky cliffs with careful in-painting.


A vertical area of damage appears at the lower right side of the work.


Restoring the gold leaf helps us to see more clearly the artist's original intentions.

Conservator Gianfranco Pocobene on conserving the painting (transcript)

For a 550-year-old painting, the Gardner’s Saint George Slaying the Dragon could have been in worse shape. Still, a crack marred the lower right side. Delicate gold leaf had worn away from its surface and the aging varnish gave the painting a faded yellow patina. Saint George was due for a facelift.

Gianfranco Pocobene, John L. and Susan K. Gardner Chief Conservator, cleaning Saint George Slaying the Dragon.