Infrared reflectography undertaken during Graeme Barraclough’s extensive conservation treatment of Boticelli’s The Trinity with Saints Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist (around 1491-94) revealed an earlier position for Tobias and the Angel, with the figures painted to a high level of finish. These small scale figures, like many other aspects of the painting, are rather inconsistent and their characteristic handling led Dr Scott Nethersole to attribute them to Filippino Lippi. Other features of the painting point to a rather long production history, suggesting the altarpiece may have been initiated in the 1470s, with significant involvement of the studio and revision by Botticelli, including replacing Lippi’s figures with a more prominent, larger scale Tobias and the Angel.
The painting will form part of a special exhibition at the Courtauld in 2023. To find out more about the conservation and art historical research undertaken at the Courtauld go to: The Trinity with Saints Mary Magdalen and John the Baptist – The Courtauld
Or listen to the fantastic podcast Conservation at The Courtauld: Rediscovering Sandro Botticelli’s ‘Trinity Altarpiece’ – Courtauld Cast | Podcast on Spotify where Clare Richardson describes the process of infrared reflectography.