Dating old paintings


Scattered on the walls are stencils, human hands outlined against a background of red paint. Though faded, they are stark and evocative, a thrilling message from the distant past. My companion, Maxime Aubert, directs me to a narrow semicircular alcove, like the apse of a cathedral, and I crane my neck to a spot near the ceiling a few feet above my head. Just visible on darkened grayish rock is a seemingly abstract pattern of red lines.

The third major collection that helped form the core of the National Gallery’s holdings came from Samuel H. Kress (1863–1955), whose philanthropy was continued by his brother Rush H. Kress (1877–1963). The greatest part of the Kress collection comprises a nearly encyclopedic assemblage of Italian paintings dating from the 14th to the 18th century, but it also included Spanish, French, German, and early Netherlandish pictures. Kress began to give paintings as early as 1939, but the majority came to the Gallery in the 1950s and 1960s.

Another view of the cliff behind which lies Chauvet Cave. The present entrance and the original or Paleo entrance are shown in red and blue respectively. The original entrance was closed, covered in scree which fell from the cliff above, more than 20 000 years ago.

Photo: adapted from Chauvet, Deschamps et Hillaire (1996)


Dating old paintings

Dating old paintings



larrabetzu.info