In this altar-piece of the Virgin, Child, and Saints, the expression of religious sentiment in a material age may appear somewhat affected, but it indicates for us the painter's spiritual attitude towards his sacred subject.
This composition is perhaps the most beautiful of its kind in the galleries. The painting is of the primitive order. The white gesso ground, as with the Flemish painters, is a passive agent, kept free for the lights, like white paper in watercolour painting. The darks are applied thickly with much varnish, so that they stand higher up on the surface of the panel than do the lights.
It is drawn with the resolute outline usual with the Gothic painters, and with later decorators, and is then prepared in a brown and black monochrome. The colours are glazed over the lighter passages, and, in the case of the St. Jerome, semi-opaquely modelled.
There are signs in the drapery at the right bottom corner of a change in its arrangement. Here it is of little importance, but it demonstrates the danger of such changes in any prominent part of a work. The oil dries out of the colour in the course of time, and the pigment is thereby so thinned as to become transparent.
The " Ecce Homo ! " of Guido is painted over a white and grey ground, very thinly and freshly, with every indication of having been accomplished at one sitting over the dry preparation, judging
by the running paint of the shadows washed over the lighter ground, and by the frank little touches beside the tearful eye. ' A small Gainsborough head of his daughter in the he British Section is very like this in execution, and it is interesting to compare them.