Once assembled, the frame was jessoed and then a layer of red bole applied before it was gilded and burnished
It was a commission that took 3 years to complete and all done according to the guidance of Master Cennino Cennini as laid down in his "Il Libro dell Arte"
The frame design was taken from a period piece recently sold at auction in Doncaster which had both the form (the gothic tracery design) and the composition (the positioning of the figures) common to triptychs of the late 1400s
Having discovered that I am an artisan, not an artist, I strive to make things medieval using only the methods and materials used in the late 15th Century in England. So, when her grace, the dowager duchesse of Norfolk, Lady Elizabeth de Mowbray (née Talbot) asked me to make her a triptych worthy of her status for use on campaign and whilst travelling between her manors, I began to research what I could do, with what and how.
The figures were traced onto the gessoed ground of the panels and the tracery scored into the plaster with a blunt point. Then a mono-chrome underpainting of the figures was made which was later over painted using only authentic pigments available in the period, mixed as egg tempera.
Once the images were complete, the panels were mounted in the frames. After hinges had been added, the reverse sides were painted with the heraldic arms of the duchesse, lady Elizabeth, being the de Mowbray lions and the badge of the duchesse's family, the Talbots, shown as a Talbot war hound. The Marion symbol of a combined M and R (Mary Regina) were copied from a contemporary stained glass image and painted on the reverse sides of the wings.
The central figures of the main panel I photographed at one of the company's events, using two of the company's members to pose for the scene of the Visitation.
The frame was carved in oak and the surrounds made of steamed boxwood strips. The painting base was an oak panel jessoed using Cennini's traditional slaked lime and rabbit skin glue jesso mixture.
As with all such valuable pieces of religious art in the late 15th Century, the triptych then required a velvet lined tooled leather carrying case. This was constructed using period techniques and carved with the same heraldry as on the outside of the triptych. After completion, the leather was dyed using indigo and brazil wood dyes and parts of the armes painted with shell gold (powdered gold mixed with rabbit skin size).
I am happy to say Milady deMowbray is overjoyed with the result.
This was a popular theme in the Middle Ages, depicting the moment when Mary, mother of Jesus, goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. They are both pregnant with their respective sons and Elizabeth delights in feeling the unborn Jesus kick in Mary's womb.
The composition of this scene was based on the glorious Southern Germany painting by the "Master of MS", an unknown late Medieval painter. Much of the symbolism and detail of the fore and background was copied from this image.
Being an artisan and not an artist, I have not the skill to execute the required drawing of the subjects, so in a nod to latter day technology I did photograph the major subjects in order to trace out the figures for the wings. As Fiona and Nick Boyle commissioned the piece (Fiona being the Duchess in the company) it was only natural that they should be shown as the donors in the contemporary pose of kneeling in prayer.