In ‘Christmas miracle,’ hidden ‘ scenes from the Nativity, to be found in the medieval art of painting

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Just in time for Christmas, a hidden Nativity scene, it is discovered after she’s tucked away another work for the ages.

It is a work of art, which is believed to be around 400 years old and has been painted in the medieval style, showing the beheading of saint John the Baptist. It is painted on a piece of canvas spread over a wooden panel.

The art conservators at the Northumbria University in the united kingdom for the treatment of an X-ray of the work of art, and were surprised to find a different picture — with the angels, with halos, and a baby in a manger, and the outer edge of the structure, which appears to be stable.


In the painting, as it appears today. It depicts the beheading of st. John the Baptist.
(Northumbria University, as well as The Bowes Museum)

“It is very unusual for us to look at the paintings hidden in this way in a Nativity scene. this detail-and just in time for Christmas was incredible,” said Nicky Grimaldi, a senior lecturer in the conservation of fine art at Northumbria, in a statement.

The painting of the wooden structure had deteriorated significantly over the years, so the conservators, and the curators wanted to assess the damage, as well as the determination of the artwork’s background, or age.

“In the first phase, the majority of studies of this kind, is to perform an x-ray to understand what is going on beneath the layer of paint we see on the surface. It was then that we realized that there was more to the painting than we originally thought,” Grimaldi explained.

The X-rays showed a few numbers, such as the outline of one of the “three wise men”. As can also be seen in the outline of a baby in a manger, with a halo around his head.


X-rays of a medieval painting that showed a Nativity scene that was painted over the course of several centuries ago.
(Northumbria University, as well as The Bowes Museum)

“It was a common practice to apply gold leaf to these type[s] of religious paintings, and in the x-ray, we can see that the gold is present in the halo around the head of the baby,” Grimaldi said in a statement.

The next step will be to carry out a chemical analysis of the paint used in the work of art, with a small particle size are tested with the help of Northumbria’s state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, including a scanning electron microscope, energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, and infrared reflectography.

As Live Science reports, earlier this year, the details of the hidden images, were revealed in another painting, of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Virgin of the Rocks.” In this case, the hidden image was an earlier version of the same scene, but with characters in different positions.


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