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One of the Benaki Museum's most recent acquisitions is an icon of the Virgin and Child. In the central area the Virgin is depicted holding the Christ Child in her right arm, while the upper section of the integral frame shows the Deesis with two angels on each side, and the two vertical sides have busts of apostles and saints (fig. 1,2). The main distinguishing features of the icon are the relief haloes of Christ and the Virgin, as well as the three-sided raised frame. The texture and elaboration of the haloes are very similar to those in works with gesso haloes. The icon was restored in the Benaki Museum workshops in 1994. At the same time its techniques and materials were studied with the aid of specialised photographic methods; the paint surface was examined with a stereo-microscope and an analysis of the pigments was made from cross sections of the paint layers. The icon has suffered mistreatment on at least two occasions in the past, the first probably in the 19th century, when damaged sections were subjected to overpainting, resulting in the deterioration of the design and the colours (fig. 2). The more recent occasion was in the 20th century when, among other things, the Virgin's facial features were sketched directly onto the scraped ground. Infra-red photography confirmed the presence of the original paint layer under the first overpainting, for example on Christ's face (fig. 8), and revealed the artist's freehand sketch drawn with a brush on the ground (fig. 10) as well as the incised preliminary drawing (fig. 9). Examination and photography of the paint surface with a stereo-microscope identified the icon's individual morphological and technical features. The faces are triangular or long and narrow, while that of Christ (fig. 17) and of the angel in the Deesis (fig. 15) are more rounded. A broad brown brushstroke is used to give shading to the lower eyelid and add depth to the eye socket. A thick orange line just above the nose emphases the transition from the nose to the forehead, and, below, a white bifurcation serves as the point of departure for sketching the eyebrows. The bridge of the nose is rendered with bright white highlights (fig. 14), and the most noticeable feature of the mouth is the raised extremities of the lips, of which the upper is longer than the lower. Line and chiaroscuro combine harmoniously in the execution of the faces. On the green underpaint a thick brown line, followed by a thinner black one, combine to form a kind of shadow, which is narrow and merges subtly into an orange brushstroke, the so-called "flesh tints" (fig. 15). The flesh areas are rendered with broad unbroken planes of light colour which terminate in broad white highlights (fig. 14). The artist uses two methods for rendering the drapery folds. The first is characterised by a sharp distinction in the levels of colour, i.e. the juxtaposition of contrasting shades and the clarity of the drapery line, for example in the use of yellow pigment on Christ's brickcoloured chiton (fig. 19). In the second method there is a tonal gradation in the rendering of the clothes with the use of two shades of the same colour, each retaining its independence - for example two successive shades are exploited on the deep azure garments, to which white highlights are added (fig. 21). The artist uses black pigment for rendering depth in the central composition, the relief haloes and the raised frame, and red pigment for the contour of the haloes and the letters of the saints' inscriptions (fig. 23). A detailed observation of the samples in a metallographic microscope revealed the artist's working methods as regards the successive layers of colour and the mixture of grains of pigment. Analysis of the samples was carried out in the Institute of Geology and Metallic Sciences in Athens using an electronic microscope and microanalysis. The following pigments were identified: orpiment, haematite, haematic ochre, cinnabar, ultramarine, azurite, green earth, lead white, bone black and graphite. Mention should be made of certain special features regarding the use of the pigments: a section taken from the Virgin's maphorion displayed an unusually large variety of pigments in the underpaint (haematite, ultramarine, bone black and lead white) and an individual way of using them in the same layer of colour (fig. 24). In a cross section from Christ's face green earth, lead white, orpiment and haematite were identified (fig. 26). The fact that for the rendering of the flesh areas this specific proportion and mixture of pigments was used shows the particular importance of the role played by orpiment in the artist's overall handling of the work. The technical examination of the work revealed its most distinctive features to be the combination of a freehand and incised preliminary drawing, the relief haloes and the painter's individual manner of execution. The handling of the pigments displays obvious knowledge of their behaviour and great skill at mixing them, features which have been observed during similar research into other 13th century icons. The technical analysis has thus confirmed the dating of the Benaki Museum icon to the 13th century, but the identification of the geographical area in which the painter was active has proved somewhat difficult in view of the limited availability of published comparative technical data.