This painting had previously been restored and re-lined due to weakened canvas and surface damage, probably in Italy before it came to this country. This is quite normal for a painting of such an age.
Since arriving in Scotland it had again suffered extensive deterioration to the "new" canvas lining that had begun to shrink and rot, causing warping to the original canvas support and more loss of pigment and ground primer.
At some point in its history this had caused the whole painting to begin to fall from its stretcher and so apparently drastic measures were taken to save it. The entire painting was nailed from the front, through the paint and canvas with numerous carpet tacks fixing it to the stretcher outer edges and in the shape of a cross following the line of the inner stretcher bars!
First the areas immediately around the nail heads had to be faced with glued tissue to protect the adjacent pigment and original canvas. Then a facing was applied to the entire surface.
The carpet tacks were individually sawn from the stretcher beneath the old lining canvas using a micro hacksaw. Each nail head had then to be lifted from the front. There were over 60 tacks, some very close to each other.
The re-lining process