|A detail of the inscription seen from the front of the painting|
However, during the removal of lining papers from the back of the paintings, on a light table, we noticed another tiny inscription! Even though it was impossible to translate, it was still clear enough to see that it was reversed and had originally been written on the front of the painting prior to any colour being applied. As old paper linings were removed from the paintings many more tiny notations gradually became apparent.
|These images have been flipped so we can see how the characters were written beneath the current paint layer|
It seems likely that these were instructions to a team of artists on what colour to apply? With such a commission it would not be unusual that an artist sketches out the painting first and is then assisted by others to apply colour and further decoration.
We will continue to research their possible relevance and hopefully confirm our supposition.