Technique and condition

The support is a very fine, plain-woven, linen canvas. When acquired by the Tate in 1995, it had a lining and stretcher which appear to date from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. The lining-glue is unusual, being composed of red lead with chalk in an oil medium.
The ground is pale grey with a smooth surface. It extends over onto the tacking edges, though not across the whole width. Here and there in the composition, the face for example, it has been left visible as a tonal element.
The paint is almost certainly solid oil throughout and is generally opaque, dense and thin. It is evenly applied with little evidence of brushwork, except in the purple cabbage leaves where the thin, largely monochrome paint has been worked to resemble the veining. On the whole each element in the composition is described in one layer of paint, exceptions being the detailing and the warm, glazed shadows on the foreground gourds and marrows. One of the features that is consistent with three, well documented paintings by Bacon in a private collection is the superimposition of small things over large, for example the reddish brown root vegetables which are clearly painted on top of the background wall and landscape.
Generally the painting is in very good condition and is currently undergoing cleaning and relining.
Rica Jones
December, 1997.