Technique and condition

Patrick Caufield’s Interior with a Picture was painted in acrylic emulsion on canvas. The support comprises of a single piece of cotton duck canvas that was attached to an expandable softwood stretcher with wire staples at the rear. Once stretched at least one layer of white acrylic emulsion gesso was applied by the artist as a priming to the front and edges of the canvas.

Caufield has produced a range of effects and surfaces exclusively using acrylic emulsion paint. As Caulfield puts it, 'you can do anything with acrylic. In one painting I can do different styles' (Crook, Jo and Learner, Tom, The Impact of Modern Paints, 2000, Tate Publishing Ltd.). The background wallpaper mimics a flocked paper surface, ‘I copied the wallpaper you see in Indian restaurants, and I bought a roll of it from a shop in Brewer Street.’ The red pattern in the wallpaper is raised slightly by small dabs of impasto paint. The artist has also incorporated blue highlights into the effect, ‘I wanted to give it a bit of a lift without the blue I thought it would be too flat.’

The painting in the subject was copied from an illustration of Meal by Candlelight by Gotthardt de Wedig (1583-1641). The illustration was squared up using cotton thread and enlarged slightly onto the canvas. Many of the straight edges were created with the assistance of masking tape. The oval shape beneath the dado rail was made by squeezing a white acrylic texture paste directly from the tube and following a line previously marked on the surface. This was then painted over with colour after it had dried, ‘which took a bit of time, usually over night, because it was so thick’. Caulfield found that the thickly squeezed line of paint had to be done with the painting positioned on the flat, ‘and you have to work out if you can reach! It is very difficult to keep the pressure on the tube consistent’. Minor irregularities were clearly part of the effect too, ‘I don’t mind it not being precise, as it’s really representing plasterwork which chips – instant patina!’

The painting is not varnished and a new L-section frame was made soon after its acquisition.

The painting is in excellent condition but it is vulnerable to scratches and finger marks and therefore should always be displayed behind a barrier.

Tom Learner
August 2000