John Downton The Nurse and Child c.1970

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Artwork details

Artist
John Downton 1906–1991
Title
The Nurse and Child
Date c.1970
Medium Tempera on wood
Dimensions Support: 353 x 346 mm
frame: 525 x 528 x 55 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Presented by the John Downton Trust 1998
Reference
T07389
Not on display

Technique and condition

The painter has used a single softwood panel as a support. He applied a gesso ground to the panel, possibly built up in several layers and finally scraped or sanded smooth. It is sufficiently thick to cover the wood grain, but ridges produced by the method of smoothing, run perpendicular to the wood grain.

The paint appears to consist of an egg tempera medium mixed with dry pigments by the artist. Large clumps of pigment particles give the paint a gritty appearance. The paint has been applied thinly by the artist in repeated small brush strokes with some use of thin washes. A thin, transparent brownish layer on top of the ground is visible through the thinnest areas of paint and at the edges of the forms. This plays an important optical role across the whole painting and may be an imprimatura or a method of sketching out the forms. The painting has not been varnished.

The painting is in good condition the only problem is some very small scale cracking of the paint, typical of egg tempera. In some areas these cracks are raised and tiny losses of paint have occurred. Most of these have been retouched in the past.

The painting has a reverse moulding softwood frame with a dark stain and varnish. It is glazed.

Sam Hodge
May 1998

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