Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of commercially primed, light-weight, plain-weave linen canvas that is stretched to its original expandable softwood stretcher and attached with copper tacks at the edges and rear. The commercial priming would probably have consisted of an initial unpigmented animal glue 'size' layer, followed by one or two coats of the white oil-based primer. The overall coating is very evenly distributed and relatively thin, so that the canvas texture is still apparent through it.

The paint is all oil paint that was used in a variety of consistencies, ranging from thick and paste-like to extremely dilute and fluid. The paint covers most of the stretched face of the canvas, however, there are small areas around each side where the ground is still visible from the front. Although a brush was used for many areas, the principal application technique was with a palette knife. This has resulted in very smooth surfaces in many areas, especially with the upper white paint used in many areas, through which no sign of the underlying canvas texture can be seen. Overall, the paint surfaces are actually extremely varied in texture, with areas of reasonable impasto and many areas where texture has been worked back into a paint layer, for example scratches and artist's abrasion. This is most apparent in the near-white vertical band that runs through the circle, over which a thin black paint has been applied that accentuates the scratches and marks in the white layer. Many areas exhibit an extremely complicated layer structure although in many areas just a single application was used. The technique was mainly wet-on-dry, with very little evidence of any blending of adjacent colours. The painting is unvarnished and the metal strips that serve as a frame are thought to be the artist's design.

The painting is currently in good condition, although the priming and paint layers are all rather brittle. Nevertheless, providing it is handled correctly and displayed and stored in appropriate conditions, the painting should remain in its present state.

Tom Learner
September 2000