Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium weight linen canvas, attached to a stretcher with (original) copper tacks. The canvas was a commercially prepared one, with a white oil-based primer probably applied over an initial layer of animal glue size. Once the fabric was attached to the stretcher, the artist applied an additional (and thicker) white priming layer to the stretched face of the canvas, which would have slightly reduced the texture of the canvas weave at its surface.

The oil paint was applied entirely by brush, apart from a small area at the intersection of the two colours in the background to the right of the sitter's head, which is more characteristic of a palette knife. The paint has a buttery texture, and was probably used unmodified straight from the tube. The paint is mostly opaque and predominantly matt, with much use made of a wet-in-wet technique. In many areas the paint has been built up with several layers resulting in a considerable total thickness. The resulting surface is heavily brushmarked and there is a complete absence of any canvas weave texture.

There is no evidence of a varnish layer. The frame is gilded, but heavily toned down with dark brown paints, and is original to the work; a label on the back of the frame reads, framed and glazed according to the artist's wishes. The painting is in excellent condition. The canvas is taut and continues to provide good support to the paint layers above. The paint layers themselves are not exhibiting any cracks or other signs of damage. The presence of glazing on the frame and a backboard at the rear has given good protection to the painting, and it should now remain in this state for a considerable period of time.

Tom Learner
September 1997