Technique and condition

The painting was executed in oil colours on a single piece of light-weight linen canvas which is attached to a pine stretcher with copper tacks, neither of which are original. The width of the original stretcher bars was likely to have corresponded to the severe linear cracks now seen in the paint approximately 40mm from the top and bottom edges. The canvas is now fairly weak and brittle and its edges have been strengthened with the attachment of strips of a stronger linen canvas.

The canvas is not primed and the paint was therefore applied directly to the fabric. On the reverse of the canvas the stained outlines of the forms are clearly seen, which were formed by the soaking in of the oil medium and indicate that the composition was established on the canvas. The paint was applied exclusively by brush in a very fluid manner, often in thin layers which barely cover the canvas, but also in brushstrokes of appreciable thickness, especially at the main outlines of the forms. The painted border was probably one of the last areas to have been painted and the paint used for this appears a slightly thicker paint to the rest. It is likely that originally this border would have been parallel to the outer borders of the stretcher.

The painting is varnished and this layer is possibly the original. It is now rather yellowed. The painting is signed and dated in the bottom left corner. The wooden frame is gilded. It is not known whether it is original to the work. The painting is in overall fair condition, despite the rather weak and brittle nature of the canvas and the development of several cracks in the paint layers. The painting has been treated at least once in the past to secure areas of loose paint. However, the paint now appears well adhered to the canvas support, and if the painting is now kept under stable environmental conditions and is protected from mechanical abrasion the likelihood of further damage should be dramatically reduced.

Tom Learner
October 1997