Technique and condition
The paint was applied exclusively by brush in a very fluid manner, often in rather thin and translucent layers, and the open-weave texture of the canvas remains very apparent through much of the painting's surface. The paint may have been diluted for this, which would account for the emergence of a number of minor drying cracks over the painting's surface. Although there are some isolated areas of impasto, principally in the book and the outlines of the main forms, such as around the figure's sleeves, these are not of any real thickness. There are some brushmarks in the book which do not correspond to the final composition, which suggests a slight modification to the composition beneath. The brown painted border was probably the last area to have been painted and the paint used for this appears a slightly thicker paint to the rest. The painting is signed and dated ('24) in the bottom left hand corner.
The painting appears to be varnished, although the present coating is not thought to be original to the work. The wooden frame is gilded with a strip of canvas attached to the front of a flat section. 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. A combination of previous poor environmental conditions and the frequent re-tensioning of the canvas has resulted in the draw marks which are now seen principally in all four corners. However, the paint is well adhered to the canvas support, and if the painting is now kept under stable conditions the likelihood of further damage should be drastically reduced.