Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium weight linen canvas, attached to a stretcher with thin 1 steel nails. The nails were hammered into the stretcher to about half way and then bent over to permit the fitting of the painting into its frame. The present stretcher is the original. The canvas was a commercially prepared one, with a white oil-based primer applied over an initial layer of animal glue size. The first layer of paint was a further white coat, which has not discoloured to the extent of the ground layer.

The coloured paint was subsequently applied over this. Two application techniques were used; brush and palette knife. The majority of areas seem to have been created by both techniques. Most of the paint was used in an unmodified form, probably straight from the tube, although there are a few areas around the sides which appear to have been painted with a slightly thinned paint, and much of it was applied using a wet-in-wet technique. There are one or two areas of minor cracking which are quite typical when a quicker drying layer is applied over a slower drying one which had not completely dried. The cracks would have appeared soon after the painting's completion.

There is a thin layer of varnish over the paint layers, probably a natural resin which has yellowed only very slightly. However, it is not felt to have discoloured sufficiently to justify a proper cleaning of the work. The frame is not thought to be original. The painting is in a very good condition, with the paint surface still vibrant. The canvas was slightly slack and it was not felt advisable to key out the stretcher any further. The painting was therefore re-stretched on its present stretcher and attached with stainless steel staples. The canvas was still strong enough not to need any reinforcing for this process. A slight build-up of surface dirt and a few fly spots were recently removed which has renewed the intensity of many of the colours.

Tom Learner
September 1997