Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium-weight, commercially-primed linen fabric, whose threads have a rather uneven thickness. This piece of fabric was stretched around an expandable softwood stretcher with a second piece of (unprimed) linen fabric (a 'loose lining') and both piece of fabric were attached together along the edges with copper tacks. The commercial priming has been analysed as an acrylic emulsion gesso material.

The paint is oil paint and appears to have been applied in a variety of techniques over the stretched face of the canvas. The first layer was the very thin background colour, which exhibits a smooth gradation from black through blue to a yellow-green and was possibly applied with a spray gun. Certainly no brushstrokes are visible in these areas. Then the red colour was applied. In the central region it is much thicker and appears applied by brush and was probably used straight from the tube, but it also extends right to both ends over the initial thin applications of colour. Here it is only present at the peaks of the canvas texture, which may indicate the use of a roller and a very dry, lean paint. Then the thicker black paint was applied, which appears to have been vigorously applied and quickly worked into the canvas with a combination of brushes, palette knife and the ends of brush handles. A dark 'prussian' blue layer was also applied in the same way. The result is a variety of surface textures and layering, with instances of each paint layer remaining distinct but also areas of two or more colours being blended together. In addition, the paint has sometimes been scraped right back to reveal the white of the priming. The overall uniformity of gloss suggests that the painting was then lightly varnished and the current 'two-level' batten frame is thought to be the original.

The painting is in excellent condition, with the stretcher and combination of two canvasses providing exceptional support for the paint layers. The paint itself appears in pristine condition.

Tom Learner
July 2000