Technique and condition

The painting was executed in oil paint on a solid support, which is comprised of two pieces of plywood, separated by a frame made from half inch wooden battens running around the outer edges. Both pieces of plywood have been glued and pinned to the batten frame. The surface of the support is completely flat, apart from a few areas around the edges where either the plywood has been nicked (particularly the bottom edge), or the pins have started to work their way out of the support and are now slightly visible through the paint layers.

The paint has been applied directly to the front piece of plywood, with no overall priming layer visible. The paint appears to have been applied by brush (brushmarks are visible in most colours) and in many areas directly from the tube. The paint layers have been built up using mostly a wet-on-dry technique, which would have required considerable time between the application of subsequent layers. Several instances of pentimenti are also visible, for example the green and brown diagonal stripes run all the way up into the top left corner, beneath the large yellow triangle now visible. The painting of the stripes appears to have been carried out freehand, with no sign of the use of masking tape or other similar aid. Both opaque and transparent layers are used with most exhibiting appreciable (and fairly even) gloss, without the subsequent application of a varnish layer. Although the artist is known to have used a thixotropic alkyd medium (Liquin by Winsor & Newton) later in his career to even out the gloss of the various paints he used, it is not thought that this occurred for this painting.

The painting is in very good overall condition, with no apparent paint loss. Although a number of areas along the bottom edge appear as paint losses, but on closer inspection these correspond to nicks in the support which have affected the uniformity of the subsequent paint application and are therefore part of the original image. A slight layer of dirt was removed from the painting's surface and this has restored considerably some of the vitality and intensity to the colours.

Tom Learner
July 1997