Technique and condition

The artist chose a 4mm thickness five-ply paper board of grey colour for his support, most probably 'Essex' board which was used by several artists at that period, both as a support and as a protective backboard for canvas paintings. The board appears to have no opaque ground layer covering its face and priming of the board may have consisted of no more than a token sealing layer of a medium such as size.

An ink underdrawing is visible and late paint layers are in general of fludily applied thinned paint. Much of the paint is of a transparent or translucent nature but subsequent absorption of the medium by the board (despite the artist's use of a paint which was relatively rich in medium) can be expected to have left the paint surface unevenly matt and difficult to 'read'.

The painting surface had been saturated with layers of varnish before the painting was acquired by the Tate. The paint film was thought to be in relatively good condition at the time of Tate accession but the thick, uneven varnish applications had suffered some minor abrasions, in part due to there being no separating slip between the frame's glass and the painting. The board support had been adhered to a 25mm thickness panel of late twentieth century foamboard, presumably to correct a deficiency in plane which it appeared to be doing satisfactorily.

The frame in which the painting was accessioned is similar to those on many paintings from the early 1940s and in all probability is the original frame.

Peter Booth
1994