- Oil paint on canvas
- Support: 914 x 610 mm
- Presented by the executors of the estate of David Wilkie 1993
Technique and condition
The painting was executed in oil colours on a single piece of medium-weight linen canvas supplied by Russell and Chapple. It is attached to a wooden stretcher with copper tacks at regular intervals around the tacking margins (both of which are original). The stretched face of the canvas was primed by the artist first with a thin layer of unpigmented size (probably an animal glue) followed by a thin layer of white primer. The artist recalls this priming to be an egg medium, although analysis identified a mixture of an animal glue and drying oil (with titanium white and chalk as the principal inorganic components). It is possible that the animal glue comes from the size layer. The white priming is visible through some of the thinner areas of paint, such as the thin green used at the lower part of the left edge.
The paint is oil and was applied exclusively by brush in a very fluid and possibly quite vigorous manner. The brushstrokes are mostly broad and much use was made of a wet-in-wet technique. The paint is generally matt and opaque. Most areas consist of at least two layers of paint with the occasional build up reasonable impasto in the figures. There is some indication of a few minor compositional changes to the work during its execution. For example, there is a strong horizontal brushstroke in Apollo's stomach, which may have corresponded to the initial placing of the drapery which is now found lower down his body.
The painting is not varnished. The painting was acquired unframed. Although generally in a very good condition, it was felt that the painting was quite sensitive to environmental fluctuations and mechanical abrasion. It was therefore decided to frame it to ensure that its condition was preserved for as long as possible. The present frame was made with the artist's approval in 1994.
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