Technique and condition

George Lambert painted A View of Box Hill, Surrey in 1733. It was executed on a single piece of linen canvas with a plain 1 x 1 weave. The linen was coated with a thin layer of grey, oil based primer applied evenly and without texture. There is no evidence of initial preparation or underdrawing.

The composition is built up using opaque to semi-opaque oil paint with some transparent browns. Throughout the sky there is a slight amount of texture visible imparted by the wide sweeping brushstrokes used to lay down the base colour. Impasto is minimal and seen only in the more thickly applied paint of the highlights. Forms are defined by visible brushwork with little blending. No initial drawing or preparation is apparent. A pentimenti is visible where the figure yielding the scythe has been repositioned to be facing right.

Previous to entering the collection the painting was taken off the original stretcher and placed onto a smaller one. The excess canvas at left and right was folded onto the back of the stretcher and the painting secured with tacks applied through the painted canvas. Extensive paint loss occurs along the fold over edge and around the tack holes. Stretcher bar cracks corresponding to this smaller auxiliary support are visible. The appearance of the paint film has been affected by many areas of blanching. In most instances, the hazy, whitish effect is only mildly disturbing. However, there are areas of severe blanching that appear to be related to a particular green paint found in the hedge trees in the middle ground and as highlights on leaves elsewhere. Apart from the losses and blanching, the paint itself is in good condition. A general network of age cracks is present across the painting. The varnish has yellowed and decreased in its saturation. A light layer of dirt covers the front and reverse.

Julie Simek
October 2001