Technique and condition

The painting was executed in oil colours on a single piece of linen canvas which is glued to a piece of 5mm thick board. There are pin holes visible in the canvas along the top and right edges, which suggests it was attached to a different secondary support during the application of paint. At some point after the painting had been completed, the canvas was cut down and adhered to the board. The canvas was cut quite unevenly which is particularly noticeable at the bottom right corner, where the board is visible even when the painting is framed. It is possible that this was carried out by the artist herself, although this is not known for sure. The signature in the top left corner appears to be original which might suggest this cropping was original. The canvas was probably first sized with a thin unpigmented layer of animal glue, followed by a white oil priming over which the paint was then applied. The ground is of reasonable thickness and the texture of the canvas weave is still apparent through it.

The paint was applied by brush in a fairly loose manner, mainly in thin layers, although the brushstrokes in the fan and sitter's face have an appreciable thickness. The painting had been varnished, probably with a natural resin, as part of an earlier restoration. There were also a number of far more discoloured areas on the paintings surface (i.e. beneath the varnish) which were probably remnants of an older and original varnish (although it is also possible that they were medium-rich retouchings). Either way, the degree of discoloration was considered disturbing to the painting. The varnish and discoloured regions were therefore removed and a clear and stable synthetic varnish was applied.

It is not known whether the frame is original. The painting is in overall good condition. The canvas and board support have remained structurally sound and the only damage to the paint layers has been some minor wear. The area of missing canvas in the bottom right corner has been retouched to mimic more closely the surrounding paint colour.

Tom Learner
September 1997