Technique and condition
The form of the head was initially washed-in with grey, after which the modelling was elaborated and strengthened with paint of increasing thickness and a richness of texture achieved by using different brush types and a variety of application procedures; liquid linear 'drawing', impastoed paint of a creamy rounded nature, and dry lightly dragged scumbles. Some applications to the white field colour were added at a relatively late stage which overlap and soften the contour modelling of the head.
Apart from very minor deformations in the canvas plane, the painting was in very good condition at the time of acquisition and did not appear to have warranted any remedial attention since being painted.
The frame design had been approved by the artist, indeed he requested that one of the same design be used and substituted for that around the slightly earlier painting, 'Study towards and Image of James Joyce' 1977, which the Tate had acquired in 1979. The artist also considered that the glass in the frame added a, 'peculiar illusory dimension' to the presentation of the painting in addition to its function of protecting the painting from long term soiling.