Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium weight linen canvas which is attached to a stretcher with wire staples at the back, which are hidden by frame. There is no attachment visible along sides. The staining of the canvas at the left and right edges suggests the presence of a thin size layer, probably an animal glue, which was applied before stretching. The stretched face of the canvas was then primed with a white pigmented oil ground layer, applied by brush in broad horizontal strokes. This layer is reasonably thin (the canvas weave texture is still evident) and has penetrated through to the back of canvas in many areas.

The painting was applied exclusively by brush in a very precise technique. The first layer was a uniform imprimatura layer of orange over the entire ground layer. The composition of the painting was then determined by sketching in the main outlines of the figures, food and furniture in pencil, before the subsequent application of the top paint layers. The forms of the figures and details of food on the table were painted with a fairly small brush. In many areas the pencil lines are still visible just around the paint. Although primarily opaque colours were used, some use was also made of transparent glazes over base coats to achieve a greater sense of depth. This is particularly noticeable in the deep reds of the meat on the table. For the background colour a wider brush was used to scumble the grey/green layer directly over the orange imprimatura. Although the paint layers are in general quite thin, there are some areas of reasonable and sharp impasto found mainly in the figures and food on the table. The gloss varies slightly between colours, but is always reasonably high.

The painting is not varnished. The L-section frame, which is probably the artist's choice, was made by John Jones and consists of a black stained hardwood side section attached to an MDF rear section. The painting is in excellent condition despite the slight slackness noticed in the canvas on its acquisition. However, there is no sign of any deterioration in the paint layers. A polyester sailcloth lining was recently attached behind the stretcher bars to increase the rigidity of the support and to prevent the onset of cracking in the paint layers caused by the canvas hitting the stretcher bars.

Tom Learner
October 1997