Technique and condition

The canvas utilised by the artist bears stamped markings at the reverse suggesting its previous use as yellow soya bean bagging. The lettering in these markings indicates a North American origin. The stretcher used by the artist had also been used before, its reverse face had once borne the tacked attachment of a canvas with a finer weave. After being tacked to the stretcher, the present canvas does not appear to have been sealed with layer of glue size in the usual way and when the artist applied the thin white oil ground layer it seeped through the canvas with little restraint. In 1988 an unusually thick deposit of grey-green dust was noted on the reverse of the canvas, presumably originating from the soya beans that had once been in contact.

The painting was carried out in an oil paint applied quite thickly in a paste-like consistency. The resulting impasto tends to be of a spiky nature or in the form of ridges at the brushmark edges.

At the time of Tate accession the thinness and porosity of the white ground layer allied with some defects in the stretcher were thought to justify preventative intervention. Thus, the canvas was removed from its stretcher and the reverse cleaned before reattachment to a new panelled strainer. The painting was surface cleaned and the frame strengthened, glazed and backboarded at the same date. Following his treatment the general condition and stability of the painting were regarded as good.

The painting has never been varnished. The frame in which the painting was acquired is believed to be the painting's original frame but would appear to be of nineteenth century origin. The frame had been cut down to fit the present canvas or one of similar size. The generally degraded state of the frame including the gold leaf and gesso on its face had been disguised and unified by the scumbled addition of a layer of burnt umber oil paint.

Peter Booth