Technique and condition

Painted in oil paint on a fine linen canvas of a standard French size. It is primed with a light grey oil ground and thought to be attached to the stretcher with tacks, although these are hidden by canvas-backed strips of sand paper which are adhered to the tacking edges.

The original portrait was painted with a glossy, drying oil paint, likely to be a household paint such as Ripolin as used by Picabia at this time, onto which collaged elements were applied while the paint was still wet. The paint has wrinkled in places as a consequence of uneven drying between paint layers. In the later reworking of the portrait, the detachment of the collage material has exposed areas of bare canvas where the paint and ground layers have been removed. The replaced combs have been adhered to the paint surface with a discoloured adhesive which is visible on the surface and has penetrated through to the reverse of the canvas. Some original collage material - the string in the hair, bow-tie and measuring tape - remains embedded in the paint. The female portrait appears to have been painted in artists' oil paint in contrast with the earlier work. Later modifications by the artist to the black painted colour field overlap onto the attached sanded canvas strips, thereby suggesting that these were adhered to the edges of the canvas by the artist himself.

An uneven application of varnish has later been applied to revive sunken areas of paint. On acquisition a new frame was constructed, textured to imitate the strips along the painting's edges.

Jo Crook
June 1997