Technique and condition

The drawing was executed on a thin smooth paper support, attached to a sheet of thick, off-white wove paper and backed with a canvas lining stretched over a wooden frame. It is likely that Rothenstein completed the drawing before any subsequent mounting onto the additional supports. There is no visible evidence of pin holes and one supposes that the secondary support was later added to provide some rigidity to what would have been a weak and vulnerable large piece of paper. It is probable that the paper would have undulated dramatically during painting and the additional paper support would assist in flattening the drawing. Evidence of the restrictive handling characteristics of this thin paper is apparent in the creases in the paper, formed during the execution of the drawing.

The figure was sketched out first with charcoal sticks and pastel crayons, then the background was painted in bronze paint. The brown paint used for the shadows was applied last and the numerous marks, drips and runs found throughout the background appear to be a combination of intent and accident, while creating a decorative contrast to the central figure drawing. The extent to which the bronze paint has tarnished is presently unknown, particularly where there are additions of brown paint. Certain areas have been retouched with bronze powder, or possibly gold paint, most noticeable over the area of extensive structural damage along the left hand edge.

The process of attaching the paper supports to the stretched canvas may have been carried out after completion of the drawing and possibly by a picture framer. This act is largely responsible for the present structural damage, such as the dramatic splits in the paper supports. Other damages include stab holes, various losses and water stains, which are less easy to explain, particularly as the picture has been glazed for a considerable time. An assessment of the drawing on acquisition proposes structural treatment to the support and frame to improve the picture's immediate environment.

Calvin Winner
November 1997