Technique and condition

Red on Maroon is one of a pair of narrow panels in the group of nine Seagram Murals. It was originally painted to hang high over a doorway in the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York and now hangs adjacent to its pair.

Red on Maroon is painted on heavy cotton duck. The fabric was stretched over a light-weight strainer made of thin lengths of rough finished softwood timber that are held together with minimal joints sustained by screws driven through the tacking edges beneath the fabric. Crossbars are braced at the inner edges of the outer bars and because of this, maintain the large expanse of fabric at constant tension.

The cotton duck is prepared with a wash of rabbit skin glue and dry pigments that formed a deep maroon stain. Once this was dry and the fabric was taut, Rothko painted the rich maroon field in acrylic and the figure in thin washes of oil, acrylic and possibly glue size, layering orange red, maroon and brown scumbles in thin overlapping layers to obtain a flickering indistinct edge.

Red on Maroon was lined in the mid 1960s in New York.

Mary A. Bustin
September 2000