Technique and condition

Painted on a primed 3mm thickness hardboard support. The hardboard had been reinforced originally by being pinned to a wood batten framework but by 1989, when acquired by the Tate, these battens had been replaced by a softwood canvas stretcher attached to the board with a synthetic resin wood adhesive.

The artist has indicated that the hardwood support's face was sealed with a rabbit-skin glue size before the application of the oil bound lead white ground layer. This layer is vigorously brushed and does not effect a complete coverage of the board. The artist also recorded that the greater part of the painting was in Ripolin, a commercially prepared household paint, but that isolated use was made of a relatively coarse pigment/oil paint made up by a London paint shop. Standard artists' oil paint may also have been used. Small pieces of gold and silver leaf have been incorporated in the design.

The hardboard support had already suffered some minor damages at the corners and along the edges when it was acquired by the Tate, this damage most probably having prompted the attachment of the stretcher to the reverse of the cardboard. The repair and retouching of damage to one corner had probably been carried out at the same time. After acquisition by the Tate the artist requested that another relatively small corner damage be repaired. The artist also expressed some disappointment at the dulling of the surface of the silver leaf that had occurred since completion of the painting. Some areas of the painting had been varnished since leaving the artist.

The artist had not seen the painting for several years but was generally pleased with its appearance and condition but had some reservations about the form and colour of the relatively new frame. This frame with his co-operation was replaced in 1989 with one closer in appearance to the original oak frame.

Peter Booth