Technique and condition

The support is a single piece of fine, plain-woven, linen canvas, attached to a five bar, wooden stretcher. This stretcher, though original, looks like a composite; the two uprights are wider than the three horizontal bars, a feature which may result from the moment during painting when the artist decided to reduce the width of the image by about six inches/ 15 cms. (The flaps of original canvas on the back of the uprights have a row of tack-holes and traces of paint matching the background and costume). Sometime recently, before acquisition by the Tate, the support was lined with a coarsely woven, linen canvas attached to the original with a waxy-looking adhesive, perhaps a starch 'compo' paste impregnated with wax as a moisture barrier.

The smooth, off-white priming has the appearance of a commercial preparation and is present on all canvas margins. Its adhesion to the support is sound, though sharp cracking in the thick paint on the white sash suggests there may have been some tendency to flake before lining.

The painting itself in very good condition, the lining having caused no damage to the crisp impasto in the sash and the removal of earlier varnish having been skillful. Brushwork is lively in all areas. Time has left its mark in two areas: the face, particularly the pink cheek, where repeated reworking by the artist has caused the paint to become wrinkled and slightly shrunken; and secondly the leading edge of the red garment, extended over onto the dress during painting and now cracked as a result. Neither feature is especially noticeable in normal viewing conditions. After reducing the width of the stretcher the artist appears to have repainted the lower left quadrant of the painting, making the figure more column-like. He then applied a light-toned scumble over the whole background, stopping just short of the turnover edge.

The varnish is a recent one, probably contemporary with the lining. It looks like a synthetic resin and is clear, evenly applied and has a medium gloss.

The frame is probably the original, though it has been regilded at some point. It is a carved moulding with 'compo' decorations and it is in the French neo-classical style.

Rica Jones
February 2001