Technique and condition

The painting is technique is in general typical of Sargent’s portrait painting. The canvas weight is of the heavier type used by him but the ground colour is typical. The figure has been characteristically developed with broad planes of colour, which are then refined to determine the contours and outline of the shapes. The fine horizontal cracking found in many of his portraits may indicate the rolling of the canvas at the priming stage. The excess canvas visible at the back facilitates his not infrequent habit of altering the visual dimension of the subject but in this case the canvas only appears to have been stretched once. No drawing directly on the canvas is apparent and would not be expected. Preparatory drawings on paper may exist but these would not have slavishly determined the pose but simply have captured its essence. The changes in composition of this work are again typical of Sargent, for example repositioning of the feet, redefining of the coat contour making the figure seem even more thin and vertical.

Jacqueline Ridge
August 1998