Technique and condition
The painting was executed on a single piece of very coarse flax canvas that was stretched around a softwood expandable stretcher and attached at the rear with metal staples. The artist then probably applied an initial unpigmented animal glue 'size' layer, before a very thin coat of white oil-based primer was applied to the stretched face of the canvas. This primer would have had a very lean consistency and the canvas weave texture is still very pronounced through it.
The paint is all oil, although the great variation in surface gloss suggests that some areas may contain some additional oil (or oil-based) medium. This would also have increased the transparency and fluidity of those paints. The paint was applied predominantly with fairly wide brushes, although a smaller brush would have been used for some of the patterns on the garments. Occasionally the paint was scraped back with a stiff small brush or flat implement (for example, in the white garment and the under-painting of the green garment). Generally, the paint was applied in a very vigorous manner with loose brushstrokes and much of the paint was applied using a wet in wet technique. Both opaque and transparent colours were used and in a range of consistencies, from thick paint used straight from the tube that sometimes formed considerable impasto, to heavily diluted glazes that are no more than a stain. The painting exhibits a wide variety of surface texture, often just that of the coarse canvas, but there are also numerous thick areas of paint where this texture is completely covered. Much of the painting appears to consist of several layers (it took four years to complete), and in areas where a reasonably dilute paint was used, drips have often run down the painting's surface.
The painting is currently in a very good condition, despite the slightly flimsy nature of the stretcher. The tension in the canvas was recently improved to prevent contact between the back of the canvas and the central, horizontal stretcher bar. This should greatly reduce the risk of crack formation in the paint film in the future.