Technique and condition

The painting is executed on a hardwood panel, possibly mahogany, about 14mm thick. The panel is in excellent condition. There is an opaque coating on the reverse of the wood and there are several labels attached directly to the panel (see conservation record). The panel has a c.1mm thick, smooth white ground, which covers the whole of the front surface of the panel (materials untested).

The paint appears to be oil. It is distributed to the very edges of the painting, although a thin line of white ground is visible at the top and bottom edges where the brushstrokes peter out. The paint is thinly applied, with fine brushstrokes, but the paint is fairly dense and opaque. There is a layer of reddish underpaint which is used to create texture and luminosity, by allowing it to show through the upper opaque layers, between brushstrokes. The palette is fairly restricted, consisting mainly of black, white and browns with accents of red, blue and green. The fine brushstrokes have a low, but crisp impasto, which remains intact. The paint is quite rich and glossy.

There is what appears to be an original natural resin varnish applied over the whole surface of the painting. It fluoresces green in UV light and is brushed uniformly across the image. There do not appear to be any painted additions or retouchings over the varnish. The varnish is slightly yellowed but in good condition. There is some surface dust embedded in the varnish.

The panel has painted wooden battens nailed into its edges which project a couple of millimetres beyond the front surface of the panel. These battens are laid directly into the rebate of the frame and act as protection to the painting. They seem to be part of the original structure of the painting and are therefore to be left in place and incorporated into the new framing.

Annette King
April 2001