Technique and condition

The primary support for Landscape from Church Row is linen canvas stretched over a pine stretcher. The canvas is a fine, 1 x 1, plain weave fabric. The expandable stretcher has four-members with mitred, mortise and tenon joints. The canvas was prepared with a layer of size, probably animal glue, and given two layer of priming. The first layer was a commercially applied, off-white oil ground. It was thinly and evenly applied to the edges of the cut canvas. The second layer was applied by the artist to the front face only and just covers the front edges. This oil layer is thicker, with a creamy colour. It appears to be a thin, even layer that reduces the impact of the canvas weave and provides a smoother texture for the paint.

The muted shades of oil paint were applied to the front face of the canvas only. Several thin washes of colour were scumbled and layered on the surface with sketchy brushwork. The paint is well-blended on the canvas using short brush strokes. Some canvas weave is apparent, although the surface is generally flat and smooth. The surface has a soft, slightly patchy sheen.

The painting arrived at Tate in a well-used state. There were quilting and cupping deformations associated with the numerous cracks throughout the paint and ground layers. The surface was lightly coated with grime and drip marks. Debris had accumulated behind the stretcher bars. There were a few abrasions and numerous paint/priming losses along the front fold-over edges of the painting. It had been consolidated in the past. The tacking edges of the painting were degraded and not capable of supporting the painting.

The painting was surface cleaned front and back and removed from its stretcher. The work underwent some flattening treatments to remove the worst dents and reduce the over deformations. The original stretcher was retained and the painting was given a loose lining of polyester sailcloth. This will help stabilise the stretcher and provide an overall support for the painting. The holes and losses to the degraded tacking edges of the painting were bonded to gossamer tissue with an adhesive. The entire tacking edge was then reinforced with a strip lining of polyester sailcloth attached with heat-sealed adhesive. The painting was re-stretched over the loose lining and secured with staples on the reverse. The losses were filled and retouched with watercolours.

Patricia Smithen
August 2003