Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of light-weight linen canvas, attached to stretcher with steel tacks. The stretcher is most probably original. The canvas was commercially prepared with a white oil-based primer, probably over a thin layer of animal glue size.

The paint was applied over this priming, in a very controlled and precise manner. First the background space was established with a diluted oil paint, which would have been applied reasonably quickly to ensure the very smooth gradation of colour, from the light blue along the top edge, through white, grey and finally to black at the bottom edge. For any given point on the canvas, the particular colour in the background runs along the whole width of the canvas, i.e. underneath all the objects. These were painted over the background layer after it had completely dried with a thicker oil paint, probably straight form the tube. Despite some very slight areas of impasto corresponding to the brush strokes, these objects are essentially painted in a single additional thin layer.

Although very difficult to see, even under high magnification, the painting is probably varnished with a very thin synthetic varnish. A label on the back of the stretcher reads plastic varnish. If present, this coating is unlikely to be original, but since it has not yellowed or cracked at all, there is no need to remove it. The frame is thought to be original to the work and has been recently modified to allow for glazing and the fitting of a backboard, both of which will ensure the optimum level of protection to the painting. The painting is in excellent condition, with a very stable support and no signs of any cracking or discoloration in the paint layers.

Tom Learner
October 1997ûûûû