Technique and condition

Venice – Evening: Going to the Ball is painted in oil with resinous glazes on a commercially primed linen canvas. The creamy-white ground gives the finely woven linen canvas a smooth surface finish. Browns of Holborn supplied Turner with this primed canvas ready-tacked to a four member expandable stretcher fitted with a loose lining.

Turner applied a base layer of creamy-white oil paint. He worked up the sky with impasto in the clouds applied with a brush and palette knife. This he followed by thin resinous glazes of a well-bodied medium-rich paint to add tones and hues over the pale base in both sky and sea. Thick smudges of pale paint evoke highlights on buildings. Later details were added with a fine brush after the paint had dried for a while. This paint beaded on application and formed dotted linear marks, principally as accents on the buildings and on the group of figures in the lower left.

Colours have faded, in particular the pale red, and vestiges of this appear in the diagonal glow across the sky. It is likely that the resinous content of the medium-rich paint has darkened. The painting remains sensitive to light and is normally displayed at low light levels to slow down the rate of colour change.

The loose lining was removed in 1959 and placed in the Conservation Archive at Tate. At this time the painting was lined with wax/resin onto Terylene fabric. At the same time, a natural resin varnish was removed and a light layer of a synthetic/natural resin mixture was sprayed over the remaining varnish to recover a glossy surface appearance.

May 2000