Technique and condition

The painting was executed on two similar sized pieces of medium-weight, plain-weave cotton duck canvas, each of which was stretched over a separate expandable stretcher and attached with wire staples at their rears. The stretched face of each canvas was then prepared with a single layer of white acrylic emulsion gesso primer.

The painting was executed in oil colours, principally white, black and browns and mostly used in a slightly diluted form. They were applied to the stretched face of canvas and extend just around the turnover edge, stopping just short of the edge of the white acrylic primer. On the inner edges of each canvas (i.e. where they are joined during display), the paint used for the horse extends further around the tacking edge, well beyond the primer. The browns used for the front end of the horse (i.e. the left canvas) are more of a warmer, red-brown hue, whereas those used for the rear end (i.e. right canvas) appear cooler and more purple in hue. The painting of all areas of the horse was executed with reasonably small brushes and in a very precise manner. The oil paint would have been diluted with a little solvent thinner to give a fluid paint and the overall thickness is uniformly thin (i.e. the canvas texture is clearly apparent through it), although the surface gloss is extremely varied. Much of the application involved a wet-in wet technique, i.e. the paint layers were blended together on the canvas, although in many areas a wet on dry technique was also employed. The artist made wide use of transparent glazes, achieved through the addition of further medium (probably oil), resulting in a much higher gloss in those areas. The painting of the rear end of the horse involved a much wider use of glazing and overall it is subsequently more glossy. The white background is slightly off white and has a very uniform gloss. This paint would not have been thinned as much and was presumably applied with a much larger brush.

The painting is in excellent condition. However, it is very vulnerable to marking on the white background and especially on the bare canvas edges, so precautions must be taken to ensure it is not touched or handled incorrectly. This includes its display behind a barrier. The edges already exhibit a certain number of finger marks, although many are probably the artist's own. For example, the set of brown finger marks visible on the left edge (of the left canvas) is a very similar colour to the brown used for painting the front half of the horse.

Tom Learner
August 2000