This painting is in oil paint on wooden panel measuring 235 x 432 mm (fig.1). The panel is a single piece of oak, cut tangentially and with uneven thickness (figs.2–3). It is up to 5 mm thick. The grain of the wood runs horizontally.
Dendrochronological examination revealed 71 growth-rings in this piece of oak but it was not possible to assign dates to them. This probably indicates that the oak is British because the established data for dendrochronology comes from trees that grew in the Baltic area.1 ‘L-section’ oak battens, about 30 mm wide and 10 mm deep, are attached with glue to the top, bottom and left edges of the panel. Originally there would have been one on the right edge too. The battens appear to be an original framing device and occur in the other three panels in this series (T00248, T00620 and T00621). Owing to its irregular cutting and the presence of the battens, the panel has developed a complex warp and has been subject to much splitting in the past (fig.4). All the splits have been restored and appear stable now.
The ground is opaque salmon pink, applied thickly to the front of the panel (figs.5–6). Brushstrokes from its application are visible here and there. It is composed of lead white, a range of earth pigments, Cologne earth and verdigris bound together in oil.2
No linear underdrawing is visible with the eye or with infrared (fig.7), but certain features were laid in with reddish brown and green paint, which was allowed to dry before the artist proceeded further (fig.8).
Thereafter the painting appears to have been done in one layer, the colours mixed on the palette and worked into one another wet-in-wet on the prepared surface of the panel with bold, vigorous brushwork and fairly thick, creamy, opaque paint (figs.9–10). Analysis with polarising light microscopy of brown paint from the left background revealed the following pigments: lead white, brown earth colours and Cologne earth. A peak for copper in the EDX analysis (energy-dispersive X-ray analysis) probably signifies the presence of verdigris as a dryer for the oil. Similar analysis of the blue sky revealed lead white, ultramarine and smalt.
The painting has needed no significant treatment since acquisition by Tate in 1959. The varnish is a natural resin.