Essay

Distant View of York 1639 By Alexander Keirincx

Rica Jones and Joyce H. Townsend

Read technical information about this painting resulting from examination and scientific analysis by conservators and conservation scientists at Tate

Fig.1 Alexander Keirincx 16001652 Distant View of York  1639 Oil paint on panel 529 x 687 mm T04168

Fig.1
Alexander Keirincx 16001652
Distant View of York
1639
Oil paint on panel
529 x 687 mm
T04168

This painting is in oil paint on an oak panel measuring 529 x 687 mm (fig.1). Careful study of the X-radiograph (fig.2) reveals that the panel is made up of three horizontal oak boards glued together at butt joins; the quality of the craftsmanship is so high that the joins are barely discernible in normal viewing conditions. The panel is about 10 mm thick, going down to about 7 mm at the bevelled edges. At the top verso is the brand-mark that was made on all the paintings in the collection of Charles I – ‘CR’ beneath a crown (fig.3).

The ground is off-white in colour and is made of marine chalk in a glue medium; it was applied over the front of the panel and also on the thin edges, which made dendrochronological examination impossible.1

 Fig.2 X-radiograph of Distant View of York 1639

Fig.2
X-radiograph of Distant View of York 1639

Fig.3 The back of Distant View of York 1639, photographed in black-and-white

Fig.3
The back of Distant View of York 1639, photographed in black-and-white

The ground is off-white in colour and is made of marine chalk in a glue medium; it was applied over the front of the panel and also on the thin edges, which made dendrochronological examination impossible. The ground is covered with pale grey, oil bound priming (figs.4–5).2

Fig.4 Cross-section from the sky at the top edge, photographed at x320 magnification.

Fig.4
Cross-section from the sky at the top edge, photographed at x320 magnification. From the bottom: off-white ground; pale grey priming; pale greyish blue paint of sky, containing lead white and smalt; blue paint of sky, containing lead white and ultramarine; blue overpaint (modern)

Fig.5 Cross-section from the sky at the top edge, photographed at x320 magnification in ultraviolet light.

Fig.5
Cross-section from the sky at the top edge, photographed at x320 magnification in ultraviolet light. From the bottom: off-white ground; pale grey priming; pale greyish blue underpaint, containing lead white and smalt; blue paint of sky, containing lead white and ultramarine; blue overpaint (modern)

The composition was drawn onto the priming with thin, black lines, which are visible in close examination and with infrared reflectography (figs.6–13). The drawing describes the architectural elements and the bare bones of the landscape but not the figures.

Fig.6 Infrared reflectogram of Distant View of York 1639

Fig.6
Infrared reflectogram of Distant View of York 1639

Fig.7 Infrared reflectogram detail of the town

Fig.7
Infrared reflectogram detail of the town

 Fig.8 Detail of the castle in normal light

Fig.8
Detail of the castle in normal light

Fig.9 Detail of distant cottages in normal light

Fig.9
Detail of distant cottages in normal light

Fig.10 Detail of the pathway, trees and firgures in normal light

Fig.10
Detail of the pathway, trees and firgures in normal light

Fig.11 Detail of the shepherd and his flock in normal light

Fig.11
Detail of the shepherd and his flock in normal light

Fig.12 Detail of two figures and their dog in normal light

Fig.12
Detail of two figures and their dog in normal light

Fig.13 Detail of buildings in the town in normal light

Fig.13
Detail of buildings in the town in normal light

The paint was applied thinly in broad areas at first, after which smaller elements such as figures, trees and patches of blue sky were applied on top (figs.4–5, 8–14).

Fig.14 Cross-section through the foreground landscape, photographed at x320 magnification. From the bottom: off-white ground; pale grey priming; thin green paint of landscape

Fig.14
Cross-section through the foreground landscape, photographed at x320 magnification. From the bottom: off-white ground; pale grey priming; thin green paint of landscape

August 2016

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