Stephen Bone

Little Venice


Not on display

Stephen Bone 1904–1958
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 762 × 1022 mm
Purchased 1997


This is one of a large series of London views that Bone executed from the 1930s to the 1950s. Little Venice is located in West London, and so called because of its proximity to Regent's Canal. Bone liked to paint water and its reflections, and often combined this with compositions showing people going about their daily business, a combination which is the subject of this picture. A barge, hung with its owner's washing, travels along the canal. Two children play along the banks, and a man sits on the railings overhead, enjoying the view.

Further reading:
Stephen Bone, Albion: An Artist's Britain, London 1939
Stephen Bone, exhibition card, Sally Hunter & Patrick Seale Fine Art, London 1986

Terry Riggs
November 1997

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Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium-weight linen canvas
attached to an expandable stretcher with ferrous tacks around the tacking margins, which are probably not original as there is an earlier set of tacking holes at all four edges. The canvas used was commercially primed probably with an initial animal glue size layer followed by a pigmented layer consisting mainly of lead white in oil.

The oil paint was applied exclusively by brush in a rather loose manner using mainly single layers of paint, apart from the edges of the forms where there is often a slight overlap. The paint is predominantly opaque and covers most of the stretched face of the canvas, although it also extends slightly around the turnover edges on the left and right sides. In some areas there is no paint application and the white ground is the layer that is seen, for example in the area underneath the man's right arm who sits on the bridge in the foreground or the base of the bridge railings at the bottom right corner. Most paint layers are fairly thin and the canvas weave texture is therefore apparent through them. However, in some areas a reasonable impasto is used, for example in some of the details of the boat and the two figures on the right by the canal side.

The work is not varnished and the paint surface is typically matt. On acquisition it was noted that at some point the painting had been removed from its stretcher, the stretcher expanded on the left and right sides and the painting then restretched back onto it, so that all areas of paint became visible from the front. Unfortunately this resulted in an excessively and unevenly expanded stretcher which had little rigidity and was no longer rectangular in shape. The stretcher was therefore returned to its original dimensions by closing up the corners and now provides reasonable support to the painting. In addition a thick and extremely disfiguring layer of surface dirt was removed from the paint surface and a frame was constructed. The frame is glazed, has a backboard and provides satisfactory protection to the painting.

Tom Learner
January 1998


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