Stephen Bone

Stockholm in Winter


Not on display

Stephen Bone 1904–1958
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1020 × 1270 mm
Purchased 1997

Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of coarse linen canvas that is attached to an expandable softwood stretcher with ferrous tacks around the tacking edges. The tacks are probably not original, as there is an earlier set of tacking holes along all four edges. The canvas used was commercially primed probably with an initial layer of animal glue size followed by a white pigmented layer composed primarily of lead white in oil. This priming is fairly thin and the canvas weave texture would have still been very apparent through it.

The oil paint used appears to have been mainly paste-like in consistency although in many areas the paint appears rather lean presumably due to the addition of diluent. The paint was applied mainly by brush in a rather loose manner using a combination of wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry techniques where more than one layer is present. In addition the handle of a brush has been used in a few areas to scrape back through the paint, for example in the cars and parts of the main boat. Much of the painting seems to consists of two layers of paint, with the under layer being a warm base colour ranging from cream to pink, and the details such as the figures, cars and lamp-posts were all painted over the surrounding background colour. The paint used for these details exhibits a reasonable impasto, in contrast to areas where the paint has been thinned. Here the canvas weave texture is still very apparent. The painting is not varnished and the paint is typically matt, although there is some variation in surface gloss. On acquisition, areas of a rather thick brown paint were seen around many of the painting's edges. By analysis it was possible to identify it as acrylic emulsion paint and to confirm that it was identical to the paint found on the frame. Since these paints were not available until after the artist's death it was concluded that not only had the frame been painted with the painting still inside it, but also this could not have been carried out by the artist. The original finish to the frame is a warm grey colour which is still visible in areas where the brown paint has not been applied, in particular along its top edge.

The painting is in overall good condition. Although the fabric is somewhat degraded, it still exhibits reasonable flexibility and strength. The painting was recently cleaned to remove a layer of household dirt from its surface and the areas of brown acrylic paint from around its edges, both of which have resulted in a considerable improvement to its appearance. The frame has also been fitted with glazing and a backboard to provide additional protection to the painting.

Tom Learner
January 1998

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