Prunella Clough

False Flower


Not on display

Prunella Clough 1919–1999
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1625 × 1832 mm
frame: 1651 × 1858mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1996

Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of medium-weight linen canvas, which is attached to its original stretcher with wire staples at the back. The canvas was commercially prepared prior to stretching with an oil-based white ground layer, and although not visible, was probably initially covered with a layer of animal glue size. This ground layer is reasonably thin and the canvas weave texture is still very evident through it.

The paints used for this work were artists' oil paints and were applied exclusively by brush to produce a generally opaque and matt surface quality. Many areas were applied in rather thin layers and may have been thinned with a diluent such as turpentine. However, there is some variation in the paint thickness and some areas of reasonable impasto in the black background and in the flower. Here the paint appears to have been applied directly from the tube in short brushstrokes. In addition to the oil paint, some form of graphite was probably used to produce the very thin lines. There are two areas in the painting where a circular shape (of approximately 370mm diameter) can be made out. They are particularly apparent when the painting is viewed in raking light, as both circles have a much rougher surface texture to the surrounding paint. One circle is centred to the lower part of the right edge of the flower and the other is seen towards the left edge of the painting, approximately half way between top and bottom. These circles do not appear to bear any relation to the final composition. They clearly indicate some kind of re-working and could correspond to a previous image beneath the upper paint layers. There are also a few areas where the artists has used a localised varnish, perhaps to increase the gloss or transparency of a top layer of paint. This is most noticeable where it has formed into drips to the lower right of the flower. However, the painting does not have a general varnish layer. Traces of blue and white paint are evident on the reverse of the canvas.

The painting is in overall very good condition, with no signs of any significant deterioration. The artist is currently being consulted about the possibility of replacing the thin batten frame with one of similar appearance that could hold a backboard and therefore provide the painting with a much higher level of protection to ensure that its current condition is prolonged.

Tom Learner
November 1997

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