Harold Gilman

Nude at a Window


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Not on display

Harold Gilman 1876–1919
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 610 × 508 mm
frame: 842 × 735 × 125 mm
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the Tate Gallery 2010

Technique and condition

The support is a commercially primed, finely woven canvas. An off white ground, probably oil was applied before it was stretched. On top of the ground is a white priming which covers the face of the stretched surface. The artist laid out the initial sketch in dark blue oil colour with bold, brushy strokes. The outline of the figure and the structural outline of the space are discernible in this technique through breaks in the upper layer of paint. Blocks of colour were laid in with rapid, fairly dry brushstrokes giving an impression of solid colour, but broken up with glimpses of ground. Thick impasto paint was applied to build up the figure in short diagonal brushstrokes. Bold contrasting colours are deployed to impart a sense of three-dimensionality to the figure and to create the effects of light. Pale highlights are uppermost. The paint is leanly bound and matt. As it is not protected by varnish or glazing the porous paint has absorbed dirt over time and this has made the overall hue greyer, disturbing the vibrancy of the original colour. The leanness of the paint has also caused some of the impasto peaks to crack and flake, leading to some small losses.

The technique is quite typical of the Camden Town group of painters and is comparable especially to that of Gore and Ginner. Lively textured paint and bright contrasting colours are common aspects of their work.

Annette King
May 2003

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