- Albert Irvin OBE RA 1922–2015
- Acrylic paint on canvas
- Support: 2140 × 3056 × 52 mm
- Purchased 1996
Technique and condition
The painting was executed on a single piece of medium-weight, plain-weave cotton duck canvas that was stretched over an expandable nine-membered softwood stretcher and attached with wire staples at the rear. The artist then applied a thinned coat of a red acrylic emulsion paint (diluted with water) directly to the canvas as a priming layer. This extends over the stretched face and all four edges and the canvas weave texture remains very apparent through it.
The paint is all acrylic emulsion and was applied in a variety of consistencies and techniques. Dribbles extend around all four edges, which indicate that much of the paint application was executed with the canvas lying horizontal. Although much of the paint is vigorously brush-marked, the artist is also known to have used squeegees and sponges to apply paint to other works from the same period and it seems likely that other such implements were also used here. The paint exhibits a number of 'drying defects' as a result of this vigorous paint application, especially in the thicker areas of paint. Perhaps the most noticeable of these are the bubbles and craters that are seen in many areas. Although these are now stable and will not enlarge any further, they are viewed as disfiguring by the artist. The paint surface is typically dry and matt, although in areas where much layering has occurred, there is a slight increase in gloss. In many areas the red colour that is visible is simply the thinned layer applied as a primer, although there are several instances of considerable build-up in the paint thickness. The painting is not varnished or framed.
The painting is currently in excellent condition, although its surface is particularly vulnerable to being marked by finger prints or scuffs etc. In addition to correct handling and storage, it is therefore essential that it be displayed behind a barrier to keep it in this near pristine condition.
Tom Learner and Peter Booth