Porthleven is painted in artists’ oil paints on primed stretched canvas. The cloth appears to be linen; it has a plain coarse weave and retains the selvedge. The mark of the artists’ colourman P. Shea of 56 Fitzroy Street, Tottenham Court Road, is stamped in the centre of the back of the canvas. Shea also supplied canvases to Walter Sickert, Spencer Gore and J.B. Manson, although none of the artists appear to have consistently used the same supplier. The cloth has probably been sized and has been primed with a fluid white primer, probably bound in oil. The priming is continuous to the cut edges and stops just short of the selvedge. It has been evenly applied and retains the fine weave texture of the canvas. The primed canvas is attached to a wooden stretcher with zinc-coated tacks in their original positions. The dimensions of the support conform to a standard size suggesting that it was purchased pre-stretched from the colourman.
No initial drawing or means of transfer of the design from a drawing remain visible beneath the opaque paint film. A thin underpainting remains visible around the edges of some of the shadows. The ‘drawn’ elements in oil paint relate to this layer and are consistent with the remainder of the painting. There are very few alterations apparent during the process of painting. The top section of the image corresponds closely to a pen and ink drawing with watercolour dated 1923,1
with only variations in detail, suggesting that they were derived from the same initial drawing. The painting is executed in oil paint with the possible addition of some painting media which produced well-bodied colour that dried slowly retaining softened brush marks and impasto in the thicker more layered areas (see also Tate T03096
). The even finish across the whole surface is in part due to the subsequent application of a varnish that gives an even gloss and saturation, and in part to the consistent handling of the dense, opaque mixtures. Each stroke remains visible even where they are merged in handling and have less texture, as in the depiction of the roofs in shadow with their close tones and lack of structural detail. Predominantly, the brush strokes are laid side by side or cleanly wet onto wet in one sitting. There are a few areas where fresh paint is applied over already touch-dry colour as on the yellow brickwork of the foreground house. Cracks, which probably began as fine contraction cracks in the surface of the slow-drying, thick paint have developed into brittle cracks in the hardened paint films. These are most visible in the lighter tints of the sunlit walls and are a familiar feature of Ginner’s work (see also Tate T03096
How to cite
Roy Perry, 'Technique and Condition', June 2004, in David Fraser Jenkins, ‘Porthleven 1922 by Charles Ginner’, catalogue entry, May 2005, in Helena Bonett, Ysanne Holt, Jennifer Mundy (eds.), The Camden Town Group in Context, Tate Research Publication, May 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/camden-town-group/charles-ginner-porthleven-r1139307, accessed 23 January 2022.