French Interior is painted on commercially primed canvas in artists’ oil paint. A historic paper label on the back bears an ink inscription in Gilman’s hand. The label is damaged but parts of it are still legible and read: ‘No 2 Interior, H Gilman, [...]gate Road, England’.
The prepared canvas conforms to the basic type found on all of Gilman’s paintings in the Tate collection (see also Tate T00096
). It is fine plain weave linen and retains its selvedge. The canvas is sized and has a single white priming. The priming extends to the cut edges of the canvas and retains the fine weave texture. It has penetrated through to the back of the canvas in places, indicating that the sizing may be very thin and discontinuous. There are double pin holes with the remnants of steel prongs at each corner applied through the painted canvas. These may have been made by pins used to locate the canvas for re-stretching. The work was put onto its existing stretcher some time after painting, possibly when the picture was varnished, and the studio stamp subsequently applied.
There are evenly spaced pin holes along all four edges of the painted surface that may relate to a threaded grid for the transfer of a drawn image, although there is no visible evidence of any graphic underdrawing. The initial composition was established with freely drawn and washed areas of colours in thinned paint. After the painting had been laid in with a limited range of pinks, greys and browns, it was allowed to become touch-dry before applying the main colouring. This tonal underpainting remains visible in many areas around the borders of forms. The final colouring and details were applied with fluent strokes of medium-rich paint that flowed easily across the fine texture retaining some softened brushmarking. There is little sign of hesitation or revision apart from some areas of particular focus, such as the figure. Fresh, wet-in-wet touches evoke the play of light on different surfaces, such as the translucent net curtains and satin-like shimmer of the bed clothes. The drawing is occasionally reinstated during the final painting as in the fall of the bed drapes.
How to cite
Roy Perry and Sarah Morgan, 'Technique and Condition', August 2004, in Robert Upstone, ‘French Interior c.1907 by Harold Gilman’, catalogue entry, May 2009, 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/harold-gilman-french-interior-r1139856, accessed 29 July 2021.