is painted in artists’ oil paints on commercially prepared stretched canvas. The oval stamp of artists’ colourman and picture-frame maker Chas H. West of 117 Finchley Road, London NW3 marks the back of the canvas. The cloth has a plain, close weave and is probably composed of a mixture of linen and cotton. The canvas is attached to the stretcher with ferrous tacks in their original positions. The stretcher has four members each stamped ‘Made in England’. The cloth has been prepared with sizing and white priming. Two layers of primer have been applied, forming a coating that reduces the canvas weave texture. Both layers are composed of a mixture of materials, with titanium white in the upper layer only.1
The presence of titanium white in priming is unusual in a European painting of this date, although the date given for its use by artists is c.1920 it is rare to find it in paintings made outside of the United States before 1940.2
No initial drawing remains visible but drawn outlines, where used, occur at all levels of the painting and have been used to emphasise form and describe detail, such as the railings. The initial painting is in stiff opaque colours applied in short strokes that retain sharp textures characteristic of stiff bristle brushes and leaving many small gaps where the priming shows through. In many areas the initial paint is modified with further applications to refine detail and colour. For example, in depicting the lawns, fluid, semi-transparent greens rich in medium were laid over the touch-dry paint. This ‘glazing’ colour accumulated as small puddles in the hollows of the texture of the underlying paint but barely covers the tops of the under-painting that would not hold it. This gives parts of the surface a ‘rubbed’ appearance.
A mood of early evening is conveyed by the heightened colour values such as the glowing lamp light and contrasts between the subtle violets of the windows against the warm yellow building at the back of the square. Although some ‘local’ colours are emphasised, as in the blue of the slate roofs, in other areas such as the road and people the colour is subdued by the final local application of varnish, glazing or oiling out applied to re-saturate the surface after signing in the bottom right. This uneven layer misses some small areas in the road that appear very light, matt and cool in contrast. Its slightly opaque, warm colour markedly changes the values of the painting especially in the lower areas where it is thicker. It may be deliberately coloured or have picked up colour from the uppermost paint layers.
How to cite
Roy Perry, 'Technique and Condition', June 2004, in Robert Upstone, ‘Berkeley Square c.1935 by Stanislawa de Karlowska’, 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/stanislawa-de-karlowska-berkeley-square-r1139841, accessed 29 July 2021.