Executed in artists’ oil paints on a primed canvas, The Ford was worked over several years and mounted onto a board after the painting had been completed. The canvas is plain-weave linen with what appears to be typical commercial white oil priming. Crack patterns indicate that the canvas was originally attached to a stretcher but the original tacking edges have been removed. The paper board onto which the canvas is adhered was supplied to Bayes in 1927, the year before the painting was purchased by the Tate Gallery. A carriage-paid delivery label is pasted over the supplier’s label of P. Davison & Sons, Cardboard and Photographic Mount Manufacturers of 14 Carlisle Street, London W, on the back of the board. Bayes probably supervised or carried out the mounting of the canvas onto the board, which was probably carried out to flatten distortions caused by the canvas bending over the inner edges of the stretcher bars.
The initial drawing is not clearly visible although there are some indications of underdrawing in areas such as the details of the bridge. The image is composed of clearly defined, simplified forms creating pictorial space through the use of the strong perspective of the railway bridge, scale and the movement from the stronger local colour in the foreground to the close tones and misty tints of the distant landscape and sky. The tonality of the painting is restricted, and there are no strong tonal contrasts in the depiction of bright sunlight with clearly defined shadows.
Several regimes of painting are apparent with a varnish or an oiling-out mixture applied to the dried paint surface between them. All layers have the appearance of oil paint applied in fluid, overlying layers of opaque colours which retain the texture of the canvas as well as some brush marking and low impasto. The colours are generally applied in clearly defined shapes with some colour modulation within them, which for example is used to describe volume. The main painting is sometimes modified with a thin, unifying, rubbed glaze as that over the figures and bridge to the left. The later painting often appears slightly darker in colour than the already dried paint, to which it was matched. This is the result of normal changes to the oil paint as it dried and aged and has contributed to lowering the overall tonality of the picture.
In addition to the varnish or oil applied at various stages during painting, there is a final, uneven layer of varnish. It contains runs and puddles and dirt trapped within it and does not extend onto the edging tape of the marouflaged canvas. Its distinctly brown colour contributes to the general unifying and lowering of tone. The signature at the bottom right is covered by at least one of the varnishes.
How to cite
Roy Perry, 'Technique and Condition', November 2003, in Nicola Moorby, ‘The Ford c.1917–20 by Walter Bayes’, catalogue entry, September 2003, 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/walter-bayes-the-ford-r1129462, accessed 22 April 2021.