Anatomy of a Painting
1. Varnish and Retouching
- The modern synthetic resin varnish has discolored with age and the accumulation of dirt and grime. The varnish does not fully saturate the paint layers.
- At least two generations of retouching conceal areas of loss and damage.
- The oil medium used in the older retouching and the synthetic medium of the more recent retouching no longer match the original paint.
2. Paint Layer
- The paint is composed of dry pigments ground in a linseed, poppyseed, or walnut oil medium to a pastelike consistency.
3. Primer or Ground Layer
- The ground isolates the paint from the canvas so that the oil medium does not rot the fabric.
- The ground provides a nonabsorptive surface on which to apply paint.
- The ground layer on this painting is the rich red earth color traditional in that period of Italian painting.
4. Primary Support
- A traditional Italian open-weave linen-fiber canvas is the primary support.
5. Lining Fabric
- The painting did not originally have a lining.
- The lining was added later to support the deteriorated canvas.
- A glue-paste adhesive was used to attach the lining to the reverse of the original canvas.
6. Auxiliary Support
- The auxiliary support is an expandable wooden framework over which the lined original canvas is stretched and secured by tacks at the outer edges.
- The present stretcher is an earlier replacement of the painting's original auxiliary support.