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Henry Alken, Snr

(1785 - 1850)
Title: Returning home Technique: oil on canvas
Signature: present, bottom left corner
Dimensions: 30 x 43 cm
Frame: Wooden, gesso moulded, gilded gold
Treatment: October – December 2006

SECONDARY SUPPORT: This is a wooden canvas strainer (Width: 48mm Thickness: 12 mm). The general condition is good. The strainer may be a later addition, as possibly the paper may have been the artists original primary support.

The following inscriptions can be seen;
………….let & Sons, Ltd.,
…………….ers, Frame Maker
.. 23874
17 & 18, Nassau Street,
Mortimer Street, W.
Phone;- Museum 1817 & 7588

The label is seen on the left hand side, made from fine pulp paper with black ink print. The top side of it is torn. A second label next to this label reads “2437”. It is on a similar paper and ink, but appears darker in colour. A third label reads “4” on the right-hand side. A fourth label reads: By Special Appointment Est.d 1820…. The remainder of the label can not be read as it is cut off. A fifth label reads “97” and is on acidic paper using black ink.

PRIMARY SUPPORT: The primary support is a fairly thin paper, dark ochre/burn sienna in colour, that has been adhered onto a medium-weight tabby weave canvas. Both appear to be in a sound condition, however small losses are seen on the sides. Evenly-placed tacks attach the canvas to the strainer. They appear to be slightly rusted. The tacking margin is 30m in width. Some dirt is caught between the canvas and wooden strainer.

GROUND: There does not appear to be a ground. However the paper appears to have been sized with animal glue, as it is slightly glossy.

PAINT LAYER: The artist has applied has applied the paint thinly. Extensive over-paint can be seen, but this appears thicker in the sky and appears over almost the whole area. A fine age-crack pattern can be seen in a number of localized areas.

VARNISH LAYER: The natural resin varnish layer is discoloured and a layer of surface dirt covers this. This is not the original varnish. Under UV light it appears to be thickly applied, masking the image, and the retouchings do not appear separately.

TREATMENT CARRIED OUT A photographic record was taken and this was maintained throughout the treatment.

Tests were carried out to remove the surface dirt. After the appropriate reagent was found, cleaning proceeded safely and effectively. Cleaning proceeded using a swab stick.

Following tests, including a safety margin-cleaning test, an organic solvent was found to remove the discoloured varnish layer safely and effectively. Cleaning proceeded using a swab stick.

Over-paint was present covering all the drying cracks and following tests, a mixture of organic solvents was used to remove this.

Dirt was removed from between the canvas and the stretcher bar and the back of the canvas was cleaned.

An isolating conservation varnish was applied with a brush. The losses in the areas of the drying cracks were retouched and a final conservation varnish was applied.

Both the front and back of the painting were cleaned, small losses filled and retouched and the painting was secure in the frame using brass plates.

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Click the image for a view of: Whole front, before treatment
Whole front, before treatment
Click the image for a view of: Whole back, before treatment
Whole back, before treatment
Click the image for a view of: Detail of signature
Detail of signature
Click the image for a view of: Whole front, during surface dirt and varnish removal
Whole front, during surface dirt and varnish removal
Click the image for a view of: Whole front, after treatment
Whole front, after treatment
Posted: 2006/12/22 (12:24:00 PM)

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