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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • 18th century British PigmentsApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-01-20 11:09:48 ... Most recent comment 2017-01-20 11:33:00
    Art Conservation Topics Pigments Scientific Analysis Technical Art History
    I have the good fortune to have acquired an 18th century British family portrait.  The painting has an inscription that dates it to 1754.  I am taking X-sections in hopes to study the layer structure, pigments and possibly help with an artist attribution.  The work is unsigned but similar to other works by Arthur Devis a British portrait painter who was active in London at the right time.  As I rarely work on paintings that are not American 19th century works I welcome any advice or insight.  I do have sampling opportunities in many different colors in the painting (according to areas of loss). 
    Thank you in advance
    Nina Roth-Wells

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Hi Nina

    The painting falls in a time and place that we are less accustomed to as well. Additionally, with the noted exception of Prussian blue, the proposed date is before the creation/adoption of a huge number of new pigments which would help with attribution, unless you find anachronistic pigments, which is a separate issue.

    So in the absence of much experience,I would probably do an AATA search and scour through the available published studies on British paintings of that era. I always start with The National Gallery Technical Bulletin and this may provide something of interest: NGTB 12 Gainsborough's 'Dr Ralph Schomberg' by David Bomford, Ashok Roy and David Saunders. The following book may be of interest: Studying 19th-Century Paintings and Works of Art on Paper edited by Evans and Muir. It may be a good idea to skim through American Painters on Technique: The Colonial Period to 1860 by Mayer and Myers as many of the American practices originated in Britian. The following article may also be of interest: Bennett, Shelley M.New light on British paintings at the Huntington. The Burlington magazine 137, no. 1109 (1995), pp. 512-515 Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd., London, United Kingdom. It would not hurt to read through Paint and Purpose, A Study of Technique in British Art by Hackney et al. Gainsborough, J. Wright & and Reynolds are included.

    I would probably also send a query to the conservators at The National Portrait Gallery in London. I know that they are gathering technical information about earlier Tudor and other portraits but they may also have relevant info about the period you are interested in. A quick look at their website reveals that they are conserving and documenting works by Romney. You could send a query to conservators at The Yale Center for British Art to see if they have any insight.

    I  am sure that there are many other references and resources out there but it really is not our area of expertise. I did sent an email to a few other conservators that may or may not have something to add here. Hopefully you will get some additional information.

    Baade, Brian
    2017-01-20 16:17:05

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