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Question asked 2017-03-15 06:53:44 ...
Most recent comment 2017-03-15 16:55:00
Grounds / Priming
I've come across conflicting information on this.
Some old manuals advise us to seal the canvases also from the back to protect them from humidity. Japan size and tin foil were highly recommended to do so.
On the other hand, I've read that canvases sealed from behind perform worse than canvases where the linen fibers were left to breathe.
What is your opinion on this topic?
Answers and Comments
This practice is almost uniformly condemned today. It is
less of an issue of the fibers needing to breath. The more important reasons
are twofold. The application of materials to the reverse of the canvas can
create brittleness in the case of Japan size. This may also rot the canvas
Additionally, whenever you adhere something to a portion, as
opposed to the complete, verso of the canvas you will eventually see that
impression of that material telegraph through to the surface resulting in a topographical
bulge in the shape of the applique that can be seen on the front of the
painting. You have probably seen patch shaped bulges visible on the surface of poorly
restored paintings. I have also seen this happen with gallery labels that were
stuck on the backs of exhibited paintings. This is all just the result of the
inevitable natural alignment of physical forces that occur when a smaller
objects is attached to a larger and flexible object. The same does not happen
with lined paintings but that has its own issues.
The tinfoil idea would not be terrible as long as no
adhesive was used. Today, we generally just attach a rigid, vented backing
board (eg Fomecore or acid free blueboard) to the reverse of the stretcher.
This does almost everything positive that the earlier procedures did without
any of the negatives. BTW the small vents left in the backingboard prevent the
creation of a micro-environment which may occur in very humid environments.
If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare your own backing board, instructions can be found in our Resources section in the "Storage, Exhibition, and Handling Tips" document.
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