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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Linen used in the 19th centuryApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2018-04-21 13:35:10 ... Most recent comment 2018-05-10 09:48:28
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    ​I like many am interested in the materials used by my favorite past masters. As conservators, are there any current manufacturers that would supply a linen texture that is close to what an artist like John Singer Sargent might use? Does that knowledge enter the realm of conservation needs? If anyone is also familiar with trends in support texture for artists who painted thickly like sargent, sorolla, zorn, etc. that would be excellent as well. 

Answers and Comments
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    This page may give you some insight into what Sargent used for some of his paintings: https://www.npg.org.uk/research/programmes/artists-their-materials-and-suppliers/john-singer-sargents-suppliers-of-artists-materials

    I found another reference to linen used for a Sargent portrait, which was described as 23 threads per inch both warp and weft​, and it looked like a plain-weave fabric very much like modern linen: http://www.baumanconservation.com/WHZSargentExamination.html

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2018-04-21 19:54:28
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​There is an amazing publication that recently came out on Sargent which I highly recommend (John Singer Sargent's 'Triumph of Religion' at the Boston Public Library: Creation and Restoration). There are chapters that provide specific information relating to his materials and techniques, including his canvases....according to page 53 he chose plain-weave linen canvases of medium-coarse weight although others in the series are slightly finer. There is a table that has an exhaustive list of thread counts....so this book is probably right up your alley.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-21 20:38:53
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    The truth of the matter is that essentially all of the linen weaves available to 19th century painters can be purchased today. What are you looking for? I recently assembled a group of historically representative fabric weaves, and with some work, I was able to fill all of the categories.   

    Brian Baade
    2018-04-21 23:30:36
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    I require clarification about your question, “Does that knowledge enter the realm of conservation needs?” Do you mean, does it enter into concerns about the conservation of Sargent works, or the general role of canvas and the aesthetics of appearance, etc., or something else? I am sure that you are aware; this can be a huge subject.

    Brian Baade
    2018-04-21 23:43:50
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​kristen that looks great, you are always a wealth of knowledge. Brian just as a curiostiy in replacing damaged areas of painting, not necessarily aesthetic. If you have a general recommendation for an average texture Sargent might have used, I've also noticed De laszlo had some very textured linen. Thanks guys.

    2018-04-22 12:26:43
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​It is too difficult to give an average as there are MANY thread counts listed on the table on page 157 of the Sargent book but it ranges anywhere from 15 x 9 threads per square cm to 36 x 34.

    Kristin deGhetaldi
    2018-04-22 13:35:20
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment

    ​I would look for brands like Libeco out of Belgium they have been producing linen since 1864. So they would propbly be your best bet. 

    2018-05-10 09:48:28
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