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Subject: Red paint layer

Red paint layer

From: Erika Smeenk-Metz <e.smeenk-metz<-a>
Date: Friday, August 15, 2008
Recently a large militia piece was treated at the Rijksmuseum. The
work was painted by Cornelis Ketel to decorate the 'Voetboogdoelen'
in Amsterdam in 1588. On the reverse of the trimmed canvas, now
measuring 207.5 x 410 cm., a red paint layer was applied containing
red lead as the main colouring component. The red paint-layer
continues all the way to the edges of the canvas. The paint is
pushed through the canvas fibres to the front of the painting; it is
visible adjacent to the grey ground in many of the cross-sections
that were taken from the front. This makes us wonder whether the red
layer was applied before the front side was painted or at least at a
very early stage when the paint system on the front was still fresh
and flexible?

We are not aware of any other examples of (original?) red lead
containing protecting paint-layers on the back of 16th- or
17th-century paintings. In addition, no contemporary treatises are
known to us that recommend the application of such 'ground' layers
onto the reverse. Any comparable examples/suggestions are most

Barbara Schoonhoven
Paintings Conservator, KMSK Antwerpen and
Erika Smeenk-Metz
Paintings ConservatorRijksmuseum, Amsterdam
+31 20 6747292

                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:12
                 Distributed: Saturday, August 23, 2008
                       Message Id: cdl-22-12-012
Received on Friday, 15 August, 2008

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