You might remember a while ago I mentioned a rather large painting that was about to undergo conservation, 'Flower Sellers of London'. A few people commented on it, thought it was an interesting piece. Conservation work has now begun and painting conservator, Rebecca Kench, has the latest.
The painting came into the Conservation Centre for treatment at the end of last year. It's been in need of treatment for a while and we have finally been able to fit it into our schedule. The painting was bought from the artist shortly after it was painted in 1875 by Henry Thompson. He gave it to the Walker in 1880. "The Flower Sellers" is painted on canvas attached to a stretcher and the figures are a little larger than life size. Treating this painting presents me with several problems. Firstly I need to deal with anything which could lead to paint loss. When the painting arrived in the studio, the paint was flaking and needed to be consolidated, or reattached, to the canvas. This mainly affected the area of the flowers where there is damaged and broken impasto (thick brush strokes of paint), and old paint losses down to the canvas. Although this area has been consolidated (stuck back down to the canvas) in the past, there are still some areas which are loose and fragile. In order to fix this, I laid the painting flat on a table, with a support behind the canvas, and any flaking areas of the painting were laid flat and consolidated using a water based fish glue.