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Seeing through paintings : physical examination in art historical studies

Author: Andrea Kirsh; Rustin S Levenson
Publisher: New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, 2002.
Series: Materials and meaning in the fine arts.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
This guide to the physical examination of paintings takes the reader through the layers from support to varnish. It demonstrates how this knowledge contributes to historical and critical approaches such as iconography, and regional studies.

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Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Andrea Kirsh; Rustin S Levenson
ISBN: 0300094086 9780300094084 0300080468 9780300080469
OCLC Number: 49044870
Notes: Originally published: 2000.
Description: 312 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
Contents: Introduction --
The support. Wood supports ; Technical examination of wood panels ; Fabric supports ; Expedient choice of support ; Stretchers and strainers ; Technical examination of fabric supports --
The ground and preparatory layers. The physical and aesthetic function of grounds and their composition ; Examination of grounds ; Colored grounds ; Textured grounds ; Absorbent grounds ; Painting on raw canvas ; Grounds for gilding and Pastiglia ; Ground incising --
The paint layer. Pigments ; Examination of the paint layer by cross-sections and destructive sampling ; Gilding, tooling, punchwork ; Binding media ; Egg tempera ; Size (distemper) and other temperas ; Drying oils ; Paint handling ; Acrylics and other synthetic media ; Textural paint additives ; Aging effects of the paint layer ; Nondestructive examination of the paint layer --
The varnish layer. The physical and aesthetic function of the varnish layer ; The composition of varnishes ; Aging of the varnish layer ; Examination of the varnish layer with natural light ; Examination of the varnish layer with ultraviolet light ; Has the painting been varnished? ; Varnish on early panels ; Nineteenth-century darkening glazes and tinted varnishes ; Nineteenth- and twentieth-century opposition to varnishing ; Paint on top of the varnish layer --
Beyond the painting. Labels and collectors' marks ; On framing ; Viewing conditions and lighting.
Series Title: Materials and meaning in the fine arts.
Responsibility: Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson.


A comprehensive discussion of materials, techniques and condition issues in Western easel paintings from mediaeval times to the present.  Read more...


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"An essential handbook for the pro, and also a beautifully illustrated primer for the layperson. Kirsh and Levenson teach the most valuable lessons about painting of all: how meanings, material, and Read more...

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