Canvas Supports in Paintings by Nicolai Abildgaard: Fabrics and Formats

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An investigation of the technique and materials in paintings by the Danish artist Nicolai Abildgaard (1743 – 1809) included examination of the canvas supports in a large number of his works. Thread count and weave density were studied by automated weave-mapping computer software, designed for working with digital X-radiographs. This was also used for the comparison of weave patterns in order to establish matches between the canvases of various paintings and thereby verify that different canvases originated from the same bolt.
The canvas supports in paintings executed by Abildgaard in Rome 1772-77 appeared to be typical only in some ways for Italian canvas production of the era. In comparison, the supports of his Danish paintings were found to have features in common that to a large degree were determined by practical and economic factors such as Danish eighteenth-century fiscal policy, market conditions and manufacture circumstances. This applied to the quality of the fabric, i.e. the type of fibre, thread count and tightness of weave, as well as the scale and the formats within which the majority of the paintings fall.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTechnology and Practice: Studying 18th-Century Paintings and Art on Paper
EditorsHelen Evans, Kim Muir
Number of pages12
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherArchetype Publications Ltd.
Publication date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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