National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Lady Elizabeth Delmé and Her Children Sir Joshua Reynolds (artist)
British, 1723 - 1792
Lady Elizabeth Delmé and Her Children, 1777-1779
oil on canvas
overall: 238.4 x 147.2 cm (93 7/8 x 57 15/16 in.) framed: 266.4 x 175.3 cm (104 7/8 x 69 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.95
On View
From the Tour: British and American Grand Manner Portraits of the 1700s
Object 9 of 12

Conservation Notes

The light- to medium-weight canvas is twill woven; it has been double lined. The ground is not discernible through the discolored varnish and thick paint layers, but is probably white. The painting is richly executed in a complex of different layers and techniques. The lowest paint layer is gray; the middle layers are thickly applied, white in the lights, the drapery, and background, and dark in the tree trunks, foliage, and shadows; the final layers defining detail contain nonoil additives and include rich brown, red, and blue glazes in the foliage, sky, and landscape, and in parts of the figures. The painting seems to have been retouched and revarnished by Reynolds in 1789.[1] There are many shallow, overpainted losses throughout the painting. Broad craquelure marks most of the dark, rich browns, indicating the presence of bitumen. The varnish, which appears to be a natural resin, is difficult to distinguish from the final glazes and has discolored yellow to a significant degree.


[1] A newspaper report dated 19 September 1789 stated that this and some other portraits "which for many years have been lodged in his infirmary" now "by the help of fresh varnish and a few vivifying touches from his pencil, again claim our notice" (Graves and Cronin 1899-1901, 4: 1296).

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