National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices Henry Fuseli (artist)
Swiss, 1741 - 1825
Oedipus Cursing His Son, Polynices, 1786
oil on canvas
overall: 149.8 x 165.4 cm (59 x 65 1/8 in.) framed: 177.2 x 191.8 x 12.3 cm (69 3/4 x 75 1/2 x 4 13/16 in.)
Paul Mellon Collection
1983.1.41
On View
From the Tour: British and American History Paintings of the 1700s
Object 2 of 8

Conservation Notes

The medium-weight canvas is loosely plain woven; it has been lined. The thinly and smoothly applied white ground almost masks the weave of the canvas. The painting is executed in a variety of techniques. The figures are modeled in opaque paint ranging from thin to moderately thick (it is thickest in the figure of Polynices), with thin brown glazes in the surface layer and slight impasto in the highlights; there are layers of light gray underpainting beneath the flesh tones, and in the case of Polynices and Antigone the contours of the hands are defined by thin red glazes. The background is partly executed in thin brown glazes; where the paint is thicker, notably in the lower right quadrant, there is pronounced traction crackle which suggests the presence of bitumen. The canvas has been damaged by two major tears on the left and by smaller tears in the lower half of the picture, all of which have been restored. The brown glazes, in the figures as well as in the background, have been severely abraded. The fairly thin natural resin varnish has not discolored.

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