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Kirsh, Andrea.

Seeing through paintings : physical examination in art historical studies / Andrea Kirsh and Rustin S. Levenson.

New Haven : Yale University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
328 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm.
Reference Library
ND1635 K57 2000 (LC)
Accessible in the Reference Library [Hours]
Note: Non-Yale users must make an appointment to use the Reference Library. Please visit the Reference Library page on our website for more details. For scans from the reference collection please email ycba.reference@yale.edu.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 287-311) and index.
"This clear and accessible handbook introduces the nonspecialist to the physical examination of easel paintings and the historical and critical implications of such study. It takes the reader through the various layers of paintings, from support to varnish, and looks at information that might be attached to a painting's reverse, as well as the physical circumstances of its display. The authors demonstrate how this knowledge contributes to a wide range of historical and critical approaches, including iconography, regional and colonial studies, examination of artistic intent, interactions among artistic schools, and the history of collecting and exhibition." "The book offers the only comprehensive discussion available on materials, techniques, and condition issues in Western easel paintings from medieval times to the present. It includes detailed case studies of twenty-five paintings by artists from Giotto and Leonardo to Vermeer, Degas, and Pollock."--Jacket.
Subject Terms:
Painting -- Expertising.
Painting -- Expertising.
Painting, American.
Painting, American.
Painting, European.
Painting, European.
Levenson, Rustin S., 1947-

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The support (Wood supports ; Technical examination of wood panels ; Fabric supports ; Expedient choice of support ; Stretchers and strainers
  • Technical examination of fabric supports ; Stone and metal : the support as paragoné ; Artists' board and paper laid to canvas or panel)
  • 3. 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)
  • 4. The paint layer
  • 5. The varnish layer
  • 6. Beyond the painting (Labels and collectors' marks ; On framing ; Viewing conditions and lighting)
  • Appendix 1. Pigment identification
  • Appendix 2. Paintings in exemplary condition in public collections.