UNDERSTANDING THE TECHNIQUES OF AMERICAN TONALIST AND IMPRESSIONIST PAINTERS
LANCE MAYER, & GAY MYERS
ABSTRACT—The authors have studied many of the paintings and primary oral and written sources connected with the American impressionist and tonalist painters who worked in New England. This paper presents a summary of the findings to date about paint, paint additives, and the question of varnishing, with special emphasis on technical problems that are of concern to conservators. The research indicates that the techniques used by the two groups were more complex than has been generally thought and that the artists varied widely in their approach to important technical issues, in part because of the different studio practices they learned during their early training. Barbizon-influenced Henry Ward Ranger painted into and on top of mastic resin and advocated varnishing previously unvarnished paintings by other artists, including paintings by Monet. While some sources document John Twachtman's preference for matte surfaces on paintings of certain periods, a number of the impressionist painters may have added media to their paint to make it glossier, perhaps to avoid varnishing later. Of the impressionist painters studied, only Childe Hassam made it clear that he wanted some of his paintings varnished.
2. PAINT AND ADDED MEDIA
3. VIEWS ON THE AGING OF PAINTINGS
4. VARNISH AND GLOSS
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