JAIC 1999, Volume 38, Number 1, Article 2 (pp. 03 to 20)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1999, Volume 38, Number 1, Article 2 (pp. 03 to 20)

FROM THE GROUND UP: THE GROUND IN 19TH-CENTURY AMERICAN PICTURES

JOYCE ZUCKER


ABSTRACT—A painting is built from the ground up. The materials and color of the ground have a significant impact on the stability, tonality, and quality of the finished work of art. For 19th-century American artists of the Hudson River School, who became students of light and translucent media, the color and properties of the ground were critically important. To achieve certain visual effects, highly absorbent, highly water-soluble grounds were commonly used. During this time artists' colormen were experimenting with various recipes to produce economical grounded canvas that could be stored and rolled. Experimentation precipitated problems with faulty ground layers. The paintings of Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900) are used to document changes in the use of ground color and to describe ground staining. With ground staining and its associate bloom prevalent in American paintings of the 19th century, the importance of recognizing these conditions is noted. Preliminary analysis and possible mechanisms for ground staining are discussed as well as problems with water-soluble grounds and shrinkers.
[Spanish Abstract] [French Abstract]

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. SOME PROBLEMS ENCOUNTERED IN 19TH-CENTURY GROUNDS
3. WATER-SOLUBLE GROUNDS
4. SUMMARY
a: References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 1999 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works