The technological investigation of a painting also includes an examination of the support. For “After the Luncheon”, Renoir chose a thin fabric made from flax or hemp. It had been furnished with a white priming ‒ a preparatory layer on which the artist then executes the painting. The canvas had been stretched on a framework, a so-called stretcher with cross-members.
In nineteenth-century France, ready-to-use primed and stretched canvases were available in certain sizes, so-called standard formats. For the different pictorial genres ‒ portrait, landscape, seascape ‒ specific pre-established dimensions were recommended. “After the Luncheon” measures 100.5 by 81.3 cm, and thus corresponds roughly to the standard format “40 Figure”, as we know from comparison with the sales list of a colourman dating from the year 1888. At some time in its past, the canvas was “keyed out” ‒ that is, stretched tighter by adjusting the wedges at the corner joints. That explains why the support is a few millimetres larger than the dimensions specified on the list.
On the cross-member of the stretcher and on the back of the canvas are two identical – and difficult-to-decipher – oval stamps. They represent the dealer’s marks of the colourman “REY & CIE/PARIS” once located in the rue de Larochefoucauld 51 in Paris. This company’s stamp has been discovered on some of Renoir’s paintings, but the artist is known to have obtained canvases and paints from other dealers as well.
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