Thursday, May 13, 2021

Canvas for painting

The use of fabric supports for painting dates to Greek and Roman times. The oldest accounts of the use of fabrics as portable supports are probably those given in Heraclius’ manuscript (12th century). The oldest paintings were painted on silk or delicate linen canvas.

The lighter weight of a fabric support allows for easy transportation as well as the creation of large-format works.

Historically made from tightly woven hemp—the word canvas comes from the Latin cannabis. Before that, wood was the dominant support for easel paintings until the early 16th century.

In the middle of the 14th century and in the 15th century paintings on canvas, so-called T├╝chleinmalerei, commonly appeared in Germany and the Netherlands. The paintings were carried out on a very fine canvas in water soluble paint, without a ground.

Venetian painters were especially keen on utilizing canvas because it was easier for them to use in a humid environment than frescos (which dried poorly in the lagoon) or wood panels.

By the late 18th century commercially prepared painting canvases with single or multi-layered grounds and saturated as well as underbound, more absorbent grounds were widely available.

Various written sources indicate that Danish painters had access to commercially produced and primed painting canvases as well as other materials from an early date in the 19th century.

Until the later 19th century when cotton began to be used as a cheaper alternative, hemp and especially linen canvas fabrics were the most common types of fabric supports used in Western painting.
Canvas for painting

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