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Nicolas Lancret's 'The Four Times of Day'

Paul Ackroyd, Ashok Roy and Humphrey Wine
Technical Bulletin Volume 25, 2004


Nicolas Lancret's series of four paintings, The Four Times of Day, are represented as genre scenes. 'The Four Times of Day' were engraved, and differences between the paintings and engravings are discussed. The four oil paintings are on copper supports. Very few paintings by Lancret are on machine-made copper supports. The copper supports appear to have silvery metal coatings applied to their surface. This coating has been identified as containing tin and lead.

The ground layers of the paintings were identified as fawn-colored grounds containing lead white and varying proportions of earth pigments in oil. Lancret's palette is discussed in detail and characterised as a Rococo palette. The medium of the paint layers was identified as walnut oil with small amounts of pine resin. Extensive drying cracks in the paintings are attributed to the drying characteristics of walnut oil. Observations about the approach to painting as well as pentimenti are discussed. The decisions directing the restoration treatment of the four paintings are discussed in detail.


artists' materials, copper, engravings, ground, Lancret, painting techniques, Rococo, supports, walnut oil

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To cite this article we suggest using

Ackroyd, P., Roy, A., Wine, H. 'Nicolas Lancret's "The Four Times of Day"'. National Gallery Technical Bulletin Vol 25, pp 48–61.

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