Christian Gullager
Sarah Greenleaf Boardman (Mrs. Offin Boardman) and Benjamin Greenleaf Boardman, about 1787

Technical Notes
The support is a slightly open, plain-weave canvas with an average of eleven weft threads per centimeter and fifteen warp threads per centimeter; the canvas is unlined. Selvage edges are present on the top and bottom of the canvas, and the width from one selvage edge to the other is 106.7 centimeters. Excess fabric at the top edge has been folded onto the back of the stretcher. Cusping is visible along all four edges.

The ground layer is warm white, has a pebbled texture, and does not extend over the tacking edges. It was applied moderately thick but does not hide the texture of the canvas.

In general, the paint was applied thinly, particularly in the shadows where a semitransparent brown paint was used. Somewhat thicker passages occur in the whites and highlights of the flesh tones in the woman's face. There is low impasto in some of the highlights. The child's frock has an opaque, dark pink, underpainting. The hair of both figures was painted first with semitransparent layers of dark brown paint and completed with opaque highlights of lighter brown paint. The dog was similarly painted with black paint to establish the form and lighter colored opaque paints to define the highlights.

Evidence of a crude graphite underdrawing is visible in areas of the face, arms, and hands of both figures (figs. 1 and 2). Examination with infrared vidicon reveals that Gullager made a very loose graphite drawing of the general forms of the woman's costume. There is also a pentimento of the woman's sleeve near her proper right elbow. X-radiographs of the painting reveal that the artist used white lead paint throughout.

Figure 1. Infrared reflectogram showing the underdrawing in the face of Christian Gullager's portrait of Sarah Greenleaf Boardman. Figure 2. Infrared reflectogram showing the underdrawing in the proper left hand of Benjamin Boardman's portrait.
The woman's lace cuffs, trim of the cap, black ribbon, necklace, and some accents in the face were painted wet-on-dry. Most other areas were first painted thinly and broadly, then developed with a wet-on-wet technique. Many of the forms and brushstrokes have hard edges.

The edges of the painting that have been protected by the rabbet of the frame indicate that the exposed areas have faded. The woman's dress was originally reddish brown and is now dull brown. The paint surface was cleaned unevenly, and there is considerable grime in the low points of the brushwork and the weave of the canvas. Minimal retouching is located in the central fold of the woman's kerchief, the dress at bottom center, and the background to the left of the chair.

When the painting entered the museum's collection, it was reportedly unvarnished and dirty. There appear to be remnants of a previous surface coating under the present varnish, which is probably a synthetic varnish (possibly PVA).

Frame Notes
The frame, which appears to be of single-piece construction, is a molded, Dutch-style, black wooden frame with a gilded sight edge. The corners have lap joint and half-miter construction.