The Back of the Painting


8 April, 2021
— 8 July, 2021


Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


Wellington, New Zealand

"Based on the new book The Back of the Painting from Te Papa Press, view a work from our collection – both the artwork and what is on the back of the painting – and unpick the story it tells.

Focussed and detailed images of the front and back of Flora Scales’ Anemones unpacks a bigger story about this work." -

Extract 'Flora Scales, Anemones' by Linda Waters from Linda Waters, Sarah Hillary and Jenny Sherman, The Back of the Painting: Secrets and stories from art conservation, Te Papa Press, Wellington, New Zealand, 2021, pp 180-185, © Te Papa:
"This little oil painting really captures my attention, primarily because it is large in gesture despite its unprepossessing scale. Flora Scales applied the paint in ‘bravura’ fashion —broadly, quickly and with confidence — and with larger brushes than one would expect for such a small piece … Closer examination shows it to have been painted twice … Several features reveal the suspected chronology, not least the back of the work … Essentially, it indicates that the painting was discarded by the artist for a period of time and used as a work surface, after which it was later repainted ... The fact that the work was repainted is seen in the second signature and, after a closer look at other features under the microscope, in an additional wash of yellow ochre over the background that has filled some of the pinholes in the paint surface."

Exhibition artworks