Copper Supports for Paintings

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Paintings on Copper Supports

Introduction

Elemental copper can serve as a primary support for oil paintings. Hammered or rolled metal provides a non-absorbent surface that can increase color saturation. Depending on the plate’s preparation, the reddish-orange metal can also provide a warm tonality to the finished painting, much like other supports including wood, or other paintings with reddish or pink ground layers. Moderate fluctuations in relative humidity and temperature cause negligible dimensional changes to copper supports compared to the typical hygroscopic counterparts, canvas or wood. Copper and oil bound paint films also share similar thermal coefficients of expansion (Wadum and Streeton 2012). These properties minimize stress-induced cracking and crack propagation in the paint and ground layers.