Counting Vermeer


3.7 Secondary cusping

In order to make the canvas suitable to be painted on, it was stretched on a frame, as can be seen in a depiction of a painter’s studio by Jan Miense Molenaer and other masters. Sometimes the same stretching was used for the application of the glue and the ground. Other times the prepared canvas was restretched for painting. If the glue and the ground were not completely hardened during the restretching, new distortions in the fabric could occur. These distortions, which are less distinct than primary cusping and extend only a few centimeters into the canvas, are called secondary cusping. An example of secondary cusping can be found along the right hand edge of The Little Street (L11), where primary cusping is completely absent [1, 2].


Detail of the X-radiograph of Vermeer’s The Little Street with primary cusping on the left-hand edge of the painting.


Detail of the X-radiograph of Vermeer’s The Little Street with slight deformations in the canvas along the right-hand edge and no primary cusping.

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