Stretchers, tensioning, and attachments

Authored by: Barbara A. Buckley

Conservation of Easel Paintings

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367023799
eBook ISBN: 9780429399916
Adobe ISBN:


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The stretcher is integral to the history of oil painting on canvas. The stretcher, or strainer, functions as the framework used for stretching a canvas support and tensioning it to keep it in plane for the optimal viewing and display of a painting. A stretcher can also facilitate the transportation of a canvas painting. As a result of its integral relation with a painting, it will often hold evidence of the history of the painting, such as inscriptions or labels that may indicate its provenance or exhibition history. The stretcher conveys a history of the technology and manufacture of artists’ materials – from its use as a straining frame for preparing the painting canvas with a ground or priming layer to more recent designs influenced by conservation.

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