Up to the beginning of the 20th century, many professional artists prepared their own canvases. As more and more amateurs took up the brush, the demand for canvases prepared by traditional methods grew. In 1906, in the middle of Belgium's Flax District and near the River Leie, Victor Claessens founded a company to produce artist-quality canvas, using and refining the tried-and-tested methods that had been passed down from generation to generation.
More than a century later, Claessens NV is still operating in its original location in Waregem, Belgium. Inspired by the proven techniques and methods of the great Flemish and Dutch Masters, Victor Claessens’ descendants have made a conscious choice to retain a small-scale approach to production and to honor the traditional methods for preparing artist’s canvas. Today much of the work is done by machine, but the core of the production process remains unchanged. Craftsmanship and attention to detail continue to be key elements.
Experts and internationally renowned artists alike appreciate the qualities of a Claessens
Style 9 — Medium threads and medium weight, but finished with a very smooth surface. Although the weave and weight is similar to Styles 15 and 20, the finish is much smoother, ideal for painting detailed works in larger formats than would be suitable for a portrait grade linen.
Style 12 — Claessens’ heavier portrait grade linen, at 11.3 oz per square yard (primed), has a fine texture and smooth surface. Use it for larger works that require more support.
Style 13 — Claessens’ lighter portrait grade linen, at 9.6 oz per square yard (primed), has a fine texture and smooth surface. Use it for smaller portraits and other richly detailed works.
Style 20 — A medium weight and rough texture linen, at 12.4 oz per square yard (primed), it is ideal for landscape painting and impasto.
Style 29 — Claessens’ rough texture heavyweight linen, at 16 oz per square yard (primed), is perfect for large-scale works that support a heavy paint layer, such as impasto.
Style 820 — This single weave linen is professional grade, woven to exacting standards, and double oil-primed by hand. The smooth surface texture is ideal for fine detail work, as well as realistic portraits and landscapes. Weight per square yard is 10.5 oz (primed). 92 TPI.
Style 15DP — A medium weight linen with a medium texture, Style 15DP is double primed, and weighs approximately 14.7 oz per square yard with the primer applied.
Thread Count — The tightness of the weave, in cotton and linen canvas, is measured by the thread count, which aggregates the number of threads per inch in the warp and the weft. Thread count is measured in threads per square inch, abbreviated TPI. A higher thread count produces a finer cloth, prized for detail as in portraiture, but not necessarily as strong.
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® Claessens is a registered trademark of Claessens NV.
Claessens oil primed linen canvas is sized with synthetic glue to protect the fabric from acidic oils, and to lend rigidity to the canvas for ease of stretching. Next, it is primed with Zinc White pigment bound with linseed oil and placed into a drying room for three days to air-dry naturally. Then the canvas is sanded and a coating layer of Titanium White is applied. Finally, the canvas is placed into a drying room for an additional 10 days until it is completely dry.
Claessens linen canvas is made exclusively from natural materials that are grown, sorted, and processed with the greatest care. Claessens linen canvases are truly natural products, with small differences in their color, composition, and feel, which can occasionally lead to minute differences in the end result.
This is to be expected from a canvas made using traditional methods. Indeed, from an artistic and creative point of view, such small differences are considered to be more of a ”pro“ than a ”con.“