This painting by Lucian Freud depicts the face of Garech Browne as an adolescent, of which two versions exist. The artwork, painted in 1956, was most probably created on the family estate Luggala in Ireland. Due to a fire, the painting was never completed and was later given to Caroline Blackwood (second wife of Lucian Freud and cousin of Garech Browne).
During the technical imaging investigation of the artwork, a previous sketch by the artist was revealed by infrared reflectography with the Apollo camera. The face of a man with glasses and a receding hairline came to light.
The position of the face of the man is a ¾ portrait pose, his right shoulder slightly visible, very different from the more detailed and dramatic symmetric frontal pose of Garech Browne’s portrait. Some details were not caught by the IRR device such as the left eye (viewer’s perspective), suggesting, that this first composition was not fully completed, and the artist decided to reuse the support for a different subject. Freud could have scraped this earlier portrait before applying a second ground layer for the current composition, although this was not corroborated. Many details of the previous composition are, however, still visible, such as the shape and shadows produced by the nose as well as the positioning and shape of the face, lips, and ear.
This image was captured with the band-pass filter of the Apollo Camera. To reach this degree of clarity, the IRR was taken from the back of the artwork while illuminating both, the front and the back side of the painting. Furthermore, the pictures were digitally enhanced by increasing contrast and moving the histogram lines of the image to make some of the lines clearer to the eye.
Private Collection, Studio Redivivus
The Apollo camera has fomented new research in art history and English literature
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University