Rejecting hypotheses

A0 BROWN.inddWe discussed in an earlier post that analysing the portraits of Brown, it became clear that the viewing angle of the sitter was identical, and there were curious similarities in their make-up. Using Photoshop to overlay the portraits and observe characteristics of both at the same time, even the lights of eyes were identically placed. But yet these works would have been produced miles apart at different times.

Tracking down the original paintings was the only way that establishing a common link was possible, as whilst computer technology can compare the relative proportions of images, only scrutinising the physical objects yields their true relative size. If they proved to be identical then it made it more likely that the image attributed to Cosway was directly taken from the Dance, perhaps pricked out into canvas from a paper ‘cartoon’, just like frescos were made.

highlights of eyesA trip to Hampton Court Palace saw the Cosway painting in public for the first time. The distance between the whites of the eyes was 53mm. The National Portrait Gallery’s original Dance portrait was on loan to Twickenham and the curator confirmed that the same measurement was different – 58mm! So a hypothesis is quashed, but the Cosway is clearly derived from the earlier Dance. What is also interesting is that a number of acknowledged Dance copies have similar brushwork to the Cosway.

And what progress with the clay?

The final work was moulded in silicone at the foundry. This often partially destroys sections of the surface of a damp clay, so any bronze casts are the true final image of the work in this instance. The clay is restored before hollowing and firing at about 950 degrees C. The creation of this terracotta gives a work that will be displayed in curated conditions because of its comparative fragility; it will travel to Stowe where it will be displayed at the Discovery Centre for the summer.

The first bronze was unveiled on 22 June at the London Building Centre, WC1E 7BT as part of the Lenses on a Landscape Genius exhibition which now runs until 29 July, part of the 2016 London Festival of Architecture.

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